Pat Perez had a very straightforward, honest answer when asked why he joined the LIV Golf Invitational Series on Tuesday.
After months of controversy and players ducking or avoiding questions about the Saudi Arabian-backed league, it was refreshing.
Perez was among the latest wave of golfers to join the LIV Golf series, and he’ll make his debut this week outside of Portland at Pumpkin Ridge. It’s unclear how much Perez was paid to make the jump from the PGA Tour to the LIV series, but it’s reportedly around the $10 million mark.
While he said plainly that he didn’t have any concerns regarding Saudi Arabia’s alleged crimes and poor human rights records, he was very honest about why he joined the league in the first place.
Last season, while fighting for a spot in the FedExCup Playoffs on Tour, Perez missed the birth of his son.
“August 18, I get a call my wife’s going into labor,” Perez said, via CBS’ Kyle Porter. “I’m in Jersey. I’m getting ready to start the FedEx Playoffs. I’m No. 116 on the list, I can’t leave. I can’t miss it. I can’t get back. I can’t get [to my wife] and back without spending $150,000 on a private flight. I’m not doing that.
“So I had to suck on it and I had to miss my son’s birth. And, you know, fortunately I made the cut and I moved up my status by playing all right, but it still sucked. I have to tell him one day why I wasn’t there.”
Perez finished T16 at The Northern Trust last year, which marked his final event of the season. He finished No. 80 in the FedExCup standings that season, which earned him exempt status through the end of this season — though, now that he’s with LIV Golf, he won’t be allowed to compete on Tour.
Perez, 46, has won three times on the PGA Tour, most recently at the CIMB Classic in 2017. He had just three top-10 finishes on Tour so far this season, and most recently finished T26 at the Memorial Tournament earlier this month. He’s currently ranked No. 170 in the Official World Golf Rankings.
As far as reasons to leave the PGA Tour for a lighter schedule and more money, it’s hard to blame Perez considering what he went through last fall.
“I’m a 30-33 week guy. Every year I’ve done it, and now I don’t have to,” Perez said. “And I get to be with them. I get to be with my family. At my age, this is an absolute golden opportunity for me … It’s a no-brainer for a guy my age that’s been on the road.”
What about the Saudi Arabian controversy?
Perez, along with Brooks Koepka and other first-time LIV members, was asked directly how he can square accepting money from Saudi Arabia after the country’s horrific record on human rights.
Perez, and Koepka, didn’t care about any of that.
“I don’t have any concerns,” Perez said. “I’m playing golf … I understand the topics you’re trying to bring up, and they’re horrible events, but I’m here to play golf.”