Perez playing through the pain | NevadaAppeal.com

Perez playing through the pain

DARRELL MOODY
Appeal Sports Writer

RENO – Pat Perez has been in constant agony for nearly six months, but an opening-round 5-under-par 67 at the 8th annual Reno Tahoe Open has dulled the pain a little bit.

Perez suffers from tendonitis in both elbows, and goes through therapy three hours a day at Athletes Performance in Scottsdale, Ariz.

“It came about at the end of March, right after TPC at the worst time,” Perez said. “It’s has been really frustrating and miserable. I have had rounds where I start out well and then I can’t hold my club anymore, and have to quit after 10 holes.

“They work on my neck and back, poke around and scrape the arm for three hours and it’s torture. I have to do it and I’m taking 15 Advil a day and just trying to get by. Some days are good and some days are horrendous. I have been home watching everyone else play well and play, period.”

Perez registered five birdies in his round, two on the front and three on the back. He is one shot behind John Cook, Rich Beem and Nick Watney, all of whom shot 66.

“It is probably the first round I shot under par since TPC,” Perez said. “If I can get through this week with as little pain and have a good finish then I will probably just take the rest of the year off and try to heal.”

DIAMOND BACK AGAIN

If you hang around the clubhouse area at the RTO, you know Steve Diamond. Diamond has volunteered the previous seven Reno Tahoe Opens, and for the sixth straight year, he is in charge of caddies at the RTO.

“I was supposed to be working with caddies that first year, but for reasons beyond my control, I wasn’t the caddiemaster,” Diamond said earlier this week. “I helped Mike Mazzaferri with parking.”

Diamond’s role is that as an administrator. He makes sure caddies fill out the proper forms, and he assigns caddies for players who need one.

“They want to know who is caddying for who,” Diamond said. “They chart how many weeks they work per year; who the full-time caddie is.

“I sell yardage books to players and caddies. All the caddies buy them, and some of the players do. So many of the caddies and players forget their books, or they get so worn out that they can’t read their notes anymore on them.”

Diamond also will assign caddies for pros that don’t bring their regular guy, or for amateurs who want a professional caddie during the pro-am.

“I think in the seven years I’ve done this, there have been about that many opportunities for local caddies,” Diamond said. “One year there were three opportunities for caddies and some years there are no opportunities.”

LOCALS PLAYERS HAVE AVERAGE DAY

Todd Fischer’s 3-under-par 69 led the three local players entered in the tournament.

Ex-UNR golfers Kirk Triplett and Michael Allen shot 73 and 71, respectively. Triplett won the tournament in 2003 with a final-round 63.

Fischer was upset with his putting.

“I had five birdies, three were kick-ins,” Fischer said. “I didn’t make anything worth talking about. I was 4-under going into No. 7 (his 16th hole), and I hit my approach shot to 5 feet of the hole and I almost three-putted. I rammed it through the break.

“I was never in any danger. I had some putts 12 to 15 feet from the hole and I didn’t make any.”

Despite the putting woes, Fischer is still in the hunt after the first day, and that’s something to be thankful for.

“I didn’t shoot myself (out of it),” Fischer said. “My patience level is not very high. To shoot 3-under, I couldn’t have shot any higher.”

THE HOLE REPORT

The toughest hole on Thursday was the par-3 12th, which played to a 3.318 average. The second-toughest was the par-4 14th which played to a 4.197. Ranking third was the par-3 16th, which played to a 3.189.

The easiest hole on the course was the par-5 11th, which played to a 4.523 average. The next-easiest was the par-5 4th which played to a 4.598 average. The third-easiest was No. 9, a 616-yard par-5 which played to a 4.780.

FACTS & FIGURES

There were five bogey-free rounds – Gary Hallberg (68), Perez (67), Cook (66), Joe Durant (68) and David McKenzie (66) … Bubba Watson, the longest driver on the PGA Tour, averaged 375 yards on his two official drives … Craig Barlow and Daniel Chopra missed just one green each during their first round … Briny Baird, Paul Goydos, Troy Matteson, Blaine McCallister, Spike McRoy, Ted Purdy, Watney and Ron Whittaker hit all 14 fairways … Australia’s Jason Day is using the fifth of seven possible sponsor exemption to try to earn enough money to become a special temporary member for the remainder of the season and then try to earn his Tour card for the 2007 season without having to go to Q-school. Day shot a first-round 68… The first-round scoring average of 71.818 is a tournament record.

•Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1281