Pat Perez, a three-time PGA Tour winner, characterized the LIV Golf Series as “winning the lottery” ahead of his debut at Pumpkin Ridge in Portland.
Perez, who became professional in 1997 before joining the PGA Tour a year later, explained the long-term impact that constant travel has had on him and his family.
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“It’s quite straightforward for me. I’m 46. I’ve competed in 515 events. I’ve been traveling since 1998. I have a four-year-old son. Last year, I was unable to attend my son’s birth. On August 18, I get a call that my wife is in labor. I’m in New Jersey. I’m about to begin the FedEx playoffs. I’m number 116 on the list. I’m unable to leave. I’m not going to miss it. I won’t be able to return. I can’t travel there and return without spending $150,000 on a private plane. I’m not going to do that. So I had to suck on it and miss the birth of my baby.”
He continued: “Fortunately, I made the cut and improved my standing by playing well, but it still sucked. I’ll have to explain why I wasn’t there one day. And, once again, I’m a 30-to-33-week man. I used to do that every year, but now I don’t have to. And I get to spend time with them. I get to spend time with my family.”
Perez’s remarks echoed those of Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka, who both stated that spending more time at home was a crucial factor in their decision to compete in the Saudi-backed Series.
“At my age, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I’ll be playing seven [events] this year and whatever more comes up in the future. For a guy my age who has been on the road, it’s a no-brainer. I’ve taken three weeks off and I’m feeling wonderful. The bottom line is that I couldn’t be more excited about this. The basic line is that I’m sick of being on the road every day, and I don’t have to do it anymore. For me, this opportunity has been like winning the jackpot. It’s amazing. I couldn’t be happier.”
Perez, on the other hand, refused to be drawn into the widespread criticism the LIV Golf Series continues to face for its affiliation with Saudi Arabia, as well as the ongoing claims that its competitors are involved in “sportswashing” the Kingdom’s human rights violations.
“I’m at the golf course. My only issue is that this organisation has given me the opportunity to play golf and have a different schedule.” He continued: “I realise the issues you’re attempting to raise, and they’re tragic incidents, but I’m here to play golf. That’s my offer. I have one chance to play golf, and that’s it.”
Perez will join fellow Americans Talor Gooch and Patrick Reed on Dustin Johnson’s 4Aces team in Portland.