When the 2012 golf season began Scott Piercy was wearing a golf cap void of sponsorship. Despite a win at the 2011 Reno-Tahoe Open, the Las Vegas native was a bit short on supporters for his PGA Tour campaign. His hat eventually blossomed with corporate backers but it wasn’t without a concerted effort that peaked on Sunday with a win at the 103rd RBC Canadian Open.
“With the economy the way it is and we thought we had a couple deals lined up, that it just didn’t close as quick as we thought. You know, it gave me the ability to kind of put a chip on my shoulder and go play well, and maybe create some of my own value so that I’m worth it.”
For the past three weeks on the PGA Tour, Piercy has done that, and then some.
Struggles at the U.S. Open and AT&T National in June left him going home early those weeks with nothing to show for it but he came back with a vengeance. In his last three events he has posted twelve straight rounds in the 60’s totaling 45-under par.
Three weeks ago at The Greenbrier Classic he tied for 12th with scores of 66-68-68—68 and followed that up with 65-69-67-65 at the Jon Deere Classic for a solo third. This week in Ancaster he improved on his 6th place finish in last year’s RBC Canadian Open by shooting 17 under par including a record-setting 62 in the opening round followed by a trio of 67’s.
Piercy put himself in to position to win by making birdies on holes two through five in the final round to establish a lead at 18 under par. He gave that lead up to Will McGirt on the 9th hole of the day, with the lead eventually shared though 69 holes by himself, McGirt and Robert Garrigus.
On the 18th hole McGirt needed a par to force a playoff while Garrigus, who had bogied the 16th hole, required a birdie to match Percy’s final score of 17 under par.
When McGirt failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker and Garrigus left his mid-length birdie putt short, Piercy was left standing as the man holding the trophy.
Piercy mentioned afterward that to win on the PGA Tour you need a couple breaks and he managed that on Sunday. It included a key chip-in on the 15th hole.
“You never plan to chip it in on the 15th green on Sunday, second?to?the?last group. There I thought I got a little unlucky with the drive and it didn’t catch the fairway, and then I caught a little bit of a flier out of the rough, and lucky enough, I got a good lie. I had it straight up the hill, maybe a couple on the right, break a little left. And with the perfect lie from 20, 25 feet, you got a good chance of making it. So I was fortunate to see it go in. I didn’t make a putt, it didn’t seem like, the whole day after 3. You know, I was rolling it well, but putts just weren’t falling, so it was nice to see a chip go in.”
Earlier in the week Piercy took a little heat for some remarks about the golf course and how it took the driver out of his hands but it was obvious at the trophy ceremony that he realized that no matter the course, this was a win to be proud of. “I’m honoured to win your National Open.”
As he should be.
For his win, Piercy takes home $936,000 and also received an oil painting of Hamilton Golf & Country Club by Sports Artist Tony Harris of Ottawa.
DeLaet Waves The Flag
It was a less than stellar showing for the twenty-three Canadians in the field this week. Just five made the cut and Weyburn, Saskatchewan’s Graham DeLaet won the Rivermead Challenge Cup as low Canadian with a very average tie for 56th place. In fact DeLaet was not even around to accept the prize at the final trophy ceremony – he was already on a plane. Clearly low Canadian was not the title he was after this week.
“You know, I guess it’s a nice consolation prize. You know, we come in here with higher expectations than just trying to beat the Canadians. We want to beat everyone in the field, but there’s a lot of great Canadians in the field, and I guess I am honoured to be the low Canadian. It’s my first time. So hopefully next year it’s low Canadian and champion, for whoever it is, whether it be myself or any other Canadian,” said DeLaet who was not without kind words for the chance to play in front of a home crowd.
“But it was a great week, a lot of support. I got a lot of comments on my outfit today, and it was just cool playing in front of the home fans, and a little disappointing that I wasn’t able to really get anything going this week, but at the same time, nice to be back home.”
With the potential to move up in the final round the only Canadian to break par was Kingston’s Matt McQuillan with a 69. And that was to earn him a tie for 75th with Matt Hill of Bright’s Grove who closed with 73. David Hearn shot 72 to finish in a tie for 71st at 280, one better than Amateur Albin Choi of Toronto who conjured up a 72 on day four.
Albin Wins Over Fans
If there was a sentimental favourite at Hamilton Golf & Country Club this weekend, it had to be amateur Albin Choi. The twenty-year-old National Team member is as nice as they come and a tremendous talent. Already assured the Gary Cowan Medal for low amateur as the only one who survived the 36-hole cut, the North Carolina State student impressed many with his 72-72 weekend that included plenty of highlight reel birdies.
A couple of Albin’s playing partners for the week, Charl Schwartzel and Matt McQuillan, were very complimentary about the young man and his talents and asserted that he only needed more experience to bring his game to tour-level. That is impressive considering he still has two years left of college.
Choi himself had mixed thoughts on his performance.
“Well, I’m definitely happy that I made it to the weekend. I was hoping for a better two days. I got off to a slow start both on Saturday and today, and I really couldn’t bounce back from it, but overall I enjoyed my time here. Walking up 18 was really cool. Everyone cheered for me on 18, so that was a good experience.”
Overall though, the 2010 Canadian Amateur Champion who had the fans cheering hard all week got a great education over the four days.
Asked to assess his play, he responded. “My ball striking and my short game I feel like is either at par or even better than some of the players out here, definitely. I hit the ball great all week, and my short game was pretty good, too. Just the putter wouldn’t do it for me. I hit a lot of shots close and a lot of putts that just grazed edges, and it’s just a matter of a few falling here and there, but they just weren’t falling for me this weekend, but I’ll work on that, I’ll build on it and just move on. I’ll take a lot away from this week.”
McQuillan Still Searching
With Jon Mills, Brad Fritsch, and Rob Couture all done with play on Friday afternoon, just Matt McQuillan of Kingston, Ontario was left representing Eastern Ontario.
After opening with 70 and 68 McQuillan’s game went cold on Saturday, producing a horrific 77 that sent him to the bottom of the leaderboard. He rebounded a bit with a 69 on Sunday but admitted afterwards that he was still struggling with his game, as he has all season long.
“Yeah, I got some good work done on the range yesterday and got a feeling to go with today and it wasn’t quite one hundred percent but it got me around. It’s been kind of like that the whole year. I find something and it doesn’t really stick week to week. I’m constantly searching and hoping I’m going to find the right thing soon.”
McQuillan, who counts the RBC Canadian Open as only his second PGA Tour cut made this year, will play at the Reno-Tahoe Open next week.