PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- At one point Sunday, it looked like the course record might be tied or even broken at Oak Hill.
Jason Day and Scott Piercy, each starting the day nine shots off the lead, charged up the leaderboard with one birdie after another.
Day, who has four career finishes in the top 3 in majors, birdied four of his last six holes on the front nine then three of his first four on the back.
Piercy did nearly the same, also going out in 31 before adding two birdies in his first four holes on the back nine.
"It's funny, I tweeted last night I'm thinking 62," Piercy said. "With the birdie putt on 14 to get to 7, I was right on pace. Hit a bad putt there, then came back on 16 and made a birdie."
In the end it wasn't enough.
Day shot 67, bogeying each of his last three holes, while Piercy carded a 65 after a bogey on his final hole.
Still, both rounds were good enough to get them in the top 10 -- for now -- as Day finished his week 3 under and Piercy 5 under.
Scott Piercy is at 2-under 138, the best start to a major of his career. (Redington/Getty Images)
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Scott Piercy was just trying to make pars.
"Pars can never hurt you," he said.
Not when the rain is coming down in buckets. Not when you're drenched, your clubs are wet and the the ground is completely saturated.
Mother Nature wasn't quite as cruel when Piercy started his round. He bounced back from a three-putt on the first hole with a string of three straight birdies that began at No. 4 and had him briefly tied for the lead.
As the rain continued in earnest, though, he played his final 12 holes in 3 over and settled for a 71. Still Piercy is 2 under for 36 holes, which is his best start in nine major championships.
"I was glad I made those three birdies, because from then I was just trying to hang on," Piercy said. "It's one of those times where your equipment is starting to get wet. It's raining so hard, the balls, your club face is getting wet when you are teeing it up and the ball is getting wet so the ball is squirting on you. You start getting mud balls a little bit.
"Then the wind started picking up and swirling a little bit. It wasn't playing easy. The greens are obviously soft now, so if you are in the fairways and have mud on your ball, you are probably doing okay. It got pretty tough there for a while.
"I'm pretty happy with my round. I wasn't very clean, kind of ugly, but overall to be 2 under going into the weekend, I think I'm in a good spot."
Tee times are out for the first two rounds of the RBC Canadian Open, where Scott Piercy is trying to become just the second player in the history of golf's third-oldest tournament to successfully defend his title. The only other player to do it was Jim Furyk, who went back-to-back in 2006 and 2007.
Here's a closer look at the group and other notable groups to watch the first two rounds (all times ET):
Scott Piercy, Ernie Els, Luke Donald: Piercy won this tournament a year ago and also played well in 2011, finishing sixth. Els, meanwhile, has had four finishes in the top six in his last eight starts worldwide. Donald finished third in the event in 2010. They'll tee off at 12:45 p.m. Thursday and 7:30 a.m. Friday.
Woody Austin, Graeme McDowell, Jim Furyk: Austin is coming off his first victory in six years and another strong performance could get him into the FedExCup Playoffs picture. McDowell, who won the RBC Heritage earlier this season, is playing this RBC event for the first time. They'll tee off at 12:55 p.m. Thursday and 7:40 a.m. Friday.
Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson: Kuchar has a half-dozen top 10s this year, including two wins. He also finished fourth in this tournament in 2010. Snedeker enters the week off three straight finishes in the top 20 and he finished fifth the last time this event was played at Glen Abbey. They'll tee off at 7:30 a.m. Thursday and 12:45 p.m. Friday.
Billy Horschel, Dustin Johnson, Hunter Mahan: It has been a breakout season for Horschel, who has seven top 10s, including a first, second and third. He's cooled of late, however, with no finishes in the top 30 in his last three starts. Mahan, who was in the final pairing on Sunday at Muirfield, finished fourth here in 2004. They'll tee off at 7:40 a.m. Thursday and 12:55 p.m. Friday.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
DUBLIN, Ohio -- Scott Piercy learned his lesson last year when he won the RBC Canadian Open.
