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Perry ties course record for third 3M Championship win

Kenny Perry gets a hug from his caddie Ryan Cochran after winning the 3M Championships on Sunday, Aug. 5, in Blaine, Minn. Perry had a three-day score of 66-60-69 for a 195 total. Scott Takushi / St. Paul Pioneer Press

BLAINE, Minn. — The grandmaster of TPC Twin Cities is coming back next summer to show the young guns how it's done.

Less than an hour after winning his third 3M Championship with a three-round total of 21 under par, Kenny Perry announced he's coming back for the 3M Open — the PGA Tour event coming to Blaine next July. Anyone in the top 50 on the PGA Tour's all-time money list can use their standing for a one-time, season-long exemption onto the tour. The 57-year-old Perry, who is in the top 30 on the all-time money list, plans to cash in on that status next season, seemingly for the sole purpose of returning to Blaine.

"I'll be back," Perry said. "I'm going to play."

If history is any indication, he's going to play well. Perry shot a 3-under 69 on Sunday, Aug. 5, to secure another 3M Championship title, besting second-place finisher Wes Short Jr. by three strokes. No one else was within five strokes. Perry has owned TPC Twin Cities during his Champions Tour career, winning three times to go with a second-, a third- and two seventh-place finishes.

"It just seems like when I go to a place and win, I just feel like I can win there again," Perry said.

That proved true over the weekend. Perry underwent shoulder surgery last November. That kept him away from the game for six months and has limited his practice time, which has resulted in inconsistent play all season. Yet he looked like his old self in Blaine, including a 12-under round of 60 on Saturday, which tied the course record. He joined Hale Irwin as the event's only three-time winner.

Entering Sunday with a five-shot lead, Perry found himself stuck somewhere between conservative and aggressive, which led to him bogeying No. 6 and No. 7. Suddenly, a five-shot lead was trimmed to one, with Glen Day hot on his heels.

"I hit every shot in the book today," Perry said after listing off his errant shots throughout the round. "I was everywhere."

No matter, Perry responded with a birdie on No. 9, then shot 3 under on the back nine, including a birdie on No. 18. That was more than enough to hold off Short, who fired a final day 63.

"I said, 'Let's just ride this storm out and see what we get,'" Perry said. "I was able to just stay ahead of them, just enough each time to creep out ahead of them where they couldn't get by me."

Will he be able to do the same next year against the PGA Tour players? Perry knows the course will be different — it'll be lengthened, with narrower fairways and likely tougher angles into the green.

"This course fits me to a 'T' " Perry said. "I hate that they're going to change it for next year. It's going to be so long next year, I probably won't even recognize it when I come back. But I do know the greens, I understand them, I love putting these greens ... but I'll be back there hitting long irons and those kids will be hitting wedges, so it's going to be hard to beat them."

But fans will enjoy watching him try. And Perry might not be the only 50-plus year old on the course next year. Perry said tournament director Hollis Cavner mentioned that the event may give Minnesota native Tom Lehman an exemption into next year's 3M Open. Lehman, who finished in a tie for 10th at 12 under this weekend, is consulting on the course's renovation.

"It'll probably be Tom and I the Champions Tour playing here next year," Perry said.

Would Lehman entertain the idea of playing in next summer's event?

"If I was invited I would probably think about it, yeah," Lehman said. "With that said, I've got to rethink that whole strategy of the renovation, give myself a chance."