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May 22 2010

9:44 PM

Pernice gets close-up of Spieth

Tom Pernice Jr. has two PGA TOUR victories and last year won on the Champions Tour as a rookie. But despite a much more golfing resume than his playing partner on Saturday, he knows why his gallery was so filled during the third round.

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After all, he was playing with 16-year-old local amateur Jordan Spieth, who has become the story of this tournament after becoming the sixth youngest player to make a PGA TOUR cut on Friday, and then continuing his fine play on Saturday with a 67.

Oh, by the way, Pernice shot 66 to move into contention at 7 under for the tournament -- not that anyone noticed.

"I think it's the greatest thing," Pernice said of. "The only sad thing is I wish Byron Nelson was alive to see it. What (Spieth) has brought to the tournament this week is exciting."

Pernice enjoyed the day playing with the youngster. He told Spieth after they hit their opening drives that he had two daughters ages 15 and 16.

"So you know the perspective," Pernice added. "'You're the youngest and I'm the oldest.' So we got a chuckle out of that."

Pernice said he was impressed with Spieth's composure, how the reigning U.S. Junior Amateur champion hung in despite windy conditions that could have unraveled any player.

He said Spieth was aggressive all day, hitting driver on every hole (although Spieth later said he hit a couple of 3-woods). Spieth wasn't very accurate off the tee -- just 4 of 14 fairways hit -- but he kept firing at pins.

"That's just the way he plays now and that's OK," Pernice said about Spieth's aggressive play. "He's only 16 -- you can't know everything when you're 16."

But the veteran Pernice knows which players the fans will be following in the final round, wondering if Spieth can do the impossible and win a PGA TOUR event at age 16.

"It's always great playing in front of people instead of not playing in front of people," Pernice said. "I look for huge crowds again for him tomorrow. It's great for the tournament."

To replay Pernice's round on Shot Tracker, click here.

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