Pernice Jr. maintains Toshiba Classic lead amid challenge from field

Pernice Jr. maintains Toshiba Classic lead amid challenge from field
Tom Pernice Jr. competes in the second round of the Toshiba Classic at Newport Beach Country Club on Saturday. (Drew A. Kelley)

The second day of the Toshiba Classic was anything but a walk in the park for Tom Pernice Jr.

Cold, wet weather made holes play longer, and the rain seemed to pick up in the last hour of Saturday's action at the Newport Beach Country Club.


The field charged on, threatening to take the lead, but never displacing him from the top spot on the leaderboard.

After leading by three strokes at the end of Friday, Pernice is hanging onto a one-stroke lead (eight-under-par) over two others entering the final round.


"I feel fine," Pernice said. "I hit the ball better today, actually. I just didn't have that many opportunities and didn't capitalize."

Pernice played a one-under-par round on Saturday, failing to build upon his seven-under Friday performance.

"I think I played the par-fives maybe one-over, and yesterday, I played them three-under. That was probably the difference."

In addition, Pernice had 30 putts on Saturday, compared to just 22 putts on Friday.

Pernice has won four of the five PGA TOUR Champions events that he has held at least a share of the lead going into the final round. If Pernice wins the Toshiba Classic, he would become only the third wire-to-wire winner of the event. The others are Nick Price (2011) and David Frost (2013).

The challengers caught up to Pernice following his bogey on No. 13. At that point, Pernice was in a five-way tie for the lead with Joe Durant, Vijay Singh, Steve Jones and Scott McCarron.

Durant converted a front bunker shot on the par-three 17th hole to join the group at seven-under.

"I had a lot of good shots, hit a lot of greens, which is what you have to try to do is hit the ball solid on a day like today," Durant said after delivering a bogey-free, five-under-par round. "The only time I really thought of making bogey was on 17. I hit it in the front bunker, and I holed it, so I made birdie. That was a nice gift there."

Durant and McCarron are tied for second, one shot back of the lead. McCarron was three-under on Saturday, producing six birdies and three bogeys.

McCarron noted that the rain softened up the greens, making them about eight inches to a foot slower. He added that he has struggled to find his putting stroke after it was an ally last season.

"I haven't been putting as well as I did last year, and that's the biggest thing," McCarron said. "I was second in putting last year behind [Bernhard Langer]."

McCarron is tied for 50th in putts per green in regulation so far this year.

Scott Verplank and Singh finished tied for fourth at six-under. Singh was hot on the tail of Pernice until his putter let him down on the final two holes.

Singh was the last player in the tournament to bogey, picking up his first on the 17th hole on Saturday. After playing a beautiful approach to the pin to within a few feet of the hole, Singh pushed the putt wide to spoil a birdie opportunity on No. 18.

"I left quite a lot out there, but I guess everybody did," Singh said.

Asked what carried him through a nearly bogey-free first two rounds, Singh said it came down to being consistent.

"I've been putting well and pretty much doing everything good," he said. "Consistent. Nothing spectacular or nothing disastrous."

The top round of the day belonged to Brandt Jobe, who shot a six-under 65. He finds himself in a tie for 26th place, though, owing to the 75 he scored on Friday.

David Toms was also a standout, pulling himself into contention with a five-under 66. He is among a group of six who are tied for eighth, four strokes back of Pernice.

Durant, who came into the event ranked fourth on the Charles Schwab Cup money list, is feeling confident going into the final round. He won the Chubb Classic early this season, and he will be in the final grouping with Pernice and McCarron.

"That's all you ask for is just opportunities," Durant said. "I feel good about my game. It will be a shootout tomorrow, some good scores."

It rained all day Saturday, but the storms are supposed to pass before the Sunday's action begins at 10:30 a.m.

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