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PGA: Kentucky's Kenny Perry Grateful for 'One More Time' at Valhalla

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This week’s PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville will likely be the last appearance by Kenny Perry in any of professional golf's four major championships.     

The Franklin, Kentucky resident is expected to begin focusing exclusively on the Champions Tour for golfers 50 and over."(I'm) just excited for the opportunity to go out the back door one more time, as they say, one more time," Perry said Tuesday. Valhalla was the site of one of the biggest heartbreaks of Perry’s playing career.    He finished second in a playoff to Mark Brooks in the 1996 PGA Championship.     But 12 years later there was triumph,  as Perry’s Ryder Cup team defeated the Europeans at Valhalla."My dad at 86 years old coming on the green in his bib overalls and giving me a hug, it was a pretty special moment for a father and son."  Perry recalled. Now 54, Perry says he’s grateful for the chance to play in the PGA Championship a final time, and do it in Kentucky. Perry spent about an hour signing autographs after his Tuesday practice round.     He says the extra attention he's getting is not a distraction from his preparations.    Perry joked that he hasn’t had to sign all that many autographs over the years."To me, it’s my way to say thank you for 30 years of support, thank you for your love and your compassion for me.   I enjoyed it.   There were a lot of people yelling out where they were from---Glasgow, Kentucky, Bowling Green, Kentucky—(and) just all these little towns that are around Franklin where I live."  Kenny Perry will tee off Thursday afternoon at 1:35 in the opening round of the PGA Championship.

Rick Howlett is host of WFPL's weekly talk show, "In Conversation." Email Rick at rhowlett@lpm.org.