It hasn’t exactly been a banner couple of years for Pat Perez since he got his first career win at the 2009 Bob Hope Classic. He had just three top-10s in all of 2010 and this year has missed nearly as many cuts (3) and he’s made (5).
Perez withdrew after the opening round of his last start at the Shell Houston Open and missed the cut in three of his previous four starts before that.
Then there was Saturday’s 5-under 67, which included an eagle on a par-4 and four birdies, including two straight to close out his round.
The eagle, by the way, came on the drivable 342-yard fifth hole, where Perez reached the green off the tee then made the putt from just over 25 feet.
The 67 by Perez is also his best score since back-to-back 67s in the second and third rounds at Phoenix. It’s also enough to move him into a tie for third at the moment.
Just how difficult did TPC San Antonio play in the second round? Here’s a rundown:
-- Just 13 players broke par and through two rounds only 16 players were under par for the tournament.
-- The scoring average in Round 2 was 75.283 -- more than three
strokes over par. The last time a round was
that high was the opening round of this year’s Honda Classic, where the average was 73.875 on the par-70 layout.
-- There were seven bogey-free rounds in the opening round compared to just one bogey-free round in Round 2.
-- There were 600 bogeys in Round 2 -- more than 150 more than there were in the opening round -- and there was at least one double bogey on each of the 18 holes at TPC San Antonio.
Most of that was due to the wind and tough pin positions. In Round 3, the wind is only in the 15-mph range and players are taking advantage of the much calmer conditions.
Martin Piller is already 3 under through nine holes -- and in a tie for the lead -- while Fredrik Jacobson and Kevin Streelman are 5 and 3 under, respectively. Pat Perez has also moved into contention at 3 under early in his round.
In other words, it looks like moving day won’t involve the lead moving backwards.
SCOTTSDALE -- He was wearing a bright orange jumpsuit, dark sunglasses and a gray and black cap. The full beard he'd so carefully cultivated was several inches long.
In actuality, Brian Wilson looked like the caricature of someone about to enter a witness protection program – not the spirited, or shall we say, free-spirited, San Francisco Giants closer. But Wilson was going incognito as he caddied for his buddy Pat Perez on Tuesday during a practice round at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
“He's got a good sense of humor," Perez said while waiting to hit his tee shot on the 12th tee at TPC Scottsdale. "It's been fun. We played golf about a month ago at my club. You never know what he's going to say."
This is the eighth time Wilson has attended the Waste Management Phoenix Open. "For the first seven, I was the heckler, the one who was yelling at everyone," the pitcher said. "Now I get to walk the course which is pretty fun."
Although they've played casual rounds together, Wilson was impressed with Perez' preparation for his second straight hometown event. Perez now lives in Scottsdale but he grew up playing and working at Torrey Pines in San Diego.
"Standard since I've seen him play," Wilson said, assessing Perez's game Tuesday. "Couple of birdies here and there. Pars. Straight off the tee, Every green in regulation. It's almost like, is this really happening? I don't get to see golf in this kind of perspective."
Being inside the ropes with Perez was a treat for Wilson, who would say only he was long off the tee when asked about his own golf game. "Whether it stays in bounds, that depends on the wind," he said -- maybe cracking a smile, but it was hard to tell with that beard.
"It's a game where you can't take one shot off because it could be the difference between making the money and walking home playing a free tournament."
After he relinquished Perez’s clubs Tuesday, Wilson was headed back to San Francisco for "Fan Fest," where the Giants faithful get to celebrate the team’s World Series win. He would like to get back on Sunday, but admitted the Super Bowl could change his plans.
“I hear it’s a big thing here in America,” he said wryly. “So I’m not sure what I’ll be doing Sunday.”
Tuesday, though, gave him a different perspective on his friend and the game.
"It's just fun walking around with a pro,” Wilson said. “And then you start thinking about what kind of golf game you have and then you get embarrassed you even play golf because he's just far superior to that.” -– Helen Ross
LA JOLLA, Calif. -- Don't look now but another one of San Diego's favorite sons has made his way onto the leaderboard at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Pat Perez, who beat Tiger Woods by four at the 1993 Junior Worlds here at Torrey Pines, has just birdied the sixth hole, his second of the day, and is 7 under for the tournament.
Perez's father, Tony, is a long-time tournament volunteer who announces the players at the first tee. His son teed off at 11:40 a.m. ET, and after Tony introduced him, he turned his palms upwards and playfully encouraged the applause.
Before Pat exited the tee box, the 34-year-old took his sweatshirt off and handed it to Tony for safekeeping. Once a son, always a son.
Perez, who worked at Torrey Pines from the time he was 13 until he left for college at Arizona State, has played in the Farmers Insurance Open every year since 2002 – a year after the course he grew up playing was redesigned. He has one top-10, a tie for sixth in 2005.
Perez said he used to be the "go-fer" at Torrey Pines. He cleaned carts, picked up balls outside the range, prepared baskets of practice balls -- basically anything that was needed. With his considerable playing skills, he also was a popular addition to any foursome.
