Powerful memories await Kenny Perry when he returns to Augusta National next week.
He went from the exhilarating sense he was on the verge of winning the Masters last year to the dispiriting realization he had chunked away a dream.
With his magnificent birdie at the 16th in that Sunday final round, Perry took a two-shot lead in his bid to win his first major. But with bogeys at the final two holes, he paved the way for Angel Cabrera’s playoff victory.
Perry’s reaction to the loss, his grace and his perspective in defeat, won him fans around the world. He talks about his return to the Masters in a Quick Round:
What’s your frame of mind going to Augusta National next week?
I have no expectations, kind of like last year. I’m just going back with a lot of memories, lot of heartaches and a lot of smiles.
How do you choose to remember what happened there last year?
I remember it with all positives, there are no negatives. I played my heart out, it just didn’t happen.
Do you still have moments where you think, `Lord, I could have won the Masters if only . . . ?”
No, I let it go. I’m too old to be worrying about the past anymore.
How long did it take to let it go?
Maybe one three-hour car ride and I was over it.
How’s your game going there this year?
It’s probably half of what it was last year. I got nothing. I got injuries. I got a right elbow that’s killing me, a right knee that’s killing me. I have some physical problems that are keeping me from practicing and getting my game ready for what I need to do. I’m turning 50, and it had to hit me sooner or later.
A lot of fans embraced you in last year’s defeat and will eagerly welcome you back.
The love from the world was awesome. I had over a 1,000 e-mails and letters. It was just remarkable how much support I received from people all over the world.
You turn 50 on Aug. 10. How much will we see you on the Champions Tour versus the PGA Tour?
A lot of people are asking me that. At this stage, I don’t know how to answer it. If my game is good enough to compete on the regular Tour, I’ll play the regular Tour. But, physically, I’ve already lost 10 yards off my driver and my game’s really on a decline. If I want to focus in on retiring, you’ll see me on the Champions Tour. If you want to see me competitive, you’ll see me on the PGA Tour.
It’s possible you could be paired with Tiger at the Masters. What would you think of that?
It is going to be hard for whoever’s paired with him, but it wouldn’t bother me.
While other players have said it will be awkward seeing Tiger again, you have a plan. You said you’ll hug him. Tell us about that.
I’m a man of faith. I believe nobody in this world is perfect. I believe we are all sinners, and we all make mistakes, but the real issue is he says he is going to change and I want to give him that chance to change. I’m definitely going to forgive him, if he asks for it, and he’s asked for it. I just believe America should give him a shot.