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Sluman takes lead despite bad drives

He still shot a sparkling round of 7-under 64

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MILWAUKEE — Jeff Sluman was amazed he was atop the leaderboard after an erratic round in the Greater Milwaukee Open on Saturday.

"Well, my score indicates that I played very well. I guess I did, I just didn't drive the ball very well," Sluman said after firing a 7-under 64 despite hitting just five of 13 fairways.

"I didn't know if I hit that many. It was a rally at the end."

At 14-under 199, Sluman could hardly believe he was the 54-hole leader, one stroke ahead of Harrison Frazar, Shigeki Maruyama and second-round leader Kenny Perry.

"After I'm done talking to you, I'm going to go to the range and try to figure it out," said Sluman, the 1998 winner at Brown Deer Park. "A little experience and a little knowledge of the golf course kept me from making any major mistakes out there."

Sluman, who had seven birdies and no bogeys, began the day six strokes behind Perry, who took a three-stroke lead into the weekend and said he wanted to run away with the GMO the way Loren Roberts did last year.

But Perry failed to follow up his 63 on Friday with anything close to another dominating round. On a windless, dry day made for low scores, Perry shot an even-par 71 on the short 6,759-yard course to remain at 13 under.

"The weakness of a player will always show," Perry said.

And for him, that's putting.

"That's always been my Achilles' heel," Perry said. "It was funny. The hole looked like a bushel basket yesterday and today it looked like a thimble."

Perry, who had one bogey on the front nine and one birdie on the back nine, tried to look on the bright side, just like Sluman.

"If this was my bad round, that's good," Perry said. "I'm only one behind."

Frazar, seeking his first victory in his 100th PGA Tour event, fired a 62, one off the course record held by Steve Lowery. It also matched his career low from the second round of the 1999 Las Vegas Invitational.

Frazar birdied six times on the front nine for a 29, matching the low nine-hole score on the tour this year, joining Steve Stricker, who did it on the front nine Friday.

"Today I hit a few shots close. I made some long putts. I hit the par-5s in two. It was kind of an easy 62 if there's any such thing," Frazar said. "Really the only time I had a question if I was going to make a bogey was on the par-3 14th. I hit it in the bunker and blasted it to about eight feet and made that for par, and that was the only time I ever came close to making a bogey. So, pretty easy.

"I guess they usually are easy if you shoot 62. I've never heard anybody say that was really hard."

Tim Herron, Marco Dawson and Charles Howell were three strokes back and Stricker is among six players four strokes behind Sluman, who is seeking his first PGA Tour victory since the 1999 Sony Open in Hawaii.

Skip Kendall, playing in his hometown GMO to fulfill his father's dying wish, continued his steady climb up the leaderboard with a 65 to go 8 under, tied for 21st.

He had a 73 on Thursday, tying him for 113th place, less than 24 hours after his father died. His mother flew out to watch him and on Friday, he shot a 67.

"It's probably getting a little easier," said Kendall, who closed with four consecutive birdies. "Just with my mom being here, I think it's made it a lot easier."

There are 30 players within seven shots of the lead, which could make for a scramble Sunday — just what Perry didn't want.

"If I shoot a good round today, I can go away with a little cushion for Sunday," Perry lamented. "I kind of opened the door and let everyone back in."

Divots: Eighty-eight players made the 36-hole cut — the highest on the PGA Tour since the 1999 GMO. ... First-round leader Jay Haas, who is at 204 after shooting a 69, broke Andy North's record by playing in his 85th round at the GMO. Haas also broke the tournament record by making his 19th cut in 24 appearances, besting Dave Eichelberger's 18. ... Roberts, who barely made the 36-hole cut at 1-under 141, shot a 67 and is nine strokes back. ... Scott Hoch (203), seventh in the Ryder Cup standings, said he'd like to represent his country and play for captain Curtis Strange, his college buddy. "But other than those two things there, I think it's probably the most overrated thing there is," Hoch said.