NAPLES, Fla. – After the first round, Kenny Perry deadpanned that it was a typical day on the Champions Tour when he shot 8 under and wasn’t in the lead.
Saturday, it was time for the others to talk about him.
Perry shot a 10-under 62 and set the Champions Tour’s 36-hole scoring record at 18-under 126 in the second round of the ACE Group Classic.
“That’s amazing,” said Perry, three shots ahead of first-round leader Larry Mize. “So many great players have played this tour, and to be able to now say I’ve had the lowest 36 of all time is pretty neat. It’s a neat accomplishment. It’s just amazing I can make 20 birdies in 36 holes. That’s just phenomenal.”
“What he’s done the first two days is spectacular, but not surprising,” Lehman said. “Nothing anybody does out here surprises me, and especially from him.”
Perry made five birdies on the front nine on The TwinEagles Club’s Talon Course, and six more on the back. He bounced back from a bogey on No. 15, with birdies on the last three holes. Perry made a 25-footer for birdie on No. 1, and followed that up with a 35-footer on No. 2.
“That really loosened me up, relaxed me, kind of really freed my game up,” he said. “It was off and running.”
Mize followed his opening 62 with a 67.
“Kenny played a great round,” said Mize, who had a 62 on Friday. “Gee whiz, that’s pretty special.”
Mize and Lehman were tied for second most of the day, then Mize birdied the last two holes to move into sole possession of second.
“Otherwise, I’m five back, which is a lot bigger mountain to climb,” said Mize, who has one Champions Tour win. “But three back, the way Kenny’s playing, it’s going to be a lot bigger mountain to climb anyway.”
Lehman was 5 under for the day after eight holes, but parred nine of the last 10, with a tap-in birdie on the par-5 17th. He had a 66.
“From the ninth hole to about the 15th hole I had some really, really good chances, and just couldn’t cash in,” Lehman said. “So today was a bit disappointing.”
Langer made a late charge by eagling the par-5 17th for the second straight day. He ended up with a 65.
“It looks like we’re all playing for second place, but we still have 18 holes to go,” said Langer, the winner last year at The Quarry.
Perry broke the record of 17 under held by six players. Of those, only Don Pooley in the 2006 MasterCard Championship in Hawaii failed to win. Tom Kite (2001 Gold Rush), Jim Ahern (2003 Music City Invitational), Langer (2007 Administaff Small Business Classic), Russ Cochran (2011 Mitsubishi Electric Championship), and Fred Couples (2011 AT&T Championship) also were 17 under.
Langer set the tournament scoring record last year at 20 under, and had 23 birdies. Perry already has 20 birdies.
Perry won the Franklin Templeton Shootout, an unofficial PGA Tour event hosted by Greg Norman, twice in Naples, in 2005 with John Huston and 2008 with Scott Hoch. Both times, Perry credited Huston and Hoch with helping him read Bermuda grass greens. But this week, Perry said the greens look like bentgrass ones to him, without much grain.
“All of my wins have been on bentgrass on Tour,” Perry said. “I’ve not really had much luck on Bermuda. This week I think no grain, and the ball rolling as pure as it’s rolling, I feel like I’m on bentgrass.”