Not that he was carefree, it was just that vast majority of the fans in Orlando, Fla., were following Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia.
Sunday will be a totally different experience. Perry wont be playing alongside Paul Goydos. Rather, hell be in the final threesome with both of the tournaments top-draws.
Tiger shot a third-round 6-under-par 66 to take the 54-hole lead at 12-under-par, while Sergio carded a 4-under 68 to get within one of his American counterpart. Perry shot 69 to move to 10-under ' not that anyone was really paying attention.
Perry birdied holes 14 through 16 to creep up the leaderboard and into contention. He hopes to do the same on Sunday.
Hopefully, I can just kind of sneak up on them tomorrow and shoot a good round, said Perry, who is sporting a hat signed by tournament host Arnold Palmer, with whom he was paired over the first two rounds.
The Woods-Garcia match-up is much anticipated. Hopefully for all involved, Mother Nature will cooperate. Thunderstorms are expected to strike the Central Florida area. In lieu of the rain, PGA Tour officials decided to move the first tee times to 8:00am ET. They also instituted threesomes and split tees. The final group is expected to tee off at 9:48am.
This isnt the first time the 25-year-old Woods and the 21-year-old Garcia have dueled for a title. Garcia first made an international name for himself by nearly foiling Tigers 1999 PGA Championship victory at Medinah.
The two also went head-to-head in the made-for-television Battle of Bighorn; where Garcia defeated Woods 1-up. The Spaniard also teamed with Jesper Parnevik to defeat Woods and Tom Lehman in foursomes play at the 99 Ryder Cup.
However, this will be the first time that the two will spar in the final group in the final round of a PGA Tour event.
Woods entered the third round trailing overnight leader Goydos by two shots. The 1996 Bay Hill champion is now in a tie for 11th after a Day-Three 1-over-par 73.
Tiger started his day with a trio of lip-outs over his first four holes. Still, he managed to record two birdies over that span by sticking his approach shot to the par-4 3rd to eight feet, and then two-putting from 25 feet on the par-5 4th.
Woods added three more birdies to his card on Nos. 6-8, dropping in a couple of 15-footers along the way. Thursday, Woods triple bogeyed the par-4 8th.
Tiger moved to 12-under with a 30-foot birdie putt on the 11th. He remained on that number over his next four holes, before an errant tee shot on the par-5 16th led to his lone bogey of the day.
Woods then responded by birdying the par-3 17th.
I really played solid, I thought today, said Woods, who missed only three greens in the benign conditions. I just kept plugging away.
Garcias day began with a 25-foot birdie putt at the first, but he dropped that shot with a bogey on the second. He again traded a birdie at the fourth with a bogey at the fifth, before birdying the par-5 6th ' which he doubled in the first round ' to make the turn in 2-under-par 34.
After six straight pars to start the back nine, Garcia moved into double digits by sticking an 8-iron from 174 yards to eight feet on the par-5 16th. He missed the eagle putt but tapped in for birdie to go to 10-under.
Garcia salvaged an opportunity to play with Tiger on Sunday by sinking a 15-foot par save at the 17th; and then secured his spot by placing a 9-iron to five feet on the 18th and converting the birdie putt.
More than going head-to-head with Tiger, Im really happy to have a chance of winning the tournament, said Garcia, who has won twice on the European Tour. If Im able to win the tournament, Im able to beat Tiger. So it all comes together.
Garcia is in search of his first stateside victory; and his first official win anywhere since 1999.
On the other hand, Tiger is stalking his 25th PGA Tour title, but his first since the 2000 Bell Canadian Open ' a span of eight starts. Without a victory this season, the words drought and slump have abounded when describing Woods performaces.
One thing Ive come to realize since Ive been on Tour is the media does a wonderful job of exaggerating when Im playing well and exaggerating when Im playing not so well, said Woods.
But if you really do understand the game of golf, you would understand that Im not really playing that bad.
Woods is a remarkable 23 for 27 when it comes to converting 54-hole leads. However, one of his defeats came in his last start. Tiger took a one-shot lead into the final round of the Dubai Desert Classic two weeks ago, but double bogeyed the 72nd hole to lose to Thomas Bjorn.
Not to be overlooked is Perry. The 39-year-old Ohio State Buckeye has only won once on Tour ' the 1998 B.C. Open ' but hes recorded 22 top-10s over the past three seasons.
Ive been out here a long time. It will be a good experience for me to play with these guys, Perry said.
In January, Garcia played in the final group with Woods in Tigers unofficial Williams World Challenge. Davis Love III came from behind to win the event, and the memory still lingers in Garcias mind.
I was so focused on trying to be ahead of (Woods) that I forgot about Davis Love, and then he came back and he shot 64 and won.
Three past major winners are also within striking distance. Reigning Master champion Vijay Singh is in fourth place at 9-under after a 66. Two-time British Open winner Greg Norman (68) and two-time U.S. Open winner Lee Janzen (69) are in a group tied at 8-under. That group also includes Phil Mickelson, who experienced another roller-coaster round.
Friday, the lefty carded one eagle, five birdies and seven bogeys en route to an even-par 72. Saturday, Mickelson hit his tee shot at the first out of bounds and made a double-bogey 6. He went on to notch one more double to go along with one eagle, five birdies and one bogey for a 70.
News, Notes and Numbers
*Scott McCarron was one off the lead at 11-under entering the 18th hole. He then hit his approach shot into the water. After taking a penalty drop, McCarron hit his fourth shot into the greenside bunker. With a fried-egg lie, McCarron had to play his fifth shot away from the hole. He eventually carded a triple-bogey 7 and finished at 8-under-par with a 71.
*Grant Waite, who lost to Tiger Woods in the 2000 Bell Canadian Open, started the day one off the lead, but recorded two double bogeys and two bogeys to offset six birdies. His 72 has him at 7-under.
Click here for full-field scores from the Bay Hill Invitational