Chris Perry, who started yesterday just one shot behind eventual winner Tom Kite, knew early in his final round he wouldn't win the Kemper Open. Not after shooting 6 over par for eight holes and 41 for the front nine.

"He {Perry} crashed and burned on the front nine," said Kite, who played with him. But with three birdies early in his back nine, Perry brought the round back to respectability.

He managed a smile after a bogey at the 18th hole for 75 -- 277, and why not. It was the best showing ever for the 25-year-old son of Jim Perry and nephew of Gaylord Perry, both former major league pitchers. And the $61,600 he received for sharing second place with Howard Twitty heals many wounds.

"When you finish second and you've never done that before, it's not a bad feeling. I was proud of myself, the way I came back. Hopefully, that will break the ice for me," said Perry, who won 14 tournaments while playing for Ohio State.

The closest Perry got to Kite was five strokes when he birdied the 16th hole. "I was really rolling then," said Perry.

"My adrenaline was flowing on 17." He sent his tee shot into a bunker beyond the green and took a bogey on the hole.

Perry hit his drive into a right fairway bunker on the par-4 18th and followed with what he called his "worst shot of the tournament," a wicked hook out of the sand that stopped 150 feet left of the green. He chipped 25 feet past with his third shot. Then he hit his first putt four feet short of the hole. He made the bogey putt to finish seven strokes behind. Then he clenched his fist in satisfaction and shook hands with Kite.

Former Frederick pro Donnie Hammond, who struggled after an opening-round 70, finished with 73 and shot 290 to earn $1,603.

Hammond said his two main problems this week were decent-looking approach shots that ended up bouncing over greens, and "bad putting."

"On half the bogeys I made I felt that I hit a good shot," said Hammond, who lives in Longwood, Fla., with his wife and newborn son. "It's been about the same all week. I haven't been able to get anything mustered out there."

Hammond, by virtue of finshing among the top 30 PGA Tour earners last year, has an exemption into the U.S. Open in two weeks. He said he also would try to qualify for the British Open in Muirfield, Scotland, in July.

Tournament Chairman Ben Brundred said yesterday's estimated crowd of 50,000 was the biggest single-day turnout in the history of the Kemper.

He estimated 160,000 people visited Avenel during the week, surpassing the previous record of 134,000 set last year at Congressional. After ironing out traffic problems Friday, Brundred said yesterday: "We've had the two smoothest days of any Kemper."