Just because he didn't get to use his driver as much as he normally likes on Thursday during the first round of the Memorial Tour, he wasn't going to call it "boring golf" again. Instead, Piercy said he was "much more disciplined" and it paid off with a 66 that left him one stroke off Charl Schwartzel's lead.
"I've hit a lot of drivers and kind of pounded down golf courses, and I haven't had much success here doing it," Pierce explained. "I thought I'd hit a lot of 3-woods today and open up the fairways and allow me to get some pins and knock them on the greens and make some putts.
"Maybe I'm getting older."
And wiser, too. Piercy, who has never finished better than 48th at Muirfield Village, only took his big stick out twice on Thursday.
More often than not, Piercy was using the 3-wood he cut down to 42 3/4 inches at the HP Byron Nelson Championship two weeks ago. He flattened it a little, too, so it plays to about 13 degrees.
"Funny, I cut it down and am hitting it so much farther," Piercy said. "... I can hit kind of a stinger ball out there that just goes."
Piercy ended up making eight birdies and dropping just two shots to par on a consistent day where he hit 10 fairways and 14 greens in regulation. Not bad for a guy who ranks 155th on TOUR in driving accuracy and 124th in greens in regulation this year.
Maintaining such self-discpline isn't easy for Piercy.
"I'll take 66 all the time, though," he said. "It's just learning how to play golf courses. I can hit it over almost all the corners here. But I have to hit a perfect golf shot and if I don't I'm not in a very good spot.
"With the wind blowing as hard as it has been, I think it dried the golf course out. I was hitting (the 3-wood) 290 to 310, depending on how hard it was going. So I was still hitting a short enough iron where I felt like I could still attack rather than hitting 3-wood, 5-iron or 3-wood, 6-iron. I still had 3-wood, 9-iron, 3-wood, 8-iron."
After adopting a similar approach at the Crowne Plaza Invitiational at Colonial, where he tied for 26th -- and with the U.S. Open looming large at a somewhat abbreviated Merion layout, maybe this attitude adjustment has come at just the right time.
"It seems like golf courses, when I succumb to it, I play well at those golf courses," Piercy said.
Thursday added more proof.
DUBLIN, Ohio -- Former Masters champ Charl Schwartzel bounced back from a double bogey on his next-to-last hole with a 13-foot birdie putt that earned him the early lead at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance.
The double bogey at the eighth hole stopped a string of four straight birdies but Schwartzel still finished with a 65 that left him one stroke ahead of Scott Piercy. Piercy went on a birdie run of his own, making five straight starting at No. 4 on the way to a 66.
"The birdie on the last definitely will make my evening a lot better," Schwartzel said. "I felt like I played really well, just ... sort of ticking the ball over and got it to 8 under. Just had a bad one on No. 8, made a double. And that was the very worst I played all day."
DUBLIN, Ohio -- Scott Piercy rode a string of five straight birdies to a front-nine 31 that has given him a one-stroke advantage early during the first round of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance.
Piercy, who has won a PGA TOUR event each of the last two years, is 5 under. He made birdie putts of 10, 9, 10 and 5 starting at No. 4, then holed it from 40 feet in the fringe on No. 8.
South Africa's Charl Schwartzel, Scott Stalliings and Cameron Tringale are one back through eight, seven and seven holes, respectively. Stallings, who started on the back nine, was briefly tied with Piercy when he holed a bunker shot for eagle at the 15th hole, but he dropped back into the tie for second when he bogeyed the next.
Josh Teater is alone at 3 under through four holes. Davis Love III, who was named an assistant captain for the Presidents Cup on Wednesday, heads a big group at 2 under that also includes Luke Donald, Billy Horschel, Carl Pettersson, David Ernst, Matt Jones, David Lingmerth, Charlie Wi and Graham DeLaet.
World No. 2 Rory McIlroy is 3 over through eight holes. Tiger Woods, the game's No. 1 player, tees off at 1:16 p.m. ET.
Scott Piercy has won a TOUR event in each of the last two years. (Redington/Getty Images)
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
IRVING, Texas -- Scott Piercy has just teed off to begin his final round at the HP Byron Nelson Championship. Starting three stokes behind Keegan Bradley, Piercy is seeking his third PGA TOUR win in as many years.
He knows he needs to be aggressive on Sunday in order to catch Bradley. But he also knows he'll need to pick his spots at the TPC Four Seasons Resort.
"It's more defense on this golf course than offense," Piercy said. "You can make a lot of bogeys, and it doesn't give you a lot of birdies because because you have awkward lies in the fairways with cross winds and pins that are tucked. It's hard to get the ball close."
Piercy didn't need to get the ball close in shooting a 4-under 66 on Saturday, making two birdie putts outside 45 feet and another outside 30 feet. If his putter remains hot on Sunday, he'll have a chance.
"Going to play steady golf (Sunday) and take my birdies where I can get 'em and eliminate the bad stuff," Piercy said. "If Keegan doesn't run away and hide, I might have a chance."
Piercy has shot 66-68-66 to get to his 10 under total through three rounds. He figures another 68 in the tough conditions Sunday might do the trick.
"If the wind is going to be up as much as they say it's going to be, there is going to be a lot of defense," Piercy said. "So a couple under (Sunday) could go a long ways."
Watch Scott Piercy drain a putt from 45 feet on the 17th hole Saturday.
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
IRVING, Texas -- During an eight-hole stretch in Saturday's third round of the HP Byron Nelson Championship, Scott Piercy rolled in two putts from outside 45 feet, and another from outside 30 feet.
Piercy hasn't sank a bunch of long-distance putts this year -- he ranks tied for 94th on the PGA TOUR in average distance of putts made -- but holing those three on Saturday came at an opportune time, since Piercy moved into sniffing distance of Keegan Bradley's lead entering the final round.
Piercy is at 10 under, three shots off the pace, and will play in the next-to-last group with Tom Gillis.
"It's not often you make a couple of long ones," Piercy said. "When the putter starts going you start making the short ones first. It's hard to hit it close at this golf course with this wind and these conditions, so you have to put it on the green and putt well.
"Today my long putts went in."
Piercy entered this week with little momentum. He had missed the cut in four of his five previous starts and had just two rounds in the 60s since he finished third at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
"My ball striking hasn't been at a point to be in contention," Piercy said. "So I think the ball striking is starting to come around, looks like the putter warmed up a little bit and going to play steady golf tomorrow and take my birdies where I can get 'em and eliminate the bad stuff."
SCOTT PIERCY DIALS LONG DISTANCE IN RD. 3
|Hole||Par||Length of Piercy's putt|
|10||4||Made 45 feet, 2 inch putt for birdie|
|12||4||Made 30 feet, 3 inch putt for birdie|
|17||3||Made 45 feet, 5 inch putt for birdie|
MARANA, Ariz. -- Steve Stricker is one of the PGA TOUR's most understated stars. But the veteran showed a flair for the dramatic on Saturday when he birdied the last two holes to come from behind and beat Scott Piercy 1 up.
Stricker, who turned 46 on Saturday, two-putted the par-5 eighth from 33 feet for the first birdie before he drained a putt from 31 for the win. That was the only time Stricker led in the hard-fought match that started on No. 10.
"It was a tough putt," Stricker said. "It was downhill, downgrain, and he had five or six feet left, and I was just making sure I wasn't going to give myself the same comeback or so. I wanted to make sure I had good speed, but I had a pretty good feel for the line. ... But you don't expect to make a putt like that.
"We both played great, and that's match play. He didn't make a bogey today and neither did I, and neither one of us really deserve to go home. But I'm very excited to be moving on."
Piercy grabbed a 1-up lead three different times during the match and each time Stricker managed to even the proceedings. It took Stricker two holes the first two times Piercy led and four holes the third but he ended up making the putts when it counted.
SCORECARD STATS: Stricker made eight birdies and no bogeys. Piercy made seven birdies and no bogeys. