Birmingham, AL (SportsNetwork.com) - Kenny Perry carded a 3-under 69 on Saturday to claim a 1-stroke lead at the season's first major of the Champions Tour, the Regions Tradition.
Perry finished 54 holes at Shoal Creek Club at 7-under-par 209. He is a two- time major winner on the Champions Tour, collecting back-to-back titles at the Senior Players Championship and U.S. Senior Open last year.
"Hit the ball beautifully today, was in very control of the driver, irons were nice, putted okay," said Perry." Nothing outstanding, but I just played very consistent, very steady golf today."
John Inman fired the low round of the day with a 6-under 66 to jump into second place at 6-under 210.
Second-round leader Mark Calcavecchia tripped to a 2-over 74 during his third round to fall into a tie with Jeff Maggert (69), Tom Pernice, Jr. (70), Olin Browne (72), John Cook (71), Steve Elkington (71) and Jay Haas (73) for third at 4-under.
Colin Montgomery (69) is alone in 10th at minus-3.
Calcavecchia entered the day with a 1-stroke advantage, but followed three opening pars with a bogey at the fourth to fall to 5-under and into a tie for the lead with the Cook and Perry.
Perry had birdied the third to reach minus-5, while Cook birdied the first, third and fourth around a bogey at the second to earn his share of the lead.
The tie was short-lived, however, as Calcavecchia birdied the sixth to reclaim the outright lead.
After Cook posted a double-bogey at the eighth to fall well off the pace, Perry birdied the eighth to meet Calcavecchia atop the leaderboard.
Calcavecchia then tripped to a bogey at the ninth to hand the lead to Perry, and later double-bogeyed the par-5 11th to fall further behind.
Inman, meanwhile, recorded birdies at the third, fifth, seventh and eighth during an outward 32 to make the turn at 4-under.
Another birdie at the 12th pulled him within a shot of the lead before he stuck his approach at the 14th to inches of the hole and kicked in that birdie to meet Perry at 6-under.
Inman made it two gains in a row with a birdie at the 15th to claim sole possession of first, but tripped to a bogey at the 16th to fall back into a tie with Perry.
Perry took advantage of the gaffe with back-to-back birdies at the 12th and 13th to move two clear of Inman at minus-8.
After Inman parred his final two holes to remain at 6-under, Perry bogeyed the 16th to cut his advantage to one before closing with a pair of pars to remain a shot ahead entering the final round.
"I just felt like I was swinging at it well, had good rhythm," Inman said. "I knew I was going up the board, so we'll let that shake itself out by tomorrow,"
NOTES: Perry can become the second player to win three straight major championships on the Champions Tour ... Gary Player is the only player in Champions Tour history to win three consecutive majors, claiming the 1987 Senior Players Championship, the 1987 U.S. Senior Open and then the 1988 PGA Seniors Championship ... Inman is searching for his first win since the PGA Tour's 1993 Buick Southern Open ... Russ Cochran withdrew after completing his third round. He shot a 10-over 82 on Saturday.