"They always wanted me on their team," Perez said in an interview prior to the 2008 U.S. Open. "A young kid, thinks they can't play. We did a lot of money games out here. It got heated at times and it was fun. I had five dollars in my pocket, but I'd always leave with money. It was a great learning experience for me."
Even though Perez did odd jobs around the course, though, he still had to jockey for position like everyone else when he came to play at the popular municipal facility. And just like at New York's famed Bethpage Black, that meant some very early wake-up calls.
"We had some help in the starter's booth, but we still had to get a number," Perez recalled. "We'd get here about 1, 2 in the morning and you've got to get a number from the guy. So if you were early you had to wait until someone else showed up and then you got your number and then you could go to sleep and set your alarm for 5:30. And then everyone would go in the coffee shop, get a drink or get something to drink. And then everyone would form a line across the top balcony up there. And it was one after another went off, and tee off at 6:30 and that was the kind of day. And then I'd go to work after that.
"I loved it. As a kid, you're getting out of the house, you got more freedom. I loved it. I wouldn't do it now, but it was fun at the time."
So is the way he’s playing this week. – Helen Ross
Pat Perez’s first PGA TOUR victory came at the last year’s 50th Bob Hope Classic – a five-round event where players have to go low to have a chance to win. He opened with a 61 there last year and ended up shooting 33 under en route to victory.
So The Greenbrier Classic – and the exceedingly generous Old White Course -- would seem to be right down Perez’s alley. And for the most part, it has been.
Perez was one shot off the lead after a first-round 64 and he’s climbing the leaderboard again now, playing his first 16 holes on Sunday in 5 under. He’s 13 under for the tournament, and five strokes behind Jeff Overton, who just teed off. But it could be a case of too little, too late. – Helen Ross
Erik Compton might have the lead after a pretty remarkable 63, especially given the fact he’s survived two heart transplants, but he also has plenty of company. Right now, there are 16 players within three shots of that lead.
One of those players is Pat Perez, who is a stroke back after a seven-birdie, one-bogey effort that included a 31 on the back nine.
Perez going low here shouldn’t be a huge surprise, though. His lone PGA TOUR victory came at another tournament -- the Bob Hope Classic -- where birdies are plentiful (and required).
“This is going to be the kind of course where you have to really get -- I mean, it's going to be 20-under par that wins this tournament, so you have to get into that mindset,” Perez said. “It's not like, ‘Okay, I'm 6 now. If I can stay there for four days it'll be great, like an Open.’ It's not that at all. Tomorrow I need to come out and shoot another 6 if I can.”
Perez hasn’t done a lot of that lately and is coming off a missed cut in Canada, though he did shoot a third-round 63 at Colonial. Still, he needs a good performance just to get into the PGA Championship in two weeks.
“This could give me a lot of confidence for the next three months coming up,” Perez said. “I can't believe I'm that far out of the list because I haven't missed one yet. I'm playing worse than I thought. I need a good week to get into that. I would love to go to Whistling Straits and play.”
So far, he’s off to a good start. -- Brian Wacker
Looks like The Live Report jinxed Jeff Overton. As soon as we published the note about him taking the lead – with a bogey-free round, to boot – guess what happened.
Overton missed a 10-footer to save par at the 18th hole. So now he’s back in a logjam at the top of the leaderboard with Pat Perez, George McNeill and Erik Compton. Compton, though, could break the tie – he has two holes remaining. – Helen Ross
George McNeill has some company at the top of the leaderboard now. Pat Perez has just matched the Floridian’s 64 after making seven birdies and one bogey.
Looks like there will be some more candidates, too. Jeff Overton is 6 under through 16 holes while Erik Compton, a double heart-transplant recipient, is at the same number through 14.
Pat Perez had one goal on Saturday. He wanted to get into double digits so he could have a chance in the final round.
So that’s exactly what Perez did. He fired a bogey-free 63 that moved him to 10 under and included a 30 on the back nine.
“I struggled a little on the front, but the back … I don’t know,” Perez said. “Usually there are a couple of holes on that back that I’m not comfortable with but I was hitting the driver really good. I’ve got some confidence going with it.
“I’m going to go for broke tomorrow. That’s been my mentality since I won (at the 2009 Bob Hope Classic). If I’m not winning, I need to work on something else.”
His 63 came in the group immediately behind Jerry Kelly, who also shot 7 under. And like Kelly, Perez expects to have a lot of ground to make up on Sunday.
“I think the leader gets somewhere 16, 17,” Perez said. “My goal was to try to get to 10, and if I get there earlier, I just keep moving up the board. It’s going to be real close to 20, if not more, if the course is like this tomorrow. So I’ve got a long way to go.”
The leaders are still an hour from teeing off but the tone for the day has been set. Go low or get left behind.
Jerry Kelly just finished off a round of 63 while Pat Perez, waiting in the fairway to hit his approach at the 18th hole is also 7 under for the day. They’ve moved to 10 under and three strokes off the overnight lead.
Rickie Fowler finished off a round of 64 five groups ahead of them. The young phenom, who played in pink and white checked pants in honor of Pink Out II is 9 under for the tournament now.
Paul Casey and Lee Janzen are working on low numbers, too. Casey if 5 under through 11 holes while Janzen just made the turn in 30.
Should be a fun afternoon.