Perry ends career as a slow learner; amateurs in US Open

DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) One more putt would have given Kenny Perry two extra days on the PGA Tour, though it wouldn't have changed a thing.

He wanted the Memorial to be his final PGA Tour event, and whether that ended on Friday or Sunday was irrelevant.

The Memorial was the first of his 14 career victories in 1991, and it proved that he belonged among the best players. Even so, he never imagined playing nearly 30 years without ever losing his card until he was on the Champions Tour.

He had two close calls in the majors. He won a Ryder Cup in his home state of Kentucky. And he ended his PGA Tour career at age 54 with just over $32 million in earnings.

The money is worth mentioning because Perry didn't have the $5,000 to pay for Q-school.

He was 26, married with two children, and already had failed Q-school twice. That's when Ronnie Ferguson, an elder at his church, agreed to pay his entry fee on one condition. If he failed, there was no need for Perry to repay him. If he made it, he asked Perry to give back 5 percent of his earnings. Perry set up a scholarship fund at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, where Ferguson once played college golf.

''I always told my dad if I could win just one time, I've made it,'' Perry said. ''To be able to survive 30 years out here competitively and not lose my card, I'm very proud of that. I'm a slow learner. I had some great moments really late in my career.''

He won 11 times in his 40s, and in the year before he turned 50, he finished at No. 5 on the money list.

Of all the highlights, one that stood out came in his rookie season in 1987. In the Panasonic Las Vegas Invitational, his seventh event of the season, he hit a 4-iron to a foot on the final hole for a tap-in eagle.

''I remember Lee Trevino was announcing at the time, and that gave me enough money to solidify my card my rookie year,'' Perry said. ''It was a lot of money for me. That one shot I'll never forget. I still feel it to this day. Magical shot, you know?''

Las Vegas had more prize money than all four majors and was only topped by a new tournament on the schedule now called the Tour Championship. That eagle gave Perry a tie for fourth and he earned $55,000, which was just over half his money for the year. He wound up with $107,239 to finish 93rd on the money list.

Perry, meanwhile, never put his name on the scholarship fund. It's still known as the Simpson County (Ky.) Scholarship Fund. And it's still growing. Perry already has won over $6 million since joining the Champions Tour.

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MILLER TIME: Johnny Miller will be at the U.S. Open for a 21st consecutive year. You just won't hear him, and probably won't see him.

Miller said he would be at Chambers Bay on Saturday and Sunday as part of a corporate function with Lexus.

''It's going to be weird being there and not working, I can tell you that,'' Miller said Monday from Omaha, Nebraska, where he was doing a Lexus outing to raise money for a Catholic high school. ''It is what it is. I can say for me to cover a U.S. Open at Chambers Bay would have been a little different, anyway.''

During the 20 years that NBC Sports televised the U.S. Open, Miller had played majors at most of the venues (he didn't play Bethpage Black of Congressional, to name a few exceptions). Chambers Bay only opened eight years ago.

''Maybe it will be a good championship,'' Miller said.

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OPEN TIDBITS: Maybe this U.S. Open could be called amateur hour.

After the final stage of qualifying on Monday, 17 amateurs are part of the field at Chambers Bay. Three were previously exempt through amateur criteria, and 14 made it through qualifying. The USGA said it was the highest number of amateurs since 1981.

Meanwhile, nine players made it to the U.S. Open by qualifying for the second straight year - four from the qualifier in England, four from the United States and Liang Wenchong in the Asia qualifier.

There's still a chance for players in the FedEx St. Jude Classic to move (or stay) in the top 60 in the world and get to Chambers Bay. Andy Sullivan of England is No. 56 and Kevin Kisner is at No. 57. Neither are playing this week. Kisner tweaked his back on his first shot he took on the range Thursday at the Memorial, though he said it felt better by Sunday. He withdrew from the qualifier and said if he falls out of the top 60, he probably could use a week off, anyway.

Steven Bowditch (No. 64) and Harris English (No. 68) also are playing the St. Jude Classic.

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JACK & JOHNNY: Johnny Miller has been selected to be honored next year at the Memorial. Tournament host Jack Nicklaus also said that two-time Masters champion Horton Smith and two-time PGA champion Leo Diegel would be honored posthumously.

Miller, known in this generation for his blunt talk in the NBC Sports tower, is a two-time major champion and a fierce rival to Nicklaus in the 1970s. They spend more time fishing these days than playing golf.

''Johnny was very thrilled,'' Nicklaus said. ''He says, `You've got to be kidding.' I said, `If you hadn't caught that fish when we were together, we probably wouldn't have done it.' In case you don't understand that, I take Johnny fishing occasionally.''

Miller, 68, attributed it to age.

''They've run out of the good players,'' he said with a laugh. ''Now they're down to Johnny Miller.''

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RODGERS & OUT: Patrick Rodgers had more margin for error than he realized at the time, but his finish was no less impressive. Leaking oil on the back nine at the Memorial, and needing only nine FedEx Cup points for special temporary membership on the PGA Tour, he birdied the last two holes to make it easily.

Rodgers, from the same high school class that produced Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas (he and Thomas are roommates in Florida), was already set for his PGA Tour card next year. He still is No. 6 on the Web.com Tour money list, and the top 25 are assured cards. But anything can happen in Q-school, as Kevin Tway found out a few years ago when he plunged down the priority list.

Getting his temporary membership at Memorial was big.

Not only does Rodgers get unlimited exemptions - he is in the St. Jude Classic this week and the Travelers the week after the U.S. Open - he can secure a card by finishing the equivalent of 125th or higher in either the FedEx Cup or the money list. That would give him priority over the Web.com Tour graduates, and he could bank on full status for the entire season.

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DIVOTS: Morgan Pressel and Suzann Pettersen round out the 20-player field for the CVS Charity Classic on June 29-30. The event hosted by Brad Faxon and Billy Andrade has raised more than $18 million for New England charities. ... Ridgewood Country Club, part of the rotation that hosts The Barclays during the FedEx Cup playoffs, will host the U.S. Girls Junior in 2016. ... Sunday was a big week for Idaho. Boise natives Tyler Aldridge won on the Web.com Tour and Madeleine Sheils on the Symetra Tour.

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STAT OF THE WEEK: Only twice in the past 10 years has a player won a PGA Tour event without making a birdie in the final round. Both happened at the St. Jude Classic (Justin Leonard in 2005, Ben Crane in 2014).

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FINAL WORD: ''I look at it this way. It's about getting reps. I got a lot of reps this weekend.'' - Tiger Woods, on his 85-74 weekend at the Memorial to finish in last place for the first time in his career.

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