Perry improves Memorial lead

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 1, 2003

DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) -- The cold wind was whipping so hard when Kenny Perry got to the first tee that he figured even par would be enough for him to keep the lead in the Memorial.

As usual, he was better than that.

Perry shot a 2-under 70 on Saturday, which felt even better than the 61 he shot last week in the third round at The Colonial.

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His lead was two shots over Lee Janzen, but Perry felt just as confident as when he led by eight going into final round at Hogan's Alley.

''I can make good, solid pars and make them catch me,'' Perry said.

Several players have a chance, none of them named Tiger Woods.

Woods struggled with his swing and the gusts up to 30 mph made it look even worse. He hit a tee shot out of bounds for triple bogey and played the front nine in 42. He had to play the final four holes in 2 under to shoot 76.

It was his worst round ever at Memorial.

, where he is the only three-time winner, and at times it was reminiscent of his 81 in the third round of the British Open last year at Muirfield, with one exception.

''It's a hell of a lot warmer here,'' Woods said.

Maybe that's because Perry -- the hottest player in golf -- is on the course.

Coming off a victory at Colonial with a record score, Perry made only one bogey and ended another round with a birdie on the 18th. His 5-iron climbed up the ridge, then trickled down the slope to 8 feet.

''That's probably better than the 61 I shot last week,'' said Perry, who was at 13-under 203. ''The conditions were brutal. It was raw out there.''

Janzen, winless since his second U.S. Open title five years ago, holed two bunkers shots on the back nine -- for birdie on No. 15 and for par on the No. 17 -- and had a 71 that left him at 11-under 202.

''I just wanted to hang in there,'' Janzen said. ''Regardless of what I shot, I just wanted to enjoy the day -- kind of silly to enjoy a day like today -- but enjoy that I play golf and I was near the lead.''

No one had a more enjoyable day than Jose Maria Olazabal. His bogey-free 66 was more than nine strokes better than the average score Saturday. That shot him up from a tie for 30th into a tie for third, along with Vijay Singh and Retief Goosen at 8-under 208.

Singh had a 72, while Goosen had three bogeys on the back nine for a 74.

Olazabal was the only player to break 70, and only 11 players broke par.

About two hours before the leaders teed off, the third round was halted for 46 minutes as a storm system passed. Left behind was the nastiest weather of the year on the PGA Tour, with temperatures in the low 50s and gusts that spell trouble along the tree-lined fairways of Muirfield Village.

''It's hard to judge where the wind is coming from,'' Woods said. ''The thing that's hard is to get committed over a shot.''

That was evident on the first fairway. Woods held his pose and followed the flight of the ball until it landed 25 yards short of the green. He looked at the treetops in frustration, trying to figure out the swirling wind, then tossed his club at the bag.

It would get a lot worse, especially on No. 6 when Woods pulled his tee shot through the trees, into a backyard and out of bounds by about 2 feet. He walked all the way up to his ball before being told it was not in play, then had to return to the tee.

He wound up with a triple bogey and made the turn in 42.

Woods couldn't turn anywhere for sympathy. Eleven players shot 80 or worse, the highest number on the weekend ever at the Memorial.

John Daly drove the 343-yard 14th hole for the third straight day, and this time got a birdie. He also had two triple bogeys and a quadruple bogey for an 83.

''It's a survival course more than anything out there,'' Ernie Els said after his 70. ''It's pretty punishing. It's the hardest day we've had on the tour to date.''

That's what made Olazabal's round so brilliant.

The field average was 75.5, the highest for a weekend round since 1981 at Muirfield Village, and Olazabal made it look like he was at the Bob Hope Classic.

''It's as good a round as I've seen in a long time,'' said Jeff Sluman, his playing partner. ''I'm not unhappy with my 72, but after looking at Ollie's round, it felt like a million.''

Ohio tends to bring out the best in Olazabal. He shot a 61 up the road at Firestone in 1990 when he won the World Series of Golf, and took just as much pleasure out of this 66.

''Here, it's a different story,'' Olazabal said. ''To shoot 66, I think it's really close to that 61.''

It got him a lot closer to the lead, but still needing five shots to catch the guy on top.

Perry has been practically flawless the last two weeks, no matter the tournament, the course or the condition he faces.

''My goal today was to make 18 pars,'' Perry said. ''I parred the first nine and said, 'Man, I might do this.'''

Instead, he birdied the 12th and 14th holes, and only came back to the field with a three-putt bogey on the 16th -- his first in 50 holes at the Memorial -- and because Janzen wouldn't let him get away.