Louisville Magazine

AUG 2014

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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Page 24 of 148

6 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE PGA tuned his accuracy on longer approaches to greens. At the Memorial, Killen stood by me on the range, fussed with a launch monitor and watched Holmes swing as he described the golfer's road back. "Most people just see him as a guy who bombs it and chops it out of the rough," Killen said. "But he's got a great fnesse game. His wedge play, putting and greenside game are as good as anybody's." Follow him at Valhalla this month and you'll see a man who looks quietly comfortable in his Srixon ball cap, good ol' boy sideburns and monochromatic golf polos. Te loudness comes when his noticeably thick forearms and extra-fast hip rotation whip the driver through the swing, causing an unmistakably distinct sound as it concusses the ball. Yet there also is a quiet precision to the more-controlled swings he uses to drop iron shots softly on the green. How can a player, you might think, be at once so potent and so measured? Renewed proof that Holmes' talent can at times outper- form all others came at this year's Wells Fargo Champion- ship, held in early May in Charlotte, North Carolina. He won that tournament, besting veteran Jim Furyk by one stroke for his third PGA Tour victory. Tat moment secured him $1.24 million and automatic invitations to next year's Masters as well as the PGA at Valhalla. "I love that golf course," Holmes said of his home-state venue. "I've played it a bunch and just like it. It was one of my goals this year to make sure I got back and qualifed for it." Holmes, who now lives in Orlando, was still growing his powers as a teenager when the PGA championship came to Valhalla twice before, in 1996 and 2000 (won, respectively, by Mark Brooks and Tiger Woods). But the Jack Nicklaus- designed course fts Holmes well, especially the 300 yards added since 2000 to make it play long even by pro stan- dards. In addition to favoring his mammoth drives, Valhalla requires precision mid- and long-irons, also strengths of his. Keith Reese, the general manager at Valhalla, who previ- ously was the golf pro there for 17 years, said, "I think it's a ball-strikers' course. (In golf parlance, a ball-striker excels at longer, full-swing shots.) Someone who's a good iron player should play this course well." And Holmes? "Extreme length does work as an advantage," Reese said. "I think he has a great chance." Holmes can also summon up warm memories of the one big event he's already competed in at Valhalla — the 2008 Ryder Cup, matching the U.S. against Europe's best in team play. He participated in two partners matches, one of which ended in a tie and the other a win for the U.S. Ten, during the fnal day of singles matches, he defeated Søren Hansen to get the U.S. within one point of clinching the cup, which it secured soon thereafter when Furyk closed out his opponent. It was the only American victory over the Europeans in the biennial contest so far this century. "Tat was the best part of my career so far," Holmes told me. "It was awesome. It was a dream come true — mostly because of being in the home state and knowing that golf course and being able to be in a key part and fnish strong." If he fnishes strong and at the top of the leaderboard at this month's PGA, Holmes will complete a large circle back to the magic he felt six years ago. And his Kentucky fans will be there to appreciate the moment. Curtain Call for Kenny E lizabethtown-born Kenny Perry, who currently plays on both the PGA and Champions (senior) tours, has an- nounced that this month's PGA Championship at Valhalla, where he'll play by special invitation, may be the last non-senior tour event he will compete in. Since 1984, Perry has compiled 104 top-10 PGA Tour fnishes, including six in majors, and accrued 14 tour wins. On the Champions circuit, as of late June, he's won six tournaments, among them three senior majors, and was voted by his peers 2013 Player of the Year. In 1996, Perry lost the PGA Championship by one stroke in a playof with Mark Brooks after leading by one stroke on the fnal hole in regulation. At the Masters in 2009, the then 48-year-old held a two-stroke lead with two holes to go, only to falter and lose in a three-way playof. Perry did help his 2008 Ryder Cup team beat the Europeans for the frst time in nine years by winning singles and foursome matches for the U.S. And no golf fan will ever forget his blind second shot from 220 yards out in the sandy rough on the 14th hole at Pinehurst No. 2 during the 2014 U.S. Open two months ago.

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