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Published: Sunday, 6/6/2004

Memorial notebook: Perry shoots a 66, back in contention


DUBLIN, Ohio - Kenny Perry, the defending Memorial champion, jumped back into contention yesterday with a third-round 66 at Muirfield Village that left him six shots behind leader Ernie Els.

His 6-under-par score was fashioned around 11 one-putt greens and a total of just 24 putts.

“That s really something,” he said, “because that s not my normal cup of tea.

Perry gave the credit to his 18-year-old son, Justin, a recent high school graduate who is serving as his father s caddie for the second time this year. Perry tied for third at the Players Championship in Justin s other appearance.

“He s really good at reading putts,” Perry said of his son, a talented amateur golfer who will be attending David Lipscomb College in the fall on a golf scholarship. “He s quiet and laid back and doesn t get real excited. He s a real calming influence for me.”

Perry said he was ecstatic with his round, especially after finishing bogey-double bogey Friday.

“That was just lousy, so the idea today was to put up a number and see if I could get back into it,” he said. “If the leaders don t run away and hide, I ll have a chance.”

RAE S REPLAY: Fred Couples approach shot to the 14th hole spun back off the green and headed down the embankment towards a creek. But it stopped, as did his tee shot to the par-3 12th, fronted by Rae s Creek, at Augusta National in 1992 when he won the Masters.

“Well, it looked the same, I guess, but I kind of felt like you can go short on that hole,” Couples said. “When I looked at it in the practice round, I assumed [a ball] would not go in the water because there is quite a bit of grass there.”

BLOODIED: British Open champion Ben Curtis, the hometown favorite who shared the lead after each of the first two rounds, settled for a third-round 73 and is six shots behind Els.

Curtis nicked a mole while shaving yesterday morning and the bleeding didn t stop until the sixth hole. Golf-wise, after a double bogey at No. 3, the bleeding didn t stop until birdies at the 12th and 14th holes.

“I thought I held it together and finished strong, so that s a plus,” Curtis said. “But when you look at the leaderboard, it shows how this place brings out the best.”

WHAT MOUNTAIN? Maybe something was lost in the translation, but here s what K.J. Choi had to say when it was pointed out that two of his Korean countrywomen, Mi-Hyun Kim and He Won Han, had won the last two LPGA events held in the Columbus area:

“That s a good point because I think this area, the Columbus area, in a lot of ways is similar to Korea,” said Choi, who had a 68 yesterday and is tied for second, two shots behind Els. “There are a lot of trees, you get some wind here, and just the elevation of the mountain makes me very comfortable. I m sure it also makes other Korean players comfortable when they also come here, so I think that s why they were able to play well.”

SAND MAN: If tournament host Jack Nicklaus had avoided bunkers, yesterday might have been another pretty good round. Instead, it added up to a 77.

“I hit a thin shot out of a bunker on No. 4 and three-putted for a double bogey, then on No. 13 I didn t get out of a bunker and three-putted for a triple-bogey,” he said. “You take away a double and a triple and it s not a bad round.”

Nicklaus scored 73-74 in the first two rounds to make the cut.

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