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April 19 2013

5:40 PM

Perez staying calm, and it's paying off

Perez enters the weekend two shots off the lead at Harbour Town. (Lecka/Getty Images)

By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- After a double bogey on the 16th hole Friday at Harbour Town, the old Pat Perez might have continued his slide and bogeyed his way in.

But this is the cooler, calmer Perez, who has been working this season with mental coach Chris Dorris in Phoenix.

The idea, Perez said, was to try to turn negatives into positives.

"It's hard, especially for me, because I've done it my whole life," Perez admitted. "But to say, 'That's not going to bring me down, let's try to make 5 instead of 6.' And the next hole it's basically done."

It worked Friday.

Perez parred each of his next two holes to shoot 71 and enters the weekend just two shots off the lead.

"I'm trying to stay level, which is always, for me, trying to stay on a high," Perez continued. "I've really worked hard on it this year. I don't have the ups and downs."

That was evident in more than just Friday's round, too.

After a double-bogey 7 on No. 5 in the opening round, Perez made par on the next hole. He then went on to make five birdies on the back nine to close in 31.

"I didn't really let it affect me," said Perez, who'd hit his second shot into the water on the 540-yard hole. "I just kind of laughed at it. I couldn't believe somebody could play a hole that bad and I did."

The rest of them, he played well.

Perez hit 11 of 14 fairways in each of the first two rounds and has just 52 total putts to go with 13 birdies so far.

Said Perez: "I didn't think I'd make a lot of birdies, but I seem to be hitting it closer than I ever have out here."

And staying calmer than ever when he hasn't.

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