Sports Pernice on fire By Paul Arnett Sept. 20, 2014 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARADVERTISER.COMTom Pernice Jr. birdied 12 of 18 holes, setting a Kapolei course record by shooting a 60 during the opening round. Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. Standing over his 59th swing in the middle of the ninth fairway, Tom Pernice Jr. didn’t know he had a shot at history. Somewhere on his back nine, the first-round leader of the $2.2 million Pacific Links Hawaii Championship lost count of all the birdies he’d bagged in perfect conditions at the Kapolei Golf Club. His L-wedge from 69 yards went just past the ninth hole, then spun back to about a foot for what would be his 12th birdie of the day en route to his becoming the 10th player in the 35-year history of the Champions Tour to shoot 60. "I really didn’t know where I stood, to be honest with you," Pernice said. "I just wanted to make another birdie and I had a good chance. Luckily the shot turned out good. At that time, I didn’t know I was 11 under. "I’m just thrilled to get off to a good start. To shoot 60 and be 12 under, that’s obviously special. It’s awesome to be only the 10th player to do it. Making 12 out of 18 birdies, that’s a good stretch." The 12 birdies by Pernice tie a Champions Tour record. The other three guys to do it were Walter Morgan (2001), Fred Couples (2012) and Kevin Sutherland (August 2014). With the tradewinds down, scores were low among the 81 players in the field. The scoring average was 69.580, with 62 golfers in the red and 70 shooting even par or better. Pernice beat the tournament record of 64 set by Mark Wiebe by four shots. Michael Allen, who was the last golfer to shoot a 60, en route to a win in February, was second with an 8-under 64. He was battling a bad cold, never thinking beyond the next shot, and was unaware that his round wasn’t the best of the day until told about Pernice’s round. Allen said that, after shooting his opening-round 60 at the Allianz Championship, it was important for him to win the tournament. He followed it up with a pair of 69s and eventually beat Duffy Waldorf in a playoff. "It’s hard to back up a number like that," Allen said. "When you shoot 60, you don’t plan on it. Some things have to happen. I didn’t want to be the guy who shot a 60 and then didn’t win the tournament." Pernice conceded Saturday’s second round would offer some challenges. Shooting another 60 is unlikely, but coming back with another round in the 60s would be good as he looks for his fourth win on the Champions Tour. "All you can do really is to continue to drive the ball in play," Pernice said. "If you have a good opportunity with your iron play, you can capitalize with your putter. It sounds simple, but you know, I wasn’t trying to go out today to shoot 60. I was going out today to hit good quality shots and give myself the most opportunities and trust my stroke." And it’s not as if Pernice was the only player in the 60s. He had plenty of company. Joey Sindelar, with his son on the bag, returned to the press room for the first time in two years thanks to his 7-under 65 that left him tied for third with Scott Dunlap, who recently won in Seattle. Five golfers shot 6-under 66s to tie for fifth. Among them were Jay Haas and Vijay Singh. Ten golfers fired 5-under 67s and are tied for 10th, including Kevin Sutherland, who had the first 59 on the senior circuit just a month ago. If the conditions remain this way through the weekend, somebody might have to go that low to win this third-annual event. "I wasn’t sure I would ever shoot a 65 again," said Sindelar, who has been battling back injuries. "I’ve been living in the 30th and 40th area for a while now. I’m not saying I’m going to win, but I’m very pleased with how I played." But on this day, nobody played better than Pernice, whose longest birdie putt was 15 feet. Most of his birdies were inside 5 feet and when he needed something extraordinary, he found it. He had a 25-foot chip-in for birdie off the edge of the par-3 eighth that was key for the 29 he carded on his back nine (he started at No. 10). "Lots of wedges and lots of short putts," Pernice said. "I hit two good shots right out of the box and kept it up all day." Previous Story Hawaii sweeps Northern Arizona in volleyball Next Story Game Day!