Kenny Perry had bogeys on his final two holes Saturday and almost certainly won't be in contention Sunday for a possible first major championship victory at the 133rd British Open at Royal Troon.
Still, even if he can't win from eight shots behind, he'll be satisfied, albeit with some regrets about not warming to links-style golf until late in his career.
"When I look back, I can kick myself, because I've had so much fun whenever I've come over here the last couple of years, that I didn't realize what I was missing," said Perry, 43 and playing in this event for only the third time. "I kind of got lost in what I was doing with my life. Now, I just want a little piece of history. I want to have a chance to come over and compete and try to win this tournament. It's starting to mean a lot to me. I love the people over here, and I've just had a blast."
Perry, who posted 73-212 after 54 holes, first played the British Open in 1991 and missed the cut at Royal Birkdale in England. He didn't come back until last year's event, at England's Royal St. Georges, where he tied for eighth. He said part of the reason he chose not to play, even when he was exempt into the field, was because he had a young family "and I wanted to be with them."
"I didn't want [them] to be too far away from me, they needed me at home," he said. "Now they're gone, and it's 'Do you want to go with me? No dad, I've got my own things to do.' Everything is good at home, so it freed me up to relax and enjoy my golf a little more the last couple of years . . . I want to play all these courses over here at least once. It's just fun, exciting to me.
"Back in the 1990s, when I was playing some pretty good golf, I kind of forgot what the game was all about. Maybe I made too much money, but whatever the reason, I didn't come and I'm sorry."
Todd Hamilton, a second-year PGA Tour pro, spent 10 seasons playing on the Asian and Japanese tours, perfect preparation for conditions at a British Open. Hamilton, the 54-hole leader, said the first year he was in Japan, he won a tournament, and because he had other American friends playing there, he decided to stay awhile.
"It was fun at times," said Hamilton, who had his first tour victory at the Honda Classic on the Florida swing this season. "But it was also really different conditions, courses we were not used to in terms of conditioning, even design-wise they were different. I'm glad it worked out that way. It might have taken me longer to get where I wanted to, but I'm happy I went through that patience building."
Frenchman Thomas Levet, who led the tournament after the first round and is tied for third after 54 holes, two shots off the lead, can keep score and converse on a golf course in six languages, and he's also trying to teach himself a seventh, Japanese.
Levet is the son of a doctor who played hockey and tennis in high school, and his mother played volleyball at the international level. Levet is the first Frenchman to play on the tour, earning his card in 1994 and also playing a lot of golf on the European circuit.
He stopped playing on the American tour after the 2003 season when he managed only one top-10 finish. This year, back on the European Tour, he had his first victory of the season last week at the Scottish Open, and has had four other top-10 events, including second at the Italian Open.
He also has a refreshingly sportsmanlike attitude toward the game, a trait displayed in the 2002 British Open at Muirfield when he lost in a sudden-death playoff to Ernie Els. After Els had clinched the victory, the 5-foot-9 Levet hugged the 6-3 South African and even lifted him off the ground.
"A golf shot is only a golf shot," he said. "It can't change your life."