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Perry seeks third win of season
MILWAUKEE -- Kenny Perry never expected to be in the lead after three rounds at the Greater Milwaukee Open, especially not at only 8 under par.
The 6,759-yard Brown Deer Park course, one of the shortest on the PGA Tour, usually produces scores much lower than that after 54 holes.
But rain, winds and a change of a par-5 hole to par-4 have made things tougher this year.
The fairways on the par-70 layout were soft, the pin placement was difficult and the notoriously thick rough is putting the U.S. Open to shame.
"I think it's just a combination of everything," Perry said. "It's all showing. The scores are not very good."
Perry, who finished in the top five each of the last three years at the GMO, grabbed the lead at 202 with a 4-under 66 Saturday.
Brenden Pappas, who carded a 63, was among a half-dozen golfers one stroke behind. Jay Don Blake (71), the 36-hole leader, also was at 203, along with Jerry Kelly (70), Heath Slocum (68), Steve Allan (68) and Patrick Sheehan (70).
Shigeki Maruyama (69), who won here two years ago, is two strokes back at 204, and six players are three shots off the pace.
The rain and wind that hampered play the first two days lightened up Saturday, and sun and light breezes seemed the perfect prescription for lower scores.
Perry was having a mediocre round -- even-par through 10 holes -- before collecting four birdies to jump into the lead.
"I couldn't seem to get much going, but I just told myself to be patient, keep hanging in there," Perry said. "My goal was to stay within two shots of the lead to have a shot Sunday.
"And the next thing you know, I made four birdies on the back nine, birdied three in a row on 15, 16 and 17," Perry said. "I look up and I got the lead of the tournament. It's kind of crazy."
Twenty-eight players are within five shots of the lead.
"It's going to take a 4 or 5 under for me tomorrow to win this thing because I think that with everybody bunched around like this, somebody's going to shoot a good round," Perry said.
Kelly said he bets that will be Perry, who won the Colonial and Memorial tournaments this year and has won four times in the 10 tournaments he's held a 54-hole lead.
Tom Watson stumbled at the end of the third round of the Senior Players Championship, while Craig Stadler and Mike McCullough scrambled.
The result: a three-way tie heading into the final round Sunday in the Champions Tour major.
Watson, coming off an 8-under 64 on Friday in blustery weather, made two birdies and scrambled for several pars Saturday before making his first bogey in 37 holes at No. 17.
With a par at 18, Watson shot a 1-under 71, leaving him at 11 under and knotted with Stadler and McCullough. Stadler shot a 65, the day's best round, and McCullough had a 68.
Watson sprinted to early leads in the past month in the U.S. Open and U.S. Senior Open before fading -- a trend he'd like to end Sunday.
"I'm playing with the guys I have to beat," Watson said. "That's how I like it because I can see how they're handling the pressure. I just hope it goes better than it did at the Senior Open when (winner) Bruce (Lietzke) handled it a lot better than I did."
Five players are four shots back at 7 under.
Ernie Els stretched his lead to five shots through three rounds with a 4-under-par 67 Saturday in the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond.
Els, tuning up to defend his British Open title next week, collected five birdies and just one bogey -- only his second of the tournament -- to get to 15-under 198.
Darren Clarke shot a 64 and was tied for second place with Phillip Price at 10 under. Peter O'Malley carded a 62, the week's best round, to jump from a tie for 44th into fourth at 8 under.
-- From wire reports