Cameron Percy has found out that life in the big time can be pretty hard.
The 36-year-old PGA Tour rookie from Australia has had a rough year, making the cut in only nine of 23 events and winning $207,082.
But like so many who come to Las Vegas in the hopes of striking it rich, Percy might leave town ahead today if he can avoid imploding at TPC Summerlin.
He had the best round of his brief pro career Saturday, posting a 9-under-par 62 in the third round of the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. For a few hours, he was leading at 17 under and flirting with the course record of 61.
He didn’t equal the record, nor did he remain in the lead. But he has put himself in position to pick up the biggest check of his life, as he begins today’s final round two shots behind leader and defending champion Martin Laird. Percy’s largest payday is $56,628, when he tied for 22nd at the Valero Texas Open in May.
"I probably should have had a 59," Percy said. "I left a couple of shots out there. But I’ve hit the ball well all week, so I thought I was capable of doing something here."
Percy, who didn’t take up golf until he was 16 and turned pro at 25, said the PGA Tour is much different from anything else he has experienced.
"You have virtually no margin for error," he said. "You miss by a yard or two and now you’re playing out of the rough, which in most places is very long.
"You miss fairways here, it’s going to cost you. And I’ve missed a lot of fairways this year."
Percy spent four years on the Nationwide Tour before finally getting his shot at the big time. And he knows how important today is.
"This could change my life," he said of the possibility of winning $774,000 for finishing first. "Even a top-five finish would be huge."
■ FORMER REBELS STRUGGLE — It was a tough third round for Warren Schutte and Chris Riley, as the former UNLV stars finished above par.
Schutte came in at 3-over 74, and Riley shot 2-over 73, with both golfers way down on the leaderboard.
Chad Campbell had his worst round of the week, finishing with a 1-over 72 after carding a 68 and a 64. He is tied for 37th.
■ IMADA UNRAVELS — Ryuji Imada was the talk of the tournament Friday with his brilliant round of 62. On Saturday, he was just another pro trying to hold things together as he struggled all day and finished with a 1-under 70.
Playing in the final group with Jonathan Byrd, Imada bogeyed Nos. 4 and 5 and was 1 over through 12. He is tied for 11th place.
"You know, this is a golf course where 3 or 4 under is a par," Imada said. "The top guys are not going to shoot over par. So for me to come out and have a chance, I’ve got to shoot somewhere around 10 under. It’s going to be pretty tough. But I had a great day on Friday, and if I can just duplicate that, I may have a shot at it"
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913.