Pernice leads weather-delayed event in Mississippi
Saucier, MS (Sports Network) - Tom Pernice, Jr. was seven-under par through 12 holes Friday and was alone atop the leaderboard at the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic when the opening round was suspended due to darkness.
There was a lengthy weather delay prior to the round as nearly eight inches of rain fell at Fallen Oak Golf Club on Wednesday. The course was so wet tournament officials kept fans off the course for the entire day.
"First off, it was remarkable that the superintendent, the grounds crew, did the job they did. We could have easily not played," Pernice stated. "I never had mud on my ball on the fairway one time. So hats off. The bunkers were all cleaned up. They did a great job."
The start of the round was delayed four and half hours. Twelve players managed to finish their rounds on Friday. The remainder of the field will return to the course on Saturday and re-start the first round at 9 a.m. Officials plan to start round two at 12:30 p.m.
Chien Soon Lu and David Eger, the 2010 champion, are one stroke off the lead at minus-six. Lu finished 16 holes, while Eger had completed 15.
Peter Senior and Jim Carter were the leaders in the clubhouse at five-under 67. Bobby Clampett (17 holes) and John Huston (14 holes) also stand at minus- five.
The 52-year-old Pernice birdied the first, then dropped in back-to-back birdie efforts from the third. Following a birdie on the par-five sixth, Pernice made it two in a row as he also birdied the seventh.
Pernice, who won the 2009 SAS Championship, parred eight and nine before a birdie on the 10th gave him a piece of the lead at minus-six. He birdied the 12th before play was stopped for the night to move one ahead.
This is the first Champions Tour event of the year for Pernice. He has played eight PGA Tour events, but has missed the cut in five of them and finished no better than tied for 43rd.
"I played really solid. I've been working hard on my game. Haven't gotten too much out of it so far this year on the regular tour," said Pernice, who shared 25th place at this event last year.
"Things have been getting better. Today was a lot better. Capitalized, got off to a great start."
Lu started on the back nine and poured in four straight birdies from the 11th. However, he bookended that run with bogeys at 10 and 15. He birdied the 18th to make the turn at minus-three.
On the front side, Lu carded three more birdies at one, three and six. He parred the seventh before play was stopped.
Eger birdied the first, then had consecutive birdies from the fifth to move to five-under. He tripped to a bogey on the ninth, but ran off three straight birdies from the 11th to get to five-under.
The par-five 15th was Eger's final hole of the day and he made birdie to share second place.
NOTES: Defending champion Tom Lehman was even-par through 11 holes and was tied for 43rd place. Lehman had a birdie and a bogey to go with nine pars...Jeff Sluman, who shared second place last year, and Fred Couples are among 11 players tied in 10th place at minus-three.
03/23 22:30:30 ET