Triplett leads by one

Perry keeps pace with leader un­til a bo­gey on the fi­nal hole

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Jimmy Golen

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.

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