PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico — Pat Perez won the OHL Classic at Mayakoba on Sunday in his third start since returning from shoulder surgery.
Perez closed with 4-under 67 for a two-stroke victory over third-round leader Gary Woodland on the Greg Norman-designed El Camaleon course. Perez finished at 21-under 263.
“I had an attitude that I can’t really repeat, but I had a lot of thoughts going on,” Perez said. “The main one was I wanted to stay aggressive. I knew if I just stayed aggressive I was seeing the line great on the putting green. … This type of grass and these greens, if you can get it on line you can make them.
“I just saw the line, I thought I could make them all and I just had a confidence. I had an entirely different attitude than I would have had a few years ago. It was definitely a different win than last time. Last time, I was a little more scared coming down the stretch. I didn’t really believe and this and that. This time, I really had like this calmness, kind of like a madness to get it done.”
Perez had surgery on his shoulder in February. He returned with a tie for 33rd in Malaysia, and tied for seventh last week in Las Vegas.
“When you hit 40 and then you have surgery, it’s like ‘Oh, God, you know, what are we going to do?’” Perez said.
“I had sleepless nights, I had a lot of sleepless nights wondering, ‘What are we going to do? How are we going to do this? What’s going to happen here? What would happen here? Because all you do is sit around and think. That’s all you have time is to sit around. You’re just sitting in a sling doing nothing and you can’t hit balls for five months. I had a lot of time to think about a lot of things.”
Perez shot 62 on Saturday to pull within a stroke of Woodland. The 40-year-old former Arizona State player birdied five of the first eight holes and had a bogey on the par-4 12th.
“In a lot of ways, when you win you’ve got to have a lot of things go your way,” Perez said. “You’ve got to make a lot of putts, you need some help from other players. It’s everything. It’s so hard to win. But I just had this different look about it this week and I’ll hopefully carry that through for a while.”
He also won the 2009 Bob Hope Classic.
“I guess I’m just one of those late-maturers,” Perez said. “I know I was sort of a punk and all that early on, but I think I learned a lot about myself in the last nine, 10 months and it just paid off this week. I couldn’t be more excited about what’s going on.”
Woodland birdied the final two holes for a 70.
Russell Knox was third at 18-under after a 66.
“I wasn’t all that comfortable out there.” Knox said. “This course kind of makes you put the steer on sometimes, but I made seven birdies. A couple mistakes, but overall starting the day I would have taken 66.”
Chez Reavie (67), Kevin Streelman (65) and Scott Piercy (70) were 17 under.
“Great first, third and fourth rounds, just struggled there on Friday, which cost me winning the tournament, but a lot of good stuff,” Streelman said, pointing to a second-round 73. “Obviously, it’s early in the year and real excited.”