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Wofford College was the only school to offer the former Blacksburg standout a chance to play golf, but the senior has worked his way up.
Courtesy of Wofford
Wofford senior George Perkovich posted his first college victory at the Donald Ross Intercollegiate championship last week.
Monday, October 21, 2013
From the outhouse to the penthouse ... from nowhere to somewhere.
Blacksburg's George Perkovich has worn out both roads since last Tuesday in Morganton, N.C,
In a script that could have come straight out of "Tin Cup," the Wofford College senior stunned the field at the Donald Ross Intercollegiate championship by posting his first college victory.
The story of the long-shot winner was far from routine. He had to fend off a golfer's most-despised villain along the way.
"It's kind of a joke to be honest with you," said Perkovich, speaking via cell phone from his Spartanburg, S.C., apartment Friday.
Cutting straight to the bizarre chase, Perkovich laughed and said: "The last nine holes of the tournament I was playing well and I had two shanks - one with a 5-iron and one with a 4-iron.
"But I fought through it. It's pretty hard to play golf when you've got the shank in the back of your mind. Somehow, I was 2 under at the turn and said, ‘hey, man, just nine more holes and just get in around even par on the last nine'. So I shot 1 over shanking the ball. It was fun!"
His father, Frank, witnessed the wild back-nine ride. It wasn't for those a bit queasy.
"George was grinding so hard because it was such a crazy round with the shanks and everything,'' said Frank Perkovich, a Blacksburg restauranteur. "He said at one point to me: ‘Unless I'm hitting driver or pitching wedge, I'm a little concerned!'
"His hands afterwards were just shaking from all that adrenaline rush, it was kinda unwinding and he was trembling, he says, ‘man, I know what it's like to be alive out there!' He felt the whole spectrum."
Shanks a lot, right? Bring it. Perkovich will take any kudo fired his way at this point of the game. We're talking a walk-on who never played as a freshman, played one event his sophomore year and just four times last season.
Counting his first start this year, the former Blacksburg High School standout had a pedestrian average finish of 53rd in six career events.
Then, out of nowhere, came a seventh-place finish at the Wisconsin Badger Invitational (Sept. 29-Oct. 1). Two weeks later and Perkovich was a winner.
Well, a co-winner with Bethune-Cookman's Ryan Fricker at 8-under-par 202. There was no playoff since Frickler's Florida-based team had tight travel arrangements.
Perkovich didn't argue. He's just glad to have a shot to show that he can play. It's even better to finally prove it.
"It's funny because all my buddies on the team are like, ‘wow, you've gone from a walk-on to a possible All-American!'" said Perkovich, breaking into laughter.
Frank Perkovich said his son's story is about a kid nobody wanted coming out of a Blacksburg High School program that won three straight state titles from 2006-08.
"George played baseball, too, and I think that was a big problem,'' Frank Perkovich said.
"He wasn't playing all the AJGA stuff but he would go to tournaments and beat these kids who were going to Wake and UNC, and I'm thinking what in the hell is going on?
"There were 14 teams [at the Donald Ross] and probably eight of them George had written to in high school. Clearly, teams he could play on. And they never had the decency of writing him back except for the Wofford coach [Vic Lipscomb], who told him that he could walk on.
"So this was complete validation, here nobody wanted this kid ... even when he came to Wofford he didn't even get a [team] golf bag his first year. Then they got him a used one the next.
"And he was beating these kids, but they were all on scholarship. The coach is not going to play somebody who is a walk-on. It really wasn't until the first tournament this year that [Lipscomb] had to watch him for 36 straight holes as the whole team played together, and I could see the look on his face like this kid can really play.
"He's averaged 71 since.
"And I'm pretty darned proud of him, that's for sure."
And the fun-loving kid? Hey, he's living up to his high school nickname of "Perky" again. Shooting 68-65-69 and finishing atop a tournament leaderboard works wonders.
"Obviously, this took longer than I wanted,'' he said. "It's a nice burden lifted off my chest."
Yes, everybody loves a winner.
Perky laughed at that one.
"Unfortunately, I have a girlfriend," he offered. "But know what? The women are flocking to me now. I've got to shoo 'em away!"
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