Originally created 07/14/01

Perry takes three-stroke lead



MILWAUKEE -- Kenny Perry wants to know what it's like to run away with a tournament the way Loren Roberts did at last year's Greater Milwaukee Open.

He might just get that chance.

Perry tied for third at the 2000 GMO when Roberts dominated Brown Deer Park with record-breaking 24-under 260 total. On Friday, Perry shot an 8-under-par 63 for a 13-under 129 that gave him a three-stroke lead.

Chris Smith was second after his second straight 66 on a mildly breezy day at the 6,759-yard municipal course.

Perry, of Franklin, Ky., hasn't won on the PGA Tour since the 1995 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. He shared the first-round lead at the GMO last year before finishing nine strokes behind Roberts.

"Loren ran away with the field," Perry said. "I'd like to do like Loren did, I'd like to shoot another low round tomorrow and have a nice cushion for Sunday."

Brent Geiberger (68), Craig Spence (65) and Shigeki Maruyama (65) were all four strokes back. First-round leader Jay Haas followed his 64 with a 71 and was tied for 11th, six shots back.

Perry was the only player to go bogey-free for the first 36 holes, and his three-stroke lead tied the GMO mark for biggest after the second round. Still, he realizes chances are slim that he can copy Roberts' runaway of a year ago.

Not only will the greens firm up over the weekend, but never before has the 40-year-old golfer dominated a PGA Tour event.

His three career victories - he also won the 1991 Memorial Tournament and the New England Classic in '94 - have come either via a playoff or last-hole heroics.

Perry wouldn't mind that kind of victory, either.

"I don't care how, I just want to win," he said. "It's been a long time."

Roberts was in danger of missing the cut, much less defending his title, after a miserable round on Thursday. But he followed his 74 with a 67 thanks to birdies on the final two holes that left him at 1 under.

"I played better today. I didn't make as many mistakes," said Roberts, who has struggled all season. "I feel like I'm finally turning the corner. I've been playing so bad sometimes I'm almost embarrassed at the shots I hit."

Eighty-eight golfers made the cut at 1 under - the most at a PGA Tour event this year - including Fuzzy Zoeller for the first time in 10 tournaments.

Zoeller, who's at 2 under, turns 50 in November and said he's just waiting to join the Senior PGA Tour in 2002.

"That's the reason I'm still playing," he said. "I can't wait to get over to the cart golf and see what it feels like."

Skip Kendall, playing on his home course to fulfill his father's dying wish, shot a 67 and also made the cut at 2 under. Ralph Kendall, 77, died Wednesday from complications of a stroke.

"You know, he didn't want me playing in this tournament missing the cut," Kendall said. "I want to play the weekend and I want to play well."

Kendall's mother, Shirley, flew in from Arizona and watched her son play in the GMO for the first time in 10 years.

"I'm happy my mom was here. That just kind of eased a lot of the pain and just relaxed me a little bit," Kendall said.

Steve Stricker is among five golfers five shots back after shooting a 66 thanks to an eagle and five birdies over the final 10 holes after he bogeyed the par-5 15th.

"When you make a bogey on a par-5 when you're thinking about making a birdie? I was concentrating on making the cut let alone getting in contention for the tournament," Stricker said.

NCAA champion Nick Gilliam shot a 78 a missed the cut at 6 over.

Divots: Stricker's 6-under 29 on the back nine was the low nine-hole score this week and matched the lowest nine-hole total on tour this year. ... Perry qualified for the British Open last week but has decided not to go. Instead, he'll watch his 16-year-old son Justin play in a junior tournament in Kentucky. ... Brian Claar, who set a GMO record with six consecutive birdies to close his round Thursday, shot his second straight 68 and is seven shots back. ... Haas tied Andy North's tournament record of 84 rounds.