Cameron Percy needed only 10 putts on the back nine on Thursday in Puerto Rico. (Kolbe/Getty Images)
By Bill Cooney, PGATOUR.COM
Perhaps Cameron Percy will give his son an assist for his impressive start at the Puerto Rico Open presented by seepuertorico.com.
Percy needed just 23 putts -- 10 on the back nine -- during his nine-birdie, 7-under 65 that gave him a share of the first-round lead with Andres Romero on Thursday in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. American Blayne Barber was one shot back at 66.
Because his son had his putter last week, Percy didn't have a putter until late Wednesday afternoon. After testing a few Ping putters on the practice green, he tossed one in his bag. So far it's worked quite well.
"Well, they were all pretty short except for on 12," Percy said. "I holed about a 25-footer on 12, just a little left-to-righter. That was a nice one. The rest of them were all 5 and 6 feet sort of thing."
Percy also hit 11 of 14 fairways on the day, making birdies on four of his last seven holes.
Percy, who played the Web.com Tour last season, has made three of five cuts on the PGA TOUR in 2013. But his best finish was a T59 at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
"Just drove the ball really nicely," said Percy, whose best finish in two previous starts here was a T28 in 2011. "I've been trying to not hit the ball too hard, so I just tried and hit three-quarters drivers and just kept the ball in play and I did that today and it was quite nice."
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Tim Clark withdrew prior to his round due to an elbow injury. The reigning PLAYERS champion was replaced in the field by Cameron Percy.
Jeff Quinney is now the first alternate.
Troy Merritt had a chance to win the Kodak Challenge early Saturday -- until he nearly put his tee shot in the water on the 487-yard 17th hole. Merritt had to punch out and went on to make double bogey. That won’t hurt him in the Kodak Challenge since it’s a compilation of a player’s best 18 holes from the season-long race, but it does increase the likelihood of a playoff with Rickie Fowler and Aaron Baddeley. All three are tied for the Kodak lead and unless Merritt birdies No. 17 on Sunday, or Fowler or Baddeley eagle the hole, there will be a playoff. By the way, the 17th is playing so far pack the actual yardage is two yards longer than listed on the scorecard for today’s third round.
GARRIGUS MOVING UP: Robert Garrigus came into the week 122nd on the money list and still unable to forget about his admitted choke in Memphis, where he squandered a three-shot lead on the final hole and ultimately lost. Unless Garrigus has another meltdown, though, it looks like he will lock up his card for next season. Garrigus is currently tied for second at 12 under and is currently projected to move up to 71st ( click here for the live projected money list).
MORE MONEY MOVEMENT: The guy who might benefit the most from a big move at Disney today? Cameron Percy. He came into the week 144th on the money list, which is precariously close to missing out on conditional status for next year had he fallen outside the top 150. Percy is 4 under through eight holes today, however, and as a result is currently tied for fifth. He’s also projected to move to 124th on the money list, which would obviously lock up full status for next year.
HOWELL BOGEY-FREE: Charles Howell III is the only player in the field still without a bogey on his scorecard – that’s a stretch of 42 holes with Howell through six holes this morning. Howell has played 13 bogey-free rounds this season, which is best on TOUR. Ironically, he’s also the last player to go bogey-free in a 72-hole event and not win (at The Greenbrier Classic earlier this year).
A 36-year-old rookie from Australia is threatening to take down some big names in the final round at TPC Summerlin. Just who is this Nationwide Tour grad?
Before this year, Percy's biggest claim to fame was having played a round with Tiger Woods at the JBWere Australian Masters last November.
Percy didn't even play golf until he was 16. He didn't turn pro until he was 25.
"I didn't have enough money to turn pro," Percy said. "I would have loved to turn pro at 21 or 22, but I couldn't afford to travel anywhere."
Percy can make up a lot of ground with a win this week. He's still tied for the lead with three others at 18 under, and he knows anything short of a win will keep him out of the top 125 on the money list. This week was just the 10th cut he'd made all year.
"I've actually hit the ball really good this year," said Percy, who ranks 40th in Greens in Regulation Percentage but 177th in Putts per Round. "When you miss the fairways by a foot or two, it's the worst rough. That's what I do, I miss fairways by two or three yards, not 20 yards, so you feel like you've got to hack it out to get it to the green sort of thing. I've been putting really, really poorly this year, too, so that doesn't help."
"If I can win, all of a sudden you're in bigger tournaments, free money tournaments basically," Percy said. "Those free money tournaments add up when you're trying to keep your card. Well, even if I finish fifth it would still bump me up to about 160th on the Money List, so a [top-five] isn't going to cut it sort of thing. It's amazing how much money you've got to make."
PGA TOUR rookie Cameron Percy birdied the par-4 18th to shoot 62 and the clubhouse lead at TPC Summerlin. For the time being, Percy has a two-shot lead over fellow rookie Alex Prugh.
PGA TOUR rookie Cameron Percy, 185th on the money list, has birdied seven of his first 12 holes to become the first player at 15 under.
Percy, who has just two top-25 finishes this year, is staring down a return to the Nationwide Tour without a big finish this week. He was eighth on the Nationwide Tour money list last year, but he's made just 10 cuts on TOUR this year.