Perez sets hot pace in 111-minute final round

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The Independent Online

The American Pat Perez set a clubhouse target unlikely to be beaten at the USPGA Championship yesterday – not for shots taken for a round, but for the time taken.

The 26-year-old from Arizona played his final round here at Hazeltine National near Minneapolis in an amazing 111 minutes.

Perez, playing on his own at the head of the field after his nightmare third-round 85, was signing for a four-over-par 76 as Thomas Levet and Matt Gogel, who teed off 10 minutes after him, were on the 10th fairway.

Records are not kept, but it was almost certainly the fastest 18 holes ever in a major championship.

Colin Montgomerie drew comments for the speed at which he played the last round of the Open at Muirfield last month. But his two hours 46 minutes was positively tortoise-like compared to Perez.

For at least two hours the 26-year-old from Phoenix could boast that he held the clubhouse lead on the final day of a major. But his 21-over-par 309 was not exactly challenging for the big prizes at the end of the day.

Justin Leonard led overnight at nine under par, three clear of his fellow American Rich Beem and four in front of Fred Funk. Tiger Woods, searching for a unique grand slam of US majors in a calendar year after winning the US Masters and US Open already in 2002, lies five shots back, along with Mark Calcavecchia.

Leonard came from five behind on the last day to win the 1997 Open at Troon by three shots, so he knows that victory is far from assured. Without being disrespectful to Leonard, if he can retrieve such a deficit, then Woods certainly can.