Scott Piercy wins 'boring' Canadian Open by a shot
Champion had been severely critical of course
The "boring golf" Scott Piercy had to play in the Canadian Open left him so excited when he won that he couldn't describe his feelings.
Instead of smashing his driver and firing at flags, Piercy felt he had to play for position on the classic design at Hamilton Golf & Country Club. It's not his favorite brand of golf, though he could not have been more thrilled Sunday when he closed with a 3-under 67 for a one-shot victory.
Perhaps it was only fitting that he ultimately won with a two-putt par from 50 feet below the hole.
With four straight birdies early in the final round to get into the mix, it was a simple par on the 18th hole that allowed Piercy to tie the oldest 72-hole scoring record on the PGA Tour and outlast William McGirt and Robert Garrigus.
"I've been playing good for a while now, and you just need a couple of good breaks here or there," Piercy said. "I felt like I got a couple of good breaks and continued to play solid, and I'm kind of speechless. I'm really excited to be the champion."
McGirt was atop the leaderboard from the third hole, where he rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt. He looked poised playing in the final group the final two days, his first time in serious contention on tour, until two late bogeys cost him a chance to win, and likely a shot at playing in his first major in two weeks at the PGA Championship.
With a one-shot lead on the 15th hole, McGirt hammered a 45-foot birdie putt some 15 feet by the cup, and made bogey with his first three-putt of the week. Tied for the lead on the 18th, he hit his approach into a deep bunker right of the green, blasted out to 18 feet and missed the par putt to force a playoff.
"I was just trying to make pars and get into the house," said McGirt, who closed with a 69 for his seventh straight round in the 60s.
Garrigus felt even worse.
He had a one-shot lead going into the final round, but he missed a 4-foot birdie putt on the third hole, and it never got much better. Garrigus missed six putts inside 8 feet, the last one for par on the 16th hole that cost him a share of the lead. He missed a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th for a 70.
"I should have won this tournament by seven shots. Everybody knows that," Garrigus said. "If I could have just made a putt today."
Self-deprecating as ever, Garrigus referred to the final hole as a "good effort on 18 with my two shots and then lagged it up there for a nice, second-place finish."
Piercy raised eyebrows among so many proud Canadians when he referred to Hamilton, considered among the best in the Canadian Open rotation, as "boring golf" because it kept him from taking advantage of his power.
Reminded of that comment, with the silver trophy from golf's third-oldest championship at his side, he smiled.
"That was taken a little out of context," he said. "I like to hit driver a lot, and this golf course I felt took the driver out of my hands. I did say, however, that at the end of the week if the score is good, it is exciting. So I'm pretty excited."
The win was timely in so many ways.
Piercy was headed to the Reno-Tahoe Open next week to defend his first tour title. Now, he is headed to Firestone to play in the $8 million Bridgestone Invitational, his debut in a World Golf Championship. He'll start his season in Kapalua again, and then make plans in April for his first trip down Magnolia Lane for the Masters.
"I've always told myself I'm not going unless I'm in the tournament," Piercy said.
Piercy won while sitting in the clubhouse. Right when it looked like he had lost hope with a bogey on the 14th, he chipped in for birdie on the next hole and hung on for pars. He finished on 17-under 263 to tie the tournament record set by Johnny Palmer in 1952 at St. Charles in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Piercy was preparing for a playoff as Garrigus lined up his putt. He heard the news on the radio before the TV signal showed Garrigus missing.
"Having to birdie the last hole to get in the playoff ... that's all I can ask," Garrigus said. "I just left it a bit short, and I'm sure I'll be thinking about that one."
Piercy ran off four straight birdies starting on the second hole, a streak that concluded with consecutive two-putt birdies. He reached the par-5 fourth hole in two, and then drove the 296-yard fifth hole.
In what amounted to a three-man race on a warm, sunny day at Hamilton, Piercy looked as if he took himself out of the hunt when he ran into trouble off the tee at the 14th, had to play out of the trees and make a 6-foot putt to escape with bogey. But he answered that bogey by chipping in for birdie on the 15th, and then hung on for pars.
McGirt took the outright lead by using a hybrid to chip from behind the ninth green, the ball rolling into the cup for an unlikely birdie. McGirt was steady from there until his three-putt on the 15th, and the approach on the final hole.
The small consolation for McGirt is that he won't have to return to Q-school. His tie for second secures his card for next year, and he is all but assured getting into at least two of the FedEx Cup playoff events.
"I would have loved to have won the golf tournament," McGirt said. "But I played very well all week."
Garrigus might have wanted to break that long putter, which cost him dearly. He missed a 4-foot birdie putt on the third hole, and that summed up his round. He missed from 7 feet for birdie on the fourth and the eighth holes, and then missed from 8 feet on the ninth and badly missed a 4-foot birdie putt on the 238-yard 13th after one of his best tee shots of the final round.
But he hung around, and when a 25-foot birdie putt finally fell on the 14th, he mockingly pumped his fist to celebrate. That left him one shot out of the lead, but he gave it back with another miss on his par putt at the 16th.