It’s a familiar story for Kenny Perry.
In the Constellation Senior Players Championship at Fox Chapel Golf Club last year, Perry opened with a 1-over-par 71 and followed with consecutive 63s to pull within two shots of the lead. He leapfrogged Fred Couples with a 64 on the final day to win by two strokes.
This time, Perry shot a 70 Thursday and followed with yet another 63 Friday, moving him from a tie for 40th place after the first round into a tie for ninth at 7-under 133 after two rounds.
For Perry, the reason for the surge was simple.
“I hit it closer to the hole today and had opportunities to make putts,” he said. “I made a couple nice putts, but I left a lot out there. I missed some gimmes.”
Even with the missed chances, Perry had the low round of the day and finished four shots behind leader Bernhard Langer.
Perry opened with a birdie on the par-3 third hole and followed it with birdies on No. 7 and No. 8. He caught fire on the back nine with birdies on 11, 12 and 14.
He missed short birdie putts at 15 and 17 — one rimming out of the cup, the other stopping inches from the hole.
At the par-5 No. 18, Perry hit his tee shot into a hazard pitched it safely back to the fairway. His approach put him 8 feet from the hole, where he knocked in the putt for his seventh birdie of the round.
Perry had no bogeys, but said he didn’t feel as if he putted well. He’s on a similar pace to his 19-under 261 that last year won him his first major on the Champions Tour.
But Perry said it doesn’t matter what he shoots if Langer continues to play like he has in the first two rounds. The rest of the field, however, might have caught a break when Langer broke his driver on the final hole.
“I don’t know if they’re going to be able to fix that driver,” Perry said. “It may give us a shot. He’s playing flawless golf. He’s going to be a hard man to catch.”
Last year, Perry trailed Couples by six strokes after two rounds. So he doesn’t have to overcome as large a lead this time. Can he do it?
“Definitely. It’s out there,” Perry said. “The golf course is soft. It’s just a matter of controlling the spin and getting it closer to the hole.”
Sean Hammond: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1466 and Twitter @sean_hammond.