LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Friday night on the PGA TOUR Network’s wrap-up show on Sirius XM, John Maginnes came up with something of a double entendre.
“It’s always fun to see the old men chasing the kids around Disney,” the former TOUR pro said.
Maginnes wasn’t talking dads at the theme park, though. He was referring to the presence of 52-year-old Michael Allen on the leaderboard at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic.
Well, Allen has slipped from a tie for fifth to joint 12th but another Champions Tour veteran has taken his place. Tom Pernice Jr. is 5 under through 12 holes and stands in solo third – one stroke behind the co-leaders Justin Leonard and Henrik Stenson.
Pernice, who won the 2009 SAS Championship on the Champions Tour, is 52 years young, as well. He has six top-10s in 15 Champions Tour starts this season and he tied for second at the Viking Classic earlier this year on the PGA TOUR.
Pernice is bidding to become the seventh player – and the second oldest -- to win on the PGA TOUR after celebrating his 50th birthday.
IN POSITION: Two players in the field this week at the RBC Canadian Open have an opportunity to move atop the FedExCup standings with a victory. Luke Donald (currently 6th) and Matt Kuchar (No. 8) are both within striking distance of FedExCup leader Nick Watney.
NEEDING A MOVE: Of the 31 players ranked between 110th and 140th in the FedExCup standings, 20 will be playing this week at Shaughnessy. Spots in the top 125 will be there for the taking with four players ranked between 121st and 125th not playing this week. Stephen Ames, playing in his homeland, 2010 regular season points leader Ernie Els and 126th-ranked Steven Bowditch are among those within 75 points of the top 125 with a chance to move up this week. More on the Playoffs bubble
CROSSING THE LINE: There was just one change to the top 125 last week. George McNeill, who tied for 2nd at the Viking Classic, moved from 132nd to 92nd. Falling back was Zack Miller, who dropped from 124th to 127th.
WHO’S UP, WHO’S DOWN? McNeill’s 40 position leap was the second biggest of the week but 10 spots shy of the 50-position move from Tom Pernice Jr., who went from 212th to 50th after a T2 at Annandale. Anthony Kim moved inside the top 100, to 85th, after a top 10 at the British Open. Camilo Villegas, down seven spots to 114th, is among the players who fell furthest last week. More movers
NEW ARRIVALS: Nine players earned their first FedExCup points of 2011 last week during the dual tournaments at Royal St. George’s and Annandale. Tom Watson posted a T22 finish at the British Open and debuts at 214th in the FedExCup standings while Peter Lonard tied for 9th at the Viking Classic to reach 221st.
A YEAR OF CHANGE: If the season were to end today, two of the 30 players in last year’s TOUR Championship (Paul Casey and Ernie Els) would miss out on the Playoffs altogether. Interestingly, Els and Casey will be playing in the same group during Rounds 1 and 2 this week. A total of 34 of the top 125 in the FedExCup standings were not in the Playoffs a year ago, highlighted by former leader and current No. 7 Mark Wilson, who has won twice in 2011.
MORE ON LAST WEEK’S WINNER: Chris Kirk became the fifth rookie to win on TOUR in 2011 with his victory at the Viking Classic. Kirk, who was the No. 2 graduate on the Nationwide Tour last year, is currently second in the Rookie Rankings behind Masters champion Charl Schwartzel. Kirk has four top 10s on the year including his win and a tie for second behind Phil Mickelson at the Shell Houston Open.
Chris Kirk's Viking Classic win makes him the fifth rookie to win on the PGA TOUR this year, joining the group of Jhonnatan Vegas, Charl Schwartzel, Brendan Steele and Keegan Bradley.
Kirk's final-round 66 at Annandale included two late birdies on No. 15 and 17 that helped him move a shot past Tom Pernice Jr. and George McNeill, who finished at 21 under.
Kirk earned his TOUR card by finishing second on the Nationwide Tour money list last year. He had the lead entering Round 4, but did not pull away from the field until the final hole. Pernice and McNeill shot 67 and 68 respectively, and held the lead or a share of the lead for a majority of the back nine.
Kirk approached Annandale's finishing par-5 with a one shot lead and played it in winner's fashion -- fairway, layup, green and two putts.
It was a stellar performance that many could see coming from the former University of Georgia standout. Kirk finished second to Phil Mickelson at the Shell Houston Open in April. He also fired a third-round 63 at the AT&T National two weeks ago that eventually led to a tie for eighth.
Kirk earned 250 FedExCup points with the win, and is now No. 25 in the FedExCup Standings.
PGA TOUR rookie Sunghoon Kang has played his first 14 holes 8-under par in Round 3 at the Viking Classic . Kang played Annandale's front nine in 31. He then eagled the 579-yard par-5 11th hole, and added a birdie on the 14th hole to take the lead.
D.J. Trahan, 16 under, and Tommy Gainey and Tom Pernice Jr., 15 under, are also making Saturday moves. Trahan and Gainey are 5 under on their rounds, while Pernice is 4 under.
The Valero Texas Open has joined in the effort to raise money for the St. Jude Children's Hospital this week.
