Triplett leads by one
Perry keeps pace with leader until a bogey on the final hole
Kirk Triplett PEABODY, watched a TV documentary on the Celtics and Lakers before teeing off in the U.S. Senior Open on Saturday, then he and Kenny Perry tried to turn the tournament into a two-man show Larry Bird and Magic Johnson would be proud of.
Starting the day tied at a record 11under and playing together in the final group, Triplett and Perry turned a two-stroke edge into a five-shot advantage over their nearest competition. Triplett shot a 4-under-par 66 to improve to 15 under, and Perry was right with him until a bogey on No. 18 dropped him a stroke back.
“It felt like match play, the two of us have separated ourselves a little bit from the field and he kept putting pressure on,” Perry said. “He’s unreal. He doesn’t make many mistakes. I’m going to have to really play good tomorrow to get ahead of him.”
Denying that he was pandering to the Boston crowds, Triplett said he’s been a fan of Bird’s since the 1979 NCAA championship game. He also played golf with Hall of Famer Kevin McHale this spring and called it one of his most enjoyable rounds ever.
Then, Triplett arrived in Celtics territory ready to go with Perry.
The two matched each other birdie for birdie and were tied on the 18th, when Perry wound up in the rough above and to the left of the pin. He chipped it past the hole and down a ridge but was able to leave himself a tap-in for bogey.
“I think what we probably both wanted to accomplish today was to get some cushion on the field,” Triplett said. “Kenny hit a lot of good shots. He and I were just, I think, trying to keep pace with each other more so than the guys behind us.”
Brandt Jobe matched the tournament record with a 62 — the same score that Triplett had on Thursday — shooting 29 on the back nine to move into third. Fred Couples and Tom Lehman each shot 70 to head into the final round at Salem Country Club tied for fourth, at 7-under.
After two days of low scores — each round has set a low cumulative record — the wind picked up on Saturday afternoon and made the 6,815-yard, Donald Ross-designed course more of a challenge.
That is, for everyone except Perry and Triplett, who were the only two players in the last seven twosomes to come in under par.
Triplett holed out from a bunker for an eagle on the 525-yard sixth hole, but made his only bogey of the day on No. 7. Perry also gave up a shot on the seventh to remain tied for the lead until Triplett chipped in again on No. 9.
“I’ve always been what I consider a reasonable to very good chipper,” Triplett said.