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Passionate Pursuit

A solid 2007 campaign has Pat Perez looking forward to the new year.

By Eli MillerPublished: December, 2007

The past doesn't lie, nor do the stats: Pat Perez is one of the most emotional and talented players on the PGA Tour.

Unlike past years, though, his talent came to the fore in 2007.

The former San Diego resident made his sixth year on the circuit the most lucrative, finishing 52nd on the money list with more than $1.6 million in earnings. He also set personal bests with six top-10 finishes and a 70.05 scoring average, which ranked 22nd on tour.

Heading into 2008, his vision is clear.

"I'm still trying to get that win," said Perez. "Guys do it all the time. I've got to figure out what that last part is to get it done."

That element could be physical fitness. Perez has been spending a good deal of his offseason at the renowned Athletes' Performance training center in Tempe, Arizona, located a short distance from his Scottsdale home.

Or, it could be course management.

"Maybe it's just making a little better decisions during four days," he added.
Whatever it takes for Perez to get over the hump, he hopes he can at least work toward it early in his 2008 campaign.

Not only will he be playing at familiar locales during the West Coast Swing, but he also will have the added incentive of trying to qualify for the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. Perez, who worked at Torrey as a youngster and defeated Tiger Woods there at the 1993 Junior World Championship, heads into '08 ranked 68th in the world and needs to be inside the top 50 at the end of May to guarantee entry.

"I need to get in that. That would be the best of all things for me," said Perez.

The 2001 PGA Tour Qualifying School medalist has remained ambitious as a professional, though his ambition has sometimes been overshadowed by tempestuous outbursts. For instance, after falling out of contention on the 72nd hole at the 2002 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Perez tried to snap his 3-wood over his leg.

One way he's tried to remedy his image has been through his website, patperezgolf.com.

The sleek site features homepage music from rockers The Cult, a blog, and even a listing of the hi-tech gadgets Perez deems "tour necessities."

"I want people to see I'm a guy's guy," he said. "People just think I'm this angry guy walking around and I don't do anything - I just hide in a closet and I think about getting upset."

Perez also has become more involved with the Pin Pals Junior Links program, which was set up by his dad, Tony. The organization's aim is to introduce golf to underprivileged youths in southern San Diego County.

"Kids can get influenced so easily, and the golf course seems like the easiest way to keep them out of trouble," said the younger Perez. "It's turned out great."

Tony Perez, who has seen each step of Pat's rise, feels his son has become a more mature player.

"He's shaking the bad shots off faster and better," Tony said. "Once he gets over the hurdle with that first W, he'll continue to climb and it will be easier to get more W's."  SG