The Masters Final Round: No Country For Old Men Like Kenny Perry?

Duane WinnCorrespondent IApril 11, 2009

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 11:  Kenny Perry hits his tee shot on the 17th hole during the third round of the 2009 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 11, 2009 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

If Kenny Perry is able to withstand Father Time and the charge of other golfers Sunday, it would make for one of the best feel-good stories of 2009—or any other year.

After three rounds, Perry is tied atop the Masters' leaderboard at 11-under-par with Angel Cabrera. He is in position to become the oldest champion of the tournament at age 48.

Yet, not only his age, but history is against him.

Fred Couples, 46, found himself only three strokes back of the lead in the 2006 Masters. He carded a final round 71 to finish in a tie for third, three strokes back of Phil Mickelson.

Bernhard Langer, 46, who won the Green Jacket in 1985 and 1993, drew within three strokes of the lead in the 2004 Masters with a birdie on No. 14 in the final round.

A double-bogey on the next hole ended his shot at succeeding Jack Nicklaus, who was 46 when he won the tournament for the final time in 1986, as the oldest Masters champion in history.

Raymond Floyd, 48, fashioned a workmanlike 72 in the final round of the 1990 Masters. Nick Faldo, though, roared back with a 69  on Sunday, and the two proceeded to a sudden-death playoff which Faldo won on the second hole.

Other golfers past age 40 have also won the Masters besides Nicklaus, including Gary Player, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and Ben Crenshaw. But they all, like the Golden Bear, had won a Masters crown before.

Perry has won 13 times in 571 PGA Tour events, but never a major. Although he's playing some of the best golf of his career, it's questionable whether he can hold off at arm's length the likes of Cabrera, Mickelson, Tiger Woods, and Jim Furyk, who have each won at least one major, or Chad Campbell, Tim Clark and Poulter, who have each finished either second or third before at the Masters.

Perry is also no stranger to pressure in a major. He had a chance to win the 1996 PGA but he lost in a playoff to Mark Brooks. He also finished in a tie for third in the 2003 U.S. Open. Yet, Perry's best finish is a tie for 12th in 1995.

Perry will likely give a good account of himself Sunday. But will it be enough in the face of such seemingly insurmountable odds?

Only time—and perhaps history and age, will tell.