July 29, 2012
Piercy grinds out Canadian Open win
By KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency
ANCASTER, ONT. - Five years ago, as a struggling mini-tour player, Scott Piercy won the biggest single golf jackpot in history when he collected $2 million as the winner of a Las Vegas novelty event called The Ultimate Game.
In his mind, that lucrative accomplishment doesn't hold a candle to the $936,000 he won Sunday as the 2012 Canadian Open champ.
"That was the largest first-place cheque in history," said Piercy, "but I even said when I won for the first time on the Nationwide Tour, I won $95,000, but that it was worth more to my career because it was a building block to get to the tour. Definitely this (Canadian Open) is worth more than that, too."
This victory at Hamilton Golf and Country Club opens many doors for Piercy, not the least of which is a Masters invitation. He also gets into next week's World Golf Championship event in Akron. His world ranking (previously No. 100) will take a big leap forward and could get him into a steady stream of major championships.
"I always told myself I'm not going (to Augusta) unless I'm in the tournament, so now I can go," said Piercy.
After grinding for 72 holes, Piercy couldn't let down his guard after he made a par putt on the 18th hole to finish at 17-under par.
With William McGirt and Robert Garrigus waiting in the 18th fairway -- McGirt at 17-under and Garrigus at 16-under -- Piercy had to be ready for anything.
"These guys are so good that you have to expect they're going to make their shots," said Piercy. "You have to prepare yourself to go to a playoff and you have to prepare yourself to go win the playoff. So in your mind, you're still in grind mode even sitting in the clubhouse."
McGirt, needing a par to force a playoff, hit his approach into a greenside bunker, blasted out, then missed a 15-foot par putt, leaving it short. Garrigus hit a good approach and had a 12-foot putt for birdie, also to tie Piercy and he, too, left it short to finish in a tie with McGirt, one shot off the lead.
Even at that point, watching on TV in the scorer's tent, it was hard for Piercy to release himself from his competitive grip.
"It takes a while to hit you," he said. "But it's definitely exciting."
After three days of dartboard golf on a course laid vulnerable by drenching rains earlier in the week, HGCC started showing some of its true colours Sunday afternoon as fairways and greens dried out a bit, speeding up the golf course. As a result, a few bogeys started popping up on the leaderboard amid the birdies.
Piercy started the day at 14-under, two shots off the lead held by Garrigus, but made an early move with four birds in his first five holes. He played the final 13 holes in 1-over par but it became good enough as his rivals stumbled coming home.
A key shot for Piercy was a pitch-in from 22 feet from just off the 15th green for birdie that ended up providing the margin of victory.
"You never plan to chip it in at the 15th green on Sunday in the second-last group but I got a good lie, right up the hill," he said. "I didn't make a putt the whole day after No. 3. I was rolling it well but nothing was falling, so it was nice to see a chip go in."
From tee to green, Garrigus was the best player on the leaderboard but he couldn't make a putt.
"I should have been about 23 (under) the way I hit it," he said. "I'm kind of frustrated by that but, hey, I made a half-million bucks and I get to go home."
McGirt, too, was somewhat philosophical about his second-place tie and a cheque for $457,600.
"That was a blast, an absolute blast," he said of his week at Hamilton. "I played well but I would have liked to have played better on that back nine. I just couldn't get it close to the hole today. I couldn't take advantage of what I was doing well all week and that was making putts from 15 feet and in."
He particularly regretted leaving his last putt unforgiveably short.
"I wish it had been downhill instead of uphill," he said. "It would have been a much easier putt downhill. I wouldn't have had to worry about the speed. I was focusing too much on line and just forgot to hit it."