Unbridled passion, it seems. Without prompting, Maruyama says, "The goal of my life is to win in mainland America." That is something no Japanese player has ever done on the PGA Tour. ( Isao Aoki won the '83 Hawaiian Open but was never able to make the leap across the Pacific.) Maruyama claims to have rededicated himself following last year's Masters, of which he has jokingly declared himself the nine-hole champion. He did, indeed, lead the tournament at the turn on Thursday, at three under, only to miss the cut by shooting 74-80. One noticeable sign of Maruyama's renewed commitment is that his physical condition has improved considerably, thanks to a workout regimen. At 5'7" and 185 pounds he still looks like a Teletubbie, but, says Tsunezumi, "He might look chubby, but his body is very solid."
Maruyama is also learning that to stay in peak form he must sometimes say no. Last week at Waialae Country Club he shot 73-72 and missed the cut by three strokes. He blamed his lackluster play on not being mentally fresh due to the whirlwind that followed the Presidents Cup. He plans to lay low until the World Match Play at La Costa next month. Then he will tune up for Augusta by playing the Players Championship as well as the BellSouth Classic. Mix in the other majors and World events, and probably a couple more tournaments in the summer, and the Tour will be seeing a lot of Maruyama's sunny visage this year, which is not necessarily good news for the home folks. "I'm not a person who talks big, but I've always believed that I could compete with the best," says Maruyama. "Now after the Presidents Cup, I know I can."
Maruyama's face lit up with one of his trademark smiles. "I've also learned the secret to why the Americans hit the ball so far," he said. "They grew up eating cheeseburgers, not rice." Then, in shocking English, Maruyama boomed, "Cheeseburger power! I will eat cheeseburgers!"