Kenny Perry, Calipari enjoy budding friendship

By: Steve Moss
By: Steve Moss

Kenny Perry attended Western Kentucky, gives generously to Lipscomb, but has an affinity for UK basketball.

Kenny Perry attended Western Kentucky, gives generously to Lipscomb, but has an affinity for UK basketball.

"Those last few years, I was really frustrated," Perry said of UK's recent run.

New coach John Calipari has reached out to a number of former Wildcats and prominent Kentuckians.  Add Perry to the list.

"Coach has called me quite a few times.  I was impressed when he called me after my loss at the Masters," Perry told 27 SportsFirst, during a recent pro-am round at Triple Crown Country Club, near Cincinnati.  "He was one of the first texts I got."

Calipari has said Perry's meltdown during his playoff loss at the Masters serves as inspiration and will be included in the UK coach's book, "Bounce Back: Overcoming Setbacks to Succeed in Business and in Life."  Perry lost in a playoff to Angel Cabrera, after heading into the final two holes with a two-shot lead.

"His author called me and talked about he (Calipari) had a similar situation with the loss in the Final Four game.  My loss at the Masters, they loved how I handled that situation.  It's a teaching moment, so it's not about me always.  It's about kids out there watching," Perry said.

Perry says he's put the Masters loss behind him.  Two weeks ago, Perry won for the 14th time on the PGA Tour, when he took home The Travelers title in Hartford. 

"I don't really think about it.  It was a blessing.  In 1996, I didn't handle the PGA Championship when I lost to Mark Brooks at Valhalla very well.  It took me a couple of years to get over that deal."

Perry says the coach now keeps in touch.  "I started texting him back and he gave me his number.  He came through Franklin and he texted me, 'Coming through the town of a champion.'  I thought that was pretty cool."

Calipari has invited Perry and his family to attend a UK game this upcoming season.  "He said bring my family.  We're going to sit right behind them on the bench," Perry said.  "That'll be a thrill to be up close and personal."

Perry says UK hired one of the country's best recruiters.  "I've been really impressed with his ability to get recruits and he's got us all looking forward to UK basketball."


Perry will in play The Open

Perry says he was roasted by the media last year after deciding to bypass the British Open.  At the time, Perry said, he was trying to qualify for the U.S. Ryder Cup team. 

He will play in this year's British Open, but says he feels pressured to do so.  Perry's mother is gravely ill -- she is suffering from multiple myeloma and will soon enter hospice.  Perry says he doesn't want to travel too far from her.

"I don't know if it's going to make me feel good.  The media's been hard on me for skipping the majors," he said.

Perry says his mother's illness has been tough on the family. 

"She's just withering away.  She's lost 30 pounds and she doesn't eat anymore," Perry said.  "The doctors say that's all they can do for her.  I know mom's going to be in a better place.  It's sad and I hate to see her suffer."

"Phil's skipping because Amy's going through breast cancer.  I've got a sister that's fighting breast cancer.  It's a tough time in our lives, in our family.  I just don't want to get too far from her."

The Open will be played July 16-19 at Turnberry.

Those are the highlights... Stay tuned.


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