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Pat Perez enjoying home town return

American Pat Perez has an extra bounce in his step for this week’s Buick Invitational where he returns to his hometown for the first time as a PGA Tour winner.

The 32-year-old San Diego native is now based in Arizona but knows virtually every inch of Torrey Pines after playing regularly at the coastal venue since the age of 13.

“Coming back here is home, really,” Perez told reporters during preparation for Thursday’s first round. “I live in Scottsdale but I’ve got a lot of ties here.

“I used to work here at this course and Torrey is where I grew up. It’s just great coming back.”

Perez, who by his own admission had previously allowed his emotions to take control out on the course, finally won his first PGA Tour title at the Bob Hope Classic two weeks ago.

In his 198th career start since joining the U.S. circuit in 2002, he took advantage of a final-round collapse by overnight leader Steve Stricker to triumph by three shots.

“It was relief, it was excitement,” Perez recalled of his victory at La Quinta, California. “When you finally win, you know you’ve accomplished something.

“You put it together for the entire tournament and you came out on top. It was definitely a different feeling.

“There was relief as far as knowing that you can do it, and for me that was the only thing I needed to know. Now I have that confidence.”

Perez is eager to build on his breakthrough win, and would dearly love to do so this week at the venue where he won the 1993 junior world title.

“I’m really excited about the way I’m hitting it, and I know my game is ready to keep moving up,” he said. “I’ve had some pretty good years and some good tournaments but never really consistently. My goal is to be a consistent player.

“My swing is better, my confidence is higher and my putting has come around. That would be the only reason that week-in and week-out I might perform consistently better now.”

Perez, who as a teenager worked at the city-owned Torrey Pines Golf Course during his school holidays, has been swamped by congratulatory messages since winning the Bob Hope title.

“The last couple of weeks have been incredible,” he said. “I’ve had a million phone calls, text messages and e-mails. And it hasn’t gotten old yet, that’s for sure.”


February 5, 2009

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