Brendan Steele, who picked up his first PGA TOUR victory in San Antonio in April, has pledged $100 to the hospital for every birdie he makes this week at the FedEx St. Jude Classic. The Valero Texas Open will match its defending champion's donation.
This week’s birdies project was launched by Brian Gay, who won the FedEx St. Jude Classic in 2009. Several of his fellow Gaylord Sports Management clients -- Steele, Bryce Molder and Tom Pernice Jr. -- have also pledged $100 per birdie.
In addition, Phil Mickelson isn't playing in the FedEx St, Jude Classic but he is donating $100 for each of Gay's birdies. Gaylord is matching all of its clients' donations, as well.
Some guys are playing to keep their PGA TOUR card. Tom Pernice Jr. is playing to determine what Tour he’ll play on in 2011.
If the 51-year-old finishes in the top 125 on the money list – he’s currently 137th – he’ll spend most of his time on the TOUR. If not, it’s likely he’ll play more events on the over-50 circuit.
“Playing out of the 126 to 150 category you really don't know your schedule out here very much,” said Pernice, who opened with a 68 Thursday on the Palm Course. “I still got a chance to have a good week here and see if I can get up there and get ahead of the top 125 and if that's the case I'd like to play as much as I can out here.
“I feel like my game's good enough, and this is still where I want to play.”
The last two starts have been evidence of that -- Pernice tied for 18th at the Frys.com Open and tied for 15th at the McGladrey Classic.
Michael Allen is in a similar position, though he may be leaning toward the Champions Tour. Allen is 124th on the money list, but he opened with a 74 on the Palm Course.
“You know, a lot of guys on the Champions Tour kind of wonder because it's a lot of fun out there,” said Allen, who is coming off a runner-up finish at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship. “And after the way I played today, I'm probably moving that way anyhow. It wasn't a very good day.”
Not having won in 360 starts, however, has kept Allen coming back.
“That’s the one thing I want to do,” Allen said. “I want to be able to finish my career and say I won, so I need more opportunities to do that. That's the main reason.” -- Brian Wacker
With more than $1 million in career earnings on the Champions Tour, Tom Pernice Jr. is exempt into every event on the over-50 circuit, including this week’s Senior Players Championship. But because he wants to continue to play on the PGA TOUR, the 51-year-old is here, trying to secure a spot in the top 125 on the money list.
Saturday’s performance will certainly help that cause. Pernice, who entered the week 142nd on the money list, recovered from a double-bogey start with nine birdies over his next 11 holes en route to a 65 that has him at 8 under for the week and currently in the top 10 on the leaderboard.
“I felt that my game is good enough that I could still compete,” said Pernice, who made a double bogey on the final hole at q-school last year to miss fully exempt status on the PGA TOUR by a single stroke. “My goal’s been to play out here and stay in the top 125 and if I can win a tournament, I win a tournament.
“As long as my game is good and as long as I can still compete, I want to stay out here and compete against the best.”
Pernice isn’t the only 50-something to have played well on TOUR this year. Corey Pavin nearly won in Hartford and Michael Allen was in contention at last week’s Viking Classic.
”If you’re playing well, you can play anywhere in the world,” Pernice said. “I’ve always said that little white ball doesn’t know how old you are.”
And make no mistake about it, Pernice is grinding to make the top 125 this year, though he did say he won’t go to q-school.
“It’s just like baseball; you want to make the playoffs,” Pernice said. “If you’ve had a bad year and you’re in the last three months of the season you need to finish in the top 125.” -- Brian Wacker
Tom Pernice Jr. was first off this morning and played by himself, zipping around the course in a 1-under-71.
"It was quite special,'' Pernice said. "I had my caddie to talk to. But to be able to go play a course you love in a one-ball . . . it's not something you get the opportunity to do very often.''
His assessment of the conditions? Pernice said the pins weren't as difficult as they were Friday. "The wind's basically the same direction . . . You've got to pay attention out there and you have to putt well.''
-- Melanie Hauser
The outcome of today's final round of the HP Byron Nelson Championship may very well be determined by which player best handles the windy conditions at TPC Four Seasons Resort.
In Saturday's third rounds, wind gusts up to 31 mph played havoc with those in the afternoon, and similar conditions are expected for the leaders today.
Jason Day, who goes into the final round with a two-stroke lead, certainly was pleased with his third-round 67. The 22-year-old hopes another solid round will lead to his first TOUR win.
Asked if he considered himself a good wind player, the Australian replied: "I've had some success. I've had some really bad ones, too, and I think it's just learning, you know, from those experiences. Taking certain clubs, when you know to take certain clubs and take your medicine at times and don't go with certain pins."
The tricky part for the players is figuring out the various crosswinds, knowing when to attack pins and when to be satisfied with par.
"You have to control the ball and work it back and hold it, whether it be a fade or draw at times," said Tom Pernice Jr. "Some holes you can't hit it to the pin, you hit it to the middle of the green and take your 30-footers and move on."
Added Jeff Overton, who starts his round in solo third place, just three shots off the lead: "I think it's going to come down to grinding it out. The place plays so hard because of the winds at different angles and so forth.
"It's going to take patience and go out there and make some putts and hit fairways. Fairways and greens out there are going to go a long, long way." -- Mike McAllister
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.
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.