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A Perry-Perry Good Stretch

June 12, 2003|Michael Arkush

1 Who's hot: Kenny Perry, of course, with back-to-back wins at the Colonial and Memorial, two of the more prestigious non-major events on tour. Suddenly, he's a legitimate Open contender.... Vijay Singh, another pick to do well at Olympia Fields, with six top 11s in his last six starts.... Jim Furyk (nine top 10s in 14 starts), due for his first major.

2 Who's not: Mark Brooks, the ultimate grinder who outdueled Perry in the 1996 PGA Championship at Valhalla and lost to Retief Goosen in an 18-hole playoff in the 2001 U.S. Open at Southern Hills. Brooks has missed five cuts in his last six tournaments, with no top-40 finishes in 14 events.... Another former PGA champion, John Daly, only one top 50 in 12 starts.

3 Biggest surprises: Besides Perry, 49-year-old Jay Haas. The only thing he lacks is a victory.... Houston champion Fred Couples, recording his first victory in five years.... Woody Austin, who had to perform well down the stretch to make it through last year's final stage of Qualifying School. Austin already has three top 10s; he had only one in 2002.

4 Biggest disappointments: Charles Howell III. Since his loss to Mike Weir in the Nissan Open playoff, the much-heralded Howell hasn't come close to winning, with only one top 10. He's missing a lot of fairways.... Another promising youngster, Luke Donald, who got his first win last year, hasn't posted a top 10 since February.

5 Best rounds: Give credit to Perry and Justin Leonard for the splendid 61s they shot on consecutive days at the Colonial, but the score can't compare to the 71 recorded by Annika Sorenstam in the opening round. Under intense pressure, Sorenstam hit 13 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens in regulation.... The final-round 65 by Len Mattiace at the Masters. If only he had made par on 18.

6 Worst round: Scott Verplank's 74 in the final round at New Orleans. Verplank was up by three shots after 54 holes, then experienced putting problems the whole afternoon, finishing third.... Tiger Woods' final-round 75 at Augusta. Woods seemed poised to make his move until a costly error in club selection on the third hole resulted in a double bogey.

7 Best shots under pressure: Davis Love's birdie chip from 65 feet on the 18th hole to force a playoff with Austin at Hilton Head. Love prevailed on the fourth hole to win the event for the fifth time.... Steve Flesch's 40-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to beat Bob Estes in New Orleans.

8 Worst shots under pressure: The three-foot par putt Woody Austin missed on the second extra hole at Hilton Head. If he had converted, Austin would have had his first tournament victory since the 1995 Buick Open.... Jeff Maggert from the bunker at the third hole in the Masters. The shot, a little thin, hit the lip and then struck him in the chest, resulting in a two-stroke penalty.

9 Coming attractions: After the U.S. Open, the tour moves to another demanding course, Westchester Country Club, for the Buick Classic. Then comes the Fed-Ex. St. Jude Classic, which should be its usual scoring fest.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

*--* PGA Money Leaders No Player Events Money 1 Davis Love III 12 $3,927,962 2 Mike Weir 11 $3,705,025 3 Tiger Woods 7 $3,287,250 4 Vijay Singh 12 $3,149,642 5 Kenny Perry 15 $2,551,171 6 Jim Furyk 14 $2,322,241 7 Ernie Els 8 $2,317,925 8 Justin Leonard 14 $2,118,550 9 David Toms 14 $2,098,206 10 Jay Haas 13 $1,687,727 11 Chad Campbell 16 $1,599,416 12 Steve Flesch 17 $1,471,830 13 Chris DiMarco 15 $1,401,320 14 Fred Couples 10 $1,398,774 15 Nick Price 10 $1,392,077

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PGA Tour at a Glance

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UPCOMING EVENTS

*--* Date Tournament Location 2002 Champ Today-Sunday U.S. Open Olympia Fields Tiger Woods Country Club, Olympia Fields, Ill June 16-22 Buick Classic Westchester Chris Smith Country Club, Harrison, N.Y June 23-29 FedEx St. Jude Classic Tournament Len Mattiace Players Club at Southwind, Memphis June 30-July 6 100th Western Open Cog Hill Golf & Jerry Kelly Country Club, Lemont, Ill July 7-13 Greater Milwaukee Open Brown Deer Park Jeff Sluman Golf Course, Milwaukee

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