THE WOODLANDS, Texas — Kenny Perry had a bad feeling when his putter fell apart in his first PGA Tour event of the year, the SBS Championships in Hawaii.
No, not his putting stroke fell apart. His actual putter went to pieces. Perry was hitting his final practice putt before teeing off at Kapalua when the putter head fell right off the shaft. His favorite one, too.
Perry turned to his son who was caddying and said, "Justin, it's going to be a bad year."
The 14-time winner on the PGA Tour turned 50 on Aug. 10, making him eligible for the Champions Tour, and he'll make his debut Friday at the Administaff Small Business Classic — hoping that the new scenery will help him rejuvenate his game.
"It's neat to get back with the guys you played with in your junior years," said Perry, who has played on two Ryder Cup teams and three President's Cup teams. "They've been calling me rookie all week. I have a hard time getting used to that. It's hard to believe I'm 50."
Perry missed the cut in three of the last five PGA Tour events he played, then spent six weeks off to rest and prepare for the senior circuit.
"It seems I went flat this year," Perry said. "In all the years I was on the tour I felt like I needed to win. I didn't feel like I needed to win this year. It was just a letdown. We're going to rekindle the fire this off-season and see what happens."
Perry already is feeling better after taking time off.
"It's been a neat two days since I've been here," he said. "I've had all the guys coming up and welcoming me to this tour — Hale Irwin, Curtis Strange, Mark O'Meara, Ben Crenshaw. It's the who's who of golf. All these guys I've looked up to my whole career and who made me the player I am and they're all here playing."
Perry was a member of the 2008 Ryder Cup team and had a good year in 2009 with victories at the FBR Open and the Travelers Championship. He tied for second in the Masters and fourth at the Tour Championship, before everything suddenly unraveled.
"I'd kind of gotten burned out," he said. "I threw everything I have at the '08 Ryder Cup and it seemed from then on I've lost focus. ... I had a good 2009 but this year has seemed to be just a mediocre year. I didn't have goals. I was just plodding along."
Perry has four exempt years remaining on the PGA tour, but his focus is only on this week. "You'll probably see me splitting time," Perry said. "If I keep having a lot of fun like I'm having this week, I might branch on over this way more."