| Tour Insider

At 41 years of age, Amer­i­can Pat Perez is en­joy­ing a ca­reer re­nais­sance. With faith­ful cad­die Mike Hart­ford by his side, the reign­ing CIMB Clas­sic cham­pion re­counts his amaz­ing jour­ney to PGATOUR.COM’s Cameron Mor­fit and gives a won­der­ful in­sight of their

HK Golfer - - Contents - By Cameron Mor­fit

At 41 years of age, Amer­i­can Pat Perez is en­joy­ing a ca­reer re­nais­sance, with faith­ful cad­die Mike Hart­ford by his side.

Pat Perez re­mem­bers his cad­die’s “Tom Kite glasses.” Mike Hart­ford re­mem­bers his boss’s sense of hu­mor and en­vi­able tal­ent. They met as teenagers, and Perez, 41, and Hart­ford, 42, have rarely gone more than a day or two apart since. It’s been a fruit­ful part­ner­ship; they’ve racked up three PGA TOUR vic­to­ries, in­clud­ing two in the last 16 months, and more than $23 mil­lion in ca­reer earn­ings. And Perez has been hover­ing around the top of the FedExCup stand­ing since the be­gin­ning of the 2017-18 sea­son.

Perez and Hart­ford also re­cently be­came the long­est-run­ning ex­clu­sive player-cad­die part­ner­ship in the game.

“I knew way back in the day,” Perez says. “Af­ter high school and col­lege, still be­ing in touch, I knew that he was go­ing to be in my life for­ever. He was just that kind of guy; that kind of friend.”

“I just al­ways wanted to be around him be­cause he was so funny,” Hart­ford says, “but also be­cause he was a great player and he was try­ing to help me work on my game.”

Jim Furyk and Mike “Fluff” Cowan have been to­gether longer, but Furyk has had other full-time cad­dies, while Perez has never had any­one but the man he calls “H.” When Phil Mick­el­son and Jim “Bones” Mackay split last sum­mer, Perez/Hart­ford went to the top of the list of the most time-tested ac­tive tandems on TOUR.

They have walked side-by-side since Perez’s rookie TOUR year in 2002, on the Web.com Tour be­fore that, and as am­a­teurs be­fore that. When Perez won the 1993 Ju­nior World at Tor­rey Pines, Hart­ford drove him to the course each day. (Perez had to­taled his car and needed a ride.) They have been to­gether so long that Perez used to work for Hart­ford, not the other way around. Hart­ford started a lawn-care busi­ness when he was 11, and hired Perez some five years later. “He was the fastest worker I ever had,” Hart­ford says with a laugh.

Their part­ner­ship has aged slowly, and well. “I al­ways say there are maybe five com­bi­na­tions out there where no one cad­die could do a bet­ter job for a player than that par­tic­u­lar cad­die,” says John “Cubby” Burke, who has cad­died for Brad Faxon, Davis Love III and oth­ers in a ca­reer that has spanned 32 years. “Ev­ery­one else is kind of in­ter­change­able. There isn’t an­other cad­die out there could do a bet­ter job for Pat than H.

“I would say the same thing about Bubba Wat­son and Ted Scott,” Burke con­tin­ues. “Mick­el­son and Bones had it, and Freddy Cou­ples and Joe LaCava. That’s about it. That’s rare air.”

But how have they done it? Even Perez ad­mits he

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