OMAHA, Neb. — Kenny Perry completed his comeback from 10 shots down after the second round to win the U.S. Senior Open on Sunday.
Perry shot a final-round 63 at the Omaha Country Club and won his second straight senior major by five strokes over Fred Funk. He set two tournament records over the last 36 holes — for the 64-63 finish and for the size of deficit he overcame.
The 52-year-old Kentuckian started Sunday two shots behind leader Michael Allen, but was in front to stay after he birdied the second and third holes and Allen bogeyed the third.
Perry’s 63 matched Allen’s Friday score for best round of the tournament and was the best ever in a U.S. Senior Open final round. He finished with a 13-under 267, tying the tournament record Hale Irwin set in 2000 at Saucon Valley in Pennsylvania.
Rocco Mediate used three straight birdies on the back nine to get within two shots of Perry. But Perry birdied Nos. 14 and 15, Mediate bogeyed 16, and Perry’s lead was five shots.
Perry made par over the last three holes to finish the biggest win of his career. He got a pat on the back from Allen as he walked off the 17th green. A wide smile crossed his face as he tapped in for par on 18. He dropped his putter, raised both arms and waved his visor to the gallery.
The victory established Perry as the hottest thing going in senior golf. He’s the ninth player to win consecutive senior majors.
On the regular tour, Perry was best known for collapses in the 2009 Masters and 1996 PGA Championship. Those memories haunted him again in May when he squandered a three-shot lead with six holes to play in the Senior PGA Championship and lost by two to Kohki Idoki.
Just as he did two weeks ago in the Senior Players Championship at Fox Chapel, Pa., where he won by two shots over Fred Couples and Duffy Waldorf, Perry came from behind to win in the hills and heat at the par-70 Omaha Country Club.
Perry found himself 10 shots down after he blew up to 73 on Friday. He was just two back after his 64 on Saturday.
He had six birdies and one bogey on his way to a 5-under 30 on the front nine Sunday. He started a run of four straight birdies when he blasted out of the sand to within 5 feet on No. 6.
By the time he made the turn, he was three shots ahead of the fading Allen.
Things momentarily got interesting when Mediate made a 10-foot putt on No. 15 for his third straight birdie to get within two shots of Perry. Over on the par-5 14th, Perry was buried in the left rough. He chipped into the fairway and was left with 130 yards to the pin.
He knocked his wedge within a foot, yelling “Be right” as his ball plopped onto the green and rolled toward the cup. After the tap-in, another birdie on No. 15 and Mediate’s bogey on 16, Perry’s lead was up to five and he was well on his way to his fourth win since he joined the Champions Tour in 2010.
Funk, the 2009 champion, was runner-up for the second straight year and third time since 2008. He was tied with Perry after the third round but couldn’t make much headway, shooting a final-round 68.
Corey Pavin made a strong run, stringing together five birdies from Nos. 7-11 to move into a tie for second place at one point. He finished with a 67 and tied for third with Mediate (66) at 7 under.
The 54-year-old Allen needed acupuncture treatments for a pinched nerve in his neck to be able to play the last three rounds.
His five-shot lead through 36 holes was the largest in tournament history. He followed his course-record 63 on Friday with a pair of 72s that left him in fifth place.