NAPA, California – New season, new hairdo for Pat Perez, who hacked off several inches a week ago. That doesn’t deserve a breaking news bulletin by any stretch of the imagination, but after going a year without doing so, his look this week is noticeably different.
He went from Steven Seagal waking up from a coma in the movie “Hard to Kill” to, well, Pat Perez.
“I had to, I couldn’t do it anymore. It was blowing in my eyes last week,” said the also clean-shaven Perez. “I feel like I lost 40 pounds. I don’t look like it, but I feel like I did.”
That’s not the only change for Perez. He moved the position of the golf ball in his stance on his putting stroke and the putts started rolling in. Perez carded a 3-under 69 on Friday at Silverado Resort and Spa’s North Course to improve to 10-under 134 after 36 holes at the Safeway Open.
“My ball was just too far up, which makes me hit across it and up, which makes it spin right. Left to rights, I’ve been really bad on them,” said Perez of his decision to move the ball about two balls back in his stance. “Started making some putts and I thought, you know, might as well go with it. I’m pretty comfortable standing over the putter right now.”
Perez already has holed over 212 feet of putts through 36 holes and ranks sixth in the field in Strokes Gained: Putting (+3.681).
Perez also worked with swing instructor Drew Steckel on making a swing change that is paying quick dividends.
“I’ve finally tried to get (my wrist) bowed at the top more, then drop it in the slot. It’s really hard because I’ve done it the other way for so long and I’ve just been reluctant to do it. But I started hitting it just so bad and so sideways, I just couldn’t do it anymore, I had to make a switch,” he said. “I’m so afraid of hitting it left with that motion, but when I do it right, it just feels incredible. I’ve seen some shots this week I haven’t seen in so long, I’m pretty excited about it going forward throughout this fall season. Keep working on it and see what happens.”
Perez, 44, heard his fair share of jokes about his long hair, but his wife liked it so he kept his barber at bay. He appreciated being told that the shorter ‘do made him look younger.
“I heard it all. Great moss, lettuce, hockey hair, you name it,” he said, noting that he might grow it long again. “It was just driving me nuts. It was so hot this summer and it just was like a drape.”
Almost as long as his hair is the length of the time since Perez has been part of the trophy hunt. His last of three Tour victories was the 2017 CIMB Classic, and he hasn’t recorded a top-10 finish since the 2019 Mayakoba Classic nearly a year ago. He withdrew from his two most recent starts with a foot injury at the Wyndham Championship and an ankle injury at the Northern Trust. Perez trails leader Sam Burns by five strokes.
“I’ve played horrible for so many weeks, I was fighting trying to get going, trying to hit it like this, but now, I don’t know, it always feels great being in contention,” he said. “That’s why we’re out here, to have a chance to win, at least have a good week and that’s all you ask for.”
Pat Perez gets it to -9.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 11, 2020