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