Rocco Mediate shoots 61 for 3-shot lead in Florida in first event on Champions Tour

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Rocco Mediate shot an 11-under 61 Saturday, setting a course record and building a three-shot lead over Tom Pernice Jr. heading into the final round of the Allianz Championship in Boca Raton, Fla.

Mediate, a Greensburg native, is trying to become the 16th player to win his first start on the Champions Tour. He won six times on the PGA Tour and is probably best remembered for losing a playoff to Tiger Woods in the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

Mediate had five consecutive birdies on the front nine, highlighted by a drive to the green at the par-4 seventh hole. He added three more birdies after the turn and closed with a birdie at the 17th and a 10-foot eagle at the 18th.

It was the lowest round of Mediate's career, one better than his 62 at Colonial in 2001, and it snapped the tournament record of 63 set by Craig Stadler in 2007. Mediate's total of 128 through two rounds was three better than the 36-hole mark of 131 shared by Tim Simpson and Tommy Armour III.

"It has to be my best round I've played in a long time," Mediate said. "Obviously, it was my lowest. I haven't made that many putts in a long, long time. Feeling that again was cool. I haven't felt that in a while."

Pernice also had a strong day on the Old Course at Broken Sound, posting a 65 after beginning the day in a tie for the lead. He lost ground in his pursuit of his second Champions Tour title, but he said he wasn't discouraged.

"Rocco shot 61, he should be leading," said Pernice, who was the previous player to win his first start on the Champions Tour in 2009. "It wasn't that easy out there. I'm happy with where I'm at. I've got a chance tomorrow. That's why we play three days, not two."

Mediate stayed aggressive after the run of five consecutive birdies, and he said that was the key to his 61. He said he will have to continue that approach in the final round.

"You can't let down or take it off the pedal out here," he said. "You have to go crazy from the start to the finish, or you can't win. I don't know what's going to happen [today], but I just want to keep putting myself in contention."

Pernice knows he won't be the crowd favorite in the final round, but he's fine with that. He even agrees with it.

"It's nice to see him playing well," Pernice said of Mediate. "He's very entertaining, a great guy and he's going to be a great addition to the tour."

Bernhard Langer, who won here in 2010, shot a 67 and is five back at 11-under 133. David Frost (65) is alone in fourth at 135.

Other tournaments

• Pebble Beach National Pro-Am: Brandt Snedeker had his ninth consecutive round in the 60s. One more and he might really have reason to celebrate. Coming off consecutive runner-up finishes to Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, Snedeker ran off four consecutive birdies along the prettiest part of Pebble Beach and wound up tied for the lead with rookie James Hahn, 31, in Pebble Beach, Calif. They were at 12-under 202.

• Joburg Open: South African duo Richard Sterne and Trevor Fisher Jr. each shot a 4-under 68 to move five shots ahead of the field in Johannesburg. Both birdied the final hole for a 19-under 196 today at the Royal Johannesburg & Kensington GC. Felipe Aguilar (68), Jaco van Zyl (67) and George Coetzee (70) and two-time tournament winner Charl Schwartzel (68) trail at 14 under.

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