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Kenny Perry centre of attention at Colonial

Although Jim Furyk is the highest-ranked player in the field, fellow American Kenny Perry is likely to be more closely monitored at this week's Colonial tournament in Fort Worth, Texas.

Twice champion Perry is back to defend the title he won by seven strokes last year after being sidelined for two months this season because of knee surgery.

The 45-year-old from Kentucky tied for 34th on his return to action at last week's Byron Nelson Championship in Irving, Texas but the Colonial was always uppermost in his mind.

"When I was laying in bed watching everybody at Bay Hill, my first thought was I've got to figure out a way to get to Colonial," said Perry, who was unable to defend his Bay Hill title in March.

"That was always a big goal in my mind, just to be able to play the Colonial. I don't know how competitive I'll be but I just wanted to go back, see everybody and just enjoy the week."

Perry, who damaged his right knee at the season-opening Mercedes Championships in Hawaii, had arthroscopic surgery in March to repair torn cartilage.

He has been advised by his doctor to let pain be his guide during the recovery process and refuses to put himself under any pressure to perform.

"I'm just going to take it slow, get out there and hopefully, by the middle of the summer, I'll be ready to go again," he said.

A trade-off for the nine-times PGA Tour winner while he was sidelined from tournament golf was the amount of time he could spend with his family.

"It was great to be a dad once again, just spend time with my wife and my family, and to kind of get up in the morning and say: 'What are we going to do today?'," Perry said.

"I actually enjoyed it a lot, and it was hard for me to come back to tell you the truth.

"When you've been so focused for so long on one goal and one purpose in life, and then all of a sudden you open yourself up to a lot of other things you enjoy, it kind of made me think twice."

However, Perry is certain to feel at home on his return to Colonial Country Club which this week celebrates the 60th anniversary of a tournament made famous by golfing great Ben Hogan.

American Hogan won the title five times between 1946 and 1959 and his name is among other luminaries such as Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus engraved on a marble wall close to the first tee.

Perry is also on the Wall of Champions, having capturing his second title in three years at Hogan's Alley with a record-equalling total of 19-under-par 261 last May.

With temperatures hovering around 100 degrees Fahrenheit on the final day, Perry closed with a one-under-par 69 to finish well clear of compatriot Billy Mayfair, who also carded a 69.

World number five Furyk, who lies second on the 2006 PGA Tour money list with earnings of $2,962,649, is one of just two members of the top 10 playing Colonial Country Club this week.

Also competing is ninth-ranked David Toms, who boasts an impressive track record at the Colonial with four top-10 finishes in seven starts.

Among the other big names in the invitational field are 2004 European Ryder Cup captain Bernhard Langer, 2003 U.S. Masters champion Mike Weir and former world number one David Duval.

 




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