Friday, January 09, 2009

KAPALUA, Hawaii -- For all the talk of young guns Anthony Kim and Camilo Villegas heading into the season-opening Mercedes Championship, the leaderboard after round one was more notable for its familiar, veteran names. There's Kenny Perry, 48, who had three wins last year and says he's liable to run off another two or three in a row. He shot a 5-under-par 68 despite two loose front-nine bogeys and lurks a shot behind leader Geoff Ogilvy.   
"You know what, y'all may think I'm crazy," Perry said before the tournament began, "but I want to get 20 wins. I've got 12. Somehow I've got to win eight more times. I turn 50 in a year and a half. And is that a realistic goal? I think it is. I still think I can play well up into my mid-50s and be successful out here."
Tied with Perry was his playing partner Ernie Els, who is only 39 but already answering questions about the impending "big 4-0" next October. Els looked like his old self Thursday, the guy who won his first major back in 1994.
Then there's Davis Love III a shot back. He's 44. Joining Love at 4-under was Steve Lowery, 48. Ronald Reagan was in the White House when Love turned pro in 1985. The now pathetic San Francisco 49ers actually ruled the NFL. (It's true. Look it up.)
"I want to make Freddie's Presidents Cup team and get back to being competitive in the majors," Love said. "I had a taste of it at the British where I felt like I was close. And then, you know, I want to make it to the Tour Championship. I didn't make it to the Tour Championship the last couple of years, and I want to play for the FedExCup. Been kind of boring watching other guys play for it (laughter)."
When it comes to his career outlook, Love sounds a whole lot like Perry, who caught fire in his 40s and, not surprisingly, says he takes inspiration from Vijay Singh (46 next month).
"Somebody, I guess in the pro-am [Wednesday], said, 'The way you are hitting it, you could play out here for ten more years,'" Love said. "I said, 'Yeah, exactly.' That's what I want to do. I want to stay on this Tour competitive longer than anybody of my generation. I want to keep on playing."
And from whom does Love take inspiration? That would be his mother Penta, who followed him on foot for every shot of his round Thursday, despite the fact that Kapalua's Plantation Course, built into the side of the West Maui Mountains, is the undisputed hilliest, hardest walk on the PGA Tour. She's 83.

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