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Perry closes in on leader Couples at Senior Players Championship

| Saturday, June 29, 2013, 11:26 a.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Kenny Perry hits off the 15th fairway during the third round of the Constellation Senior Players Championship, Saturday, June 29, 2013, at Fox Chapel Golf Club.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Fred Couples hits more than his ball on the 15th fairway during the third round of the Constellation Senior Players Championship, Saturday, June 29, 2013, at Fox Chapel Golf Club.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Fred Couples tees off on the ninth hole during the third round of the Constellation Senior Players Championship on Saturday, June 29, 2013, at Fox Chapel Golf Club.

Kenny Perry's phone rang seemingly nonstop Friday night, and he quickly found out how often he was appearing on TV while sitting two rows behind home plate at PNC Park.

“Everyone kept calling and saying, ‘I see you at the game,' ” Perry said.

He probably received just as many calls Saturday night after he showed up somewhere else visible: near the top of the leaderboard at the Constellation Senior Players Championship at Fox Chapel Golf Club.

Perry finished his second round with a flourish Saturday morning and continued his blitz in the afternoon. By the end of a long day, he had set a tournament record by shooting back-to-back 63s and emerged as the biggest challenger to Fred Couples entering the final round of the Champions Tour's third major of the season.

Couples is at 15-under-par, but he holds just a two-shot lead over Perry even though it looked as though he might run away from the field after the first two days.

Couples actually lost the lead to Perry on the back nine of his third round but regained it by making birdies on three of his final five holes.

Couples and Perry will play in the final group with Duffy Waldorf, who is at 11-under and alone in third place.

“If he shoots a crazy round of golf, I can't catch him, so kind of the ball's in his court,” Perry said of Couples, “and I'm going to have to shoot a phenomenal round again, which three good low rounds is tough to do.”

Mike Goodes and first-round leader John Huston are at 10-under and within striking distance. Greensburg native Rocco Mediate shot 68 in the third round and is tied for 16th at 3-under.

Rain delayed or suspended play Thursday and Friday, but it wasn't an issue Saturday. The forecast is calling for rain Sunday, and tournament officials have moved up the starting time.

Golfers will be sent off Nos. 1 and 10 tees starting at 7:30 a.m.

“I know there's some weather coming in,” Perry said, “so it's just amazing that we've gotten this far. It's just a shame we've had all that rain. That's why the scores are so good. People are throwing darts out there.”

Indeed, Bernhard Langer shot 63 in the third round to move into a tie for 11th place, and he said it could have been a 60.

Couples broke the course record in the morning when he finished his second round with a birdie to give him a 62.

But it was Perry who got hot, as he completed his second round with three birdies and an eagle in six holes. His torrid play probably could be attributed to a change of putters more than the mojo he caught from watching the Pirates.

Perry, who struggled on the greens Thursday, switched to a more lofted putter. He said that made it easier to negotiate greens that are still wet, and he rolled in a number of putts Saturday while posting matching 63s.

“He is extremely long,” Couples said. “I think par is in the 60s for him. He is a great player and truly fun to play with.”

Perry will try to redeem himself for squandering a final-round lead in the Senior PGA Championship in May. Couples, meanwhile, is trying to win for the first time on the Champions Tour this season after contending in a handful of events.

“If I go out and play well, I have a great shot of winning,” said Couples, who is vying for his second Senior Players title in three years. “I'm certainly not going to be thinking about second place when I play. I'm well past that.”

Scott Brown is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at sbrown@tribweb.com or via Twitter @ ScottBrown_Trib.

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