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Pernice leads at Buick Open

Tom Pernice Jr., Tout, Third Round, Buick Open
Carlos Osorio/AP
Tom Pernice Jr. made an eagle and four birdies to finish his round.

GRAND BLANC, Mich. (AP) — Tom Pernice Jr. was having a mediocre round until surprising himself with a spectacular stretch that pushed his name atop a shuffled leaderboard.

Pernice had an eagle and four birdies during a five-hole run and his 66 Saturday gave him the third-round lead at the topsy-turvy Buick Open.

"The way I was going along, I never dreamed I would get to 6 under," he said. "Being patient pays off sometimes."

(Click here to see photos from today's action.)

Jesper Parnevik (64), Scott Verplank (69) and Brian Bateman (69) were a shot back entering the final round.

Former Buick Open champions Jim Furyk (71), Kenny Perry (71) and Woody Austin (69) were in a group of five players two strokes behind the leader. Pernice and Verplank have also won at Warwick Hills, where a $882,000 check is truly up for grabs without regulars Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh around to dominate.

Woods (with his wife and baby) and Singh (resting a sore elbow) are not playing the Buick Open for the first time since 2001 after combining to win four of the previous five.

After playing the first 12 holes even par, Pernice eagled No. 13 then ripped off four straight birdies before finishing with a par.

Parnevik made the big move Saturday, going from a tie for 46th into a tie for second with an 8 under. He had the best round — by two strokes — as Warwick Hills became tougher with firm greens.

The Swede is playing in his first Buick Open, instead of returning to Europe as he usually does after the U.S. Open.

"I decided to stay this year, which I'm very happy about," he said.

Parnevik, who usually doesn't return to the U.S. until the PGA Championship, will play at Oakland Hills in suburban Detroit on Monday in a British Open qualifier.

Pernice and Parnevik will be paired together, hoping to continue a trend.

The Buick Open winner has emerged from the final group since 1999 and the third-round leader has held on in each of the last six.

Pernice took advantage of the last leader who couldn't hold onto the lead on a Sunday at Warwick Hills.

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