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February 18 2012

3:00 AM

Perez overcomes ‘weird’ feeling

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- Pat Perez wasn't exactly having an out-of-body experience Friday at Riviera.

Perez didn't feel particularly well, though -- at least not until he got down to business and two-putted from 56 feet at the first hole. That birdie was the first of five Perez made at Riviera on the way to a 65 that left him one shot behind Phil Mickelson after two rounds of the Northern Trust Open.

Even after he signed his scorecard, though, Perez said he wasn't exactly sure how he managed to go so low.

"I woke up this morning, didn't really feel that good, and I told my caddie on the range, I can't really feel my body,” Perez said. “My body feels weird, I don't know what's going on. I don't know if it was breakfast or what, but I don't feel that great.  We'll see what happens.
   
"I birdied (No.) 1 and hit some pretty good shots. Didn't hit it great, I just putted pretty well. That was about it."

The 65, which matched Jarrod Lyle for the low of the tournament so far, landed Perez in Saturday's final group. The last time he played with Mickelson was at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship, and "I lost," Perez was quick to point out before adding one caveat.

"I'm not playing him," he said. "Obviously he's playing well, and I'm going to have to play awful well to beat him this weekend. I'm not worried about him. It'll be fun to play with him, but you know, I know that I have to play well out there to beat everybody else, as well."

Perez only hit five fairways on Friday but still managed to find 12 greens in regulation. He was opportunistic when he got there, too, using just 25 putts to rank first in distance of putts made and fourth in strokes gained putting.

"I didn't hit it like you'd think I would," Perez conceded. "I didn't drive it all that great. I just scrambled well. I put myself in the right places to make par or birdie."

Perez has made the cut in his first five starts, three times finishing in the top 25, and he ranks 29th in the FedExCup. He credits his consistent play to the switch to the belly putter he made last October at the suggestion of his good friend, Tommy Armour III.

"(He) was all over me for a year to change, and I didn't want to try it," Perez said. "I've tried some before, but I didn't really like it. I didn't get the right one. We went down to Cabo, and he was down there with it, and he was all over me on it. You know, it was just incredible how the ball rolled and how  I was just making everything. I said, well, I'll try it.

"... It was really nothing that stopped me from doing it, but once I got comfortable with it, it was great."

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