Perez takes advantage as Stricker struggles


POSTED: Monday, January 26, 2009

LA QUINTA, Calif. » Remaining calm despite the swirling wind and a tense duel for the lead, Pat Perez finally got his first PGA Tour victory - with a lot of help from Steve Stricker.

Perez won the Bob Hope Classic yesterday, taking advantage of Stricker's collapse and holding off John Merrick by three strokes. The winner shot a 3-under 69 for a 33-under 327 total in the five-day event.

“;I just tried to stay pretty even-keeled,”; Perez said. “;I figured if I could just play solid and hit some good shots and kind of stay calm and think about what I'm doing out there, I was going to be fine.”;

In the past, “;calm”; wasn't necessarily a word used about Perez and his play. He seemed quick to grow angry and frustrated when he wasn't playing well.

“;I just got tired of getting upset all the time,”; the 32-year-old Perez said. “;It's a lot of energy. I learned how the best guys do it.”;

Mentioning Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh and Ernie Els, among others, Perez said, “;All these guys are pretty even-keeled. They don't let things bother them. They put stuff behind them. Before, if I made a double on five, the tournament was over. I look at that as a speed bump now.”;

After hitting into the water and dropping to 29 under on the fifth hole, Perez steadied and still made the turn at 35.

Merrick, who began the day eight shots back, shot a 67.

Stricker, 33 under at the start of play after rounds of 61 and 62, had a 77 to tie for third with Mike Weir (67) at 28 under. Stricker had a triple bogey on No. 7 and a quadruple bogey on No. 10, hitting into the water on both holes.

Perez, playing in the final group, locked up the victory by knocking his approach shot over the water from 200 yards on No. 18 to 3 feet to set up an eagle. Merrick, winless on the tour, already had finished his round with a par on 18.

Perez didn't consider playing it safe on the final hole.

“;I don't lay up,”; Perez said. “;I hit a 6-iron. I mean, how hard is it? I'm not going to lay up with a wedge over here and hit a wedge over there.”;

Castle alum Dean Wilson finished 13 strokes back.


Quiros conquers Qatar

DOHA, Qatar » Spain's Alvaro Quiros won the Qatar Masters for his third European tour victory, making five birdies on the back nine for a 3-under 69 and a three-stroke victory over Louis Oosthuizen and Henrik Stenson.

The 26-year-old Quiros finished at 19-under 269 on the Doha Golf Club course. He will move into the top 30 in the world, virtually wrapping up his first start in the Masters at Augusta National.


Matthew cruises in exhibition

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil » Catriona Matthew, the 39-year-old Scot expecting her second child in May, won the HSBC LPGA Brazil Cup exhibition event, shooting her second straight 3-under 69 for a five-stroke victory over Kristy McPherson.