(Reuters) - American Pat Perez, benefiting from a greatly improved mental approach to the game, ended a seven-year title drought on the PGA Tour with a two-shot victory in the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in Mexico on Sunday.
In only his third tournament back since being sidelined for eight months by a shoulder injury, the long-haired Perez used a fast start and clutch finish to seal his second win on the U.S. circuit with a closing four-under-par 67.
Though he made his only bogey of the day at the par-four 12th after hitting a wayward tee shot and a poor chip for his third, he comfortably parred the final six holes to post a 21-under total of 263.
Fellow American Gary Woodland, the third-round leader, rebounded from a shaky front nine and birdied 17 and 18 for a 70 to finish alone in second with Scotland’s Russell Knox (66) a further stroke back at 18-under.
“I was really calm all day,” Perez, who birdied five of the first eight holes to surge to the top of the leaderboard, told Golf Channel.
“I have had this aggressive type of attitude, amongst other things, for the last two weeks, and I just had a lot of confidence when I came back.
“I’ve tried to stay aggressive and tried to play the right shot... and not worry about what happens. It’s really worked.”
The 40-year-old from Arizona, who won his first PGA Tour title at the 2009 Bob Hope Classic, often let himself down in the past with a hot-headed approach on the golf course.
By his own admission, however, Perez has become a much calmer figure since his second marriage in late 2014, along with plenty of hard work on his mental strategy after his lengthy absence from the tour began in late February.
“I started up again about two-and-a-half months ago and I didn’t think it (winning) was going to happen this fast,” said Perez, who has made just three starts on the 2016-17 PGA Tour while competing on a major medical exemption.
“But I thought I was going to be pretty successful in my comeback,” he smiled.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Tony Jimenez/Andrew Both/Ian Chadband