Perez takes lead with opening 60

Associated Press
Published January 19, 2006

PALM DESERT, Calif. - Pat Perez shot 12-under 60 in the opening round of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic on Wednesday, joining some elite company.

Perez became only the 20th player in PGA Tour history to shoot 60 or lower. The record is 59, shared by David Duval, Chip Beck and Al Geiberger.

Perez made 12 birdies and no bogeys over the 6,930-yard Arnold Palmer Course at PGA West for a three-shot lead over Chad Campbell. Steve Elkington was a stroke behind Campbell. Palm Harbor's John Huston, Olin Browne and Tom Pernice Jr. were tied for fourth at 65.

Phil Mickelson, the Hope champion in '02 and '04, shot 6-under 66 at La Quinta Country Club in his season debut.

The first four rounds of the 90-hole tournament are a pro-am, with the players alternating among four courses. The final day is pros only, with the field trimmed to the low 70 and ties.

The 29-year-old Perez, who joined the tour in '02 and is looking for his first win, began the opening day on the back nine at PGA West. Setting the tone for his round, he hit a 9-iron to within 6 feet of the pin and sank the putt.

He tapped in for birdie on the next hole, and after a par on No. 12 he rolled in a 35-footer for birdie at 13.

"I hadn't made one of those in a while," said Perez, who needed just 22 putts. "It just kind of snowballed, and everything started going in."

Outback Pro-Am

Defending champ Hale Irwin is among the early commitments to next month's Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am at the TPC of Tampa Bay. Irwin will be joined by '04 champ Mark McNulty, Peter Jacobsen, Curtis Strange, Fuzzy Zoeller, Tom Kite, Lanny Wadkins and Gary Koch.

Former Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella and tennis star Jim Courier were the latest celebrity commitments and join Kevin Costner, Mark Wahlberg, Joe Theismann, Boomer Esiason and Derrick Brooks.

The 76 players in the field will be paired with an amateur for the first two rounds of the 54-hole event, with all pros and the top 12 teams advancing to Sunday's final round. The tournament is Feb. 24-26. For ticket information call 813 265-4653 or visit www.outbackproam.com

Times staff writer Bob Harig contributed to this report.