ATLANTA - Kenny Perry already has had a week to remember at the Tour Championship.
He was honored with the Payne Stewart Award, which he called the greatest accomplishment of his career. He was so overcome by the stifling heat in the opening round at East Lake that he thought he might throw up after five holes and was lucky to shoot a 72.
How about this to top it off?
A two-shot lead going into today, a final pairing with Tiger Woods, his entire family in town, and a chance to capture the Tour Championship, and maybe even the $10 million bonus for winning the FedEx Cup.
'It might be magical,' Perry said Saturday. 'We'll see.'
His round Saturday was magical enough. Perry birdied the opening four holes - all on putts inside 8 feet - to quickly catch up to Woods, then kept bogeys off his card the rest of the way for a 6-under 64.
'Four birdies in a row puts you in a good mood is all I can say,' said Perry, who was at 8-under 202. 'That set the tone for the day.'
Woods had a 12-foot birdie putt on the first hole that slid by the cup, and that set the tone for his day. He missed a half-dozen chances from 15 feet or under, yet his only significant birdies came on putts of 20 and 55 feet. The other was a two-putt on a par 5. He wound up with a 69, his eighth consecutive round in the 60s during the FedEx Cup playoffs, yet this one cost him the lead.
'I got fooled a few times there,' Woods said, confused by the slope and grain on the greens.
Perry has 14 career victories, yet only two of them has come with Woods in the field. Even with a two-shot lead, he is approaching today as though he has nothing to lose. He even playfully challenged the world's No. 1 player.
'Here I am at 49, I'm still trying to beat him,' Perry said. 'I have fun with it. He'd better bring his 'A' game is all I've got to say.'
For Perry to win the FedEx Cup, he would need a victory today and for Woods to finish in a three-way tie for third or worse. That remains a possibility, given the players stacked up behind them.
Phil Mickelson continued to ooze confidence with his putter and shot a 4-under 66, suddenly believing he can make any putt whether it's from 4 feet or 40 feet. He was at 4-under 206 along with Sean O'Hair (70), who was tied with Woods until pulling a tee shot into the water on the 17th to make double bogey.
Padraig Harrington, playing with Woods for the ninth time this year, stopping making birdies to offset his mistakes and shot a 71, leaving him at 207 with Steve Marino (67).