Pat Perez on form after surgery

Pat Perez had a PGA Tour event in Mexico in his plans when he returned from shoulder surgery that kept him out for seven months.

Now it's looking like two trips to Mexico.

Perez had surgery in March to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder and started the season on a major medical extension, giving him 15 events to regain his card. In an amazing turnaround, Perez won in his third event back with a 62-67 weekend at the OHL Classic in Mayakoba for a two-shot victory in November.

''The ultimate up-and-down year,'' he called.

But it gets even better, because Perez didn't stop there.

He shot a 67 in the final round at Kapalua to tie for third. And then last week in the Farmers Insurance Open, which Perez refers to as his fifth major from having grown up at Torrey Pines, he stayed in the hunt for much of the back nine until Jon Rahm pulled away for a three-shot victory. Perez wound up in a tie for fourth.

Midway through the West Coast Swing, Perez already has a career-best $2.1 million in earnings and he ranks No. 3 in the FedEx Cup. He is virtually a lock to stay in the top 10 after the Honda Classic, which would get him into the World Golf Championship in Mexico City.

It would be only his sixth WGC event.

Perez was at No. 350 in the world when he returned to competition. Now he's at No. 71, and closing in on the top 64 that would get him into the Dell Match Play two weeks before the Masters.

Not bad for a guy who at age 40 spent the better half of a year immobilized, his arm in a sling and his future never more uncertain.

''It was a great thing for me to take a break,'' Perez said during the Hawaii swing. ''I turned 40 and I'd already been out here 15 years. I used this as a mid-career break. It gave me time to think about what I wanted to do when I came back. What do I want to work on? How do I want to play? How do I want to attack? You have nothing to do but sit around all day and think.''

Whatever was on his mind, it has paid off.

His great play has set up Perez for one tournament that he remarkably has never played - the Tour Championship.

He finished 40th on the money list his rookie year in 2002, but all that got him into was the Masters the following year (Augusta National used to take the top 40 on the previous year's money list). To date, that's his highest finish on the money list. He was in the mid-40s twice going into the BMW Championship, but failed to do well enough to crack the top 30 in the FedEx Cup and get to East Lake.

The year is still young, but Perez is sure trending in the right direction. And even if he doesn't make it this year, he takes pride in that he has never lost his PGA Tour card since making it through Q-school in 2001.

''Everyone says, 'Do you wish you'd won more?' Who doesn't?'' he said. ''There's also guys who haven't kept their job as long as me. What I get done with my status, if I don't win again, I'm going to have 19 years straight. There aren't a lot of guys who can say that. When you manage to keep your job 16 times in a row, that's pretty good. It speaks for consistency.''