Perez Scorches Desert with 60

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2006 Bob Hope Chrysler ClassicPALM DESERT, Calif. -- Pat Perez has never won on the PGA Tour.

But now he has this.
 
Perez fired a 12-under-par 60 on Wednesday -- just the 20th score of 60 or better in PGA Tour history -- to take the lead after one round of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.

Scores on the first day of this five-day event were low, as they always are. But Perez's assault on the Arnold Palmer Course at PGA West, one of four tracks playing host this week, was a memorable one nonetheless.

Only once did the 29-year-old former Nationwide Tour winner go more than one hole without a birdie. He finished with 12 of them, and now holds the 18-hole lead for the first time in his three-plus years on the PGA Tour.

Perez's score stands as an opening round record for the Bob Hope Classic, but it wasn't an anomaly: in 2003, he set the Bermuda Dunes course record with a 61 in the second round of this event.
 
David Duval owns the Palmer Course record, a final-round 59 when he won in 1999.
 
Perez reached 60 despite collecting pars on two of the course's five par-5s. Afterward, he acknowledged that he left shots on those holes.
 
'But other than that,' he added, 'it was a great day.'
 
The first player to tee off on the 10th hole at the Palmer course, Perez began his assault with consecutive birdies and eventually made the turn at minus-6 after carding four more birdies at 13, 15, 17 and 18.

Perez made it four in a row by opening the front nine with birdies at the first and second holes. After rolling in a 5-foot birdie putt at No. 4, Perez carded consecutive pars at the fifth and sixth holes -- his only stretch of more than one hole without a birdie.
 
But he quickly hopped back on the birdie train with three straight to end his round, all on par4s.
 
At the eighth, Perez knocked a sand wedge within 3 feet to set up his 11th birdie. At his final hole, he reached 60 by hitting a 9-iron within 12 feet and rolling in the putt.
 
'I didn't think in was going to be special,' Perez said of his round. 'I got kind of sick last night on food...I was up at 4:30 and tried to go back to sleep and only slept 20 minutes. I didn't know what to expect after that.'
 
Perez has led overnight three previous times on tour, including the second and third round leads at the 2002 AT&T Pebble Beach, where he claimed one of his two career second-place finishes.
 
The closest player looking up at Perez is Chad Campbell, who stands alone in second place after a 9-under 63 at Bermuda Dunes. Steve Elkington, playing at the La Quinta course, is third at 8-under 64.
 
John Huston, Olin Browne and Tom Pernice Jr. are one stroke further back in a tie for fourth place.
 
World No. 5 Phil Mickelson, the highest-ranked player in the field and playing in his first event of the season, is among a group tied for seventh place at minus-6.
 
Defending champion Justin Leonard is in good shape, too, after a 5-under 67 at Bermuda Dunes. He is tied with 10 other players for 11th place.
 
Of the 128 players in the field, 100 finished the first round at even-par or better. The highest score was turned in by Steven Bowditch, who played his first nine holes at plus-6 on the way to a 7-over 79.
 
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