That could change very quickly.
Perez fired a 9-under-par 63 at the Bear Lakes Country Club to take the lead midway through the six-round slugfest. He stands at 18-under-par 198 in West Palm Beach, Fla., two shots removed from Tommy Armour III (67).
Things are going real well, Perez said. Everything seems to click - confidence is up.
Perez and Armour are polar opposites professionally. Armour turned professional in 1981; Perez in 1997. Armour is the grandson of the Silver Scot, who was the winner of the U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship; Perez claim to fame was winning the 1993 Junior World title at Torrey Pines, where Tiger Woods finished fourth, eight strokes back.
Armour has spent 12 of the past 13 seasons on the PGA Tour; Perez was a rookie on the 2000 Buy.Com Tour.
But this week, they both have the same goal ' earning their 2002 PGA Tour cards.
The same can be said for a quartet of players tied for third place. Ben Crane (67), Kevin Durkin (68), Shaun Micheel (69) and overnight leader Hidemichi Tanaka (70) are all at 14-under with three rounds remaining.
Perez, winner of the 2000 Buy.Com Ozarks Open, finished 32nd on the tours money list this past season. This is his second attempt at Q-School, having finished tied for 132nd in 1999.
Friday, the 25-year-old former Arizona State Sun Devil recorded five birdies and two eagles. He notched a pair of 3s on both the par-5 second and the par-5 17th. His eagle at the second came courtesy of a hole-out from the fairway.
Armours round was a bit more routine, complete with four birdies, one eagle and a bogey.
The 1990 Phoenix Open winner is making his fourth Q-School appearance, and his first since 1996. Armour struggled throughout 2001, making only 14 cuts in 32 starts, and failing to post a top-10. He ended the season 161st on the money list.
Gary Nicklaus, who also didn't earn a top 10 this year, shot 65 to climb into a tie for seventh place at 12-under.
I played real solid from the start, birdied the first three holes and never looked back, said Nicklaus, who is making his 10th appearance in the Qualifying Tournament.
You want to get far enough ahead going into the last couple of rounds that it makes the last round ' the last couple of rounds easier. Thats my plan this week.
Perezs brother, Mike, is in the field. He is at 4-over after rounds of 75-75-70. Meanwhile, 17-year-old Ty Tryon made four birdies and three bogeys for a 1-under 71. Tryon slipped from a tie for 33rd, as the day began, into a tie for 61st.
I played really well, just didnt put the ball in the hole, said Tryon. I had so many chances, just kind of didnt execute.
The top 35 players and ties upon Mondays conclusion will receive their 2002 PGA Tour playing privileges.
Full-field scores from the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament