MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- Rod Perry had a lofty goal this week at the PGA Professional National Championship: defend the title he won a year ago in Sunriver.
Perry, the 40-year-old PGA head professional at Crane Lakes Golf and Country Club in Port Orange, Fla., fell short, but not by much. The reigning PGA Professional Player of the Year shot a 1-under 71 in Wednesday's final round. With a 72-hole total of 1-over 289, he ended in a tie for fifth place and will make his third consecutive PGA Championship appearance in August.
"I had a lot of fun," he said. "The golf course set up really well for me with the Bermuda grass, knowing it was going to be hot -- this is my style of golf. You've got to hit it in the middle of the fairway to have any chance. If you're out of position you're probably going to pay a price. I was really looking forward to this week. I played OK. I didn't play great, but I played OK."
And, in this case, "OK" for Perry was more than enough for a trip to Valhalla.
"Going back to another PGA Championship means I can get another week off of work," joked Perry. "I'm just kidding. It brings great excitement. Any time you get to play with the best in the world it's an honor. I'm really looking forward to it.
"I know what to expect having played in the last two," he added. "I feel like I have experience on my side now. I'm not a rookie at this anymore and hopefully I can turn that into a solid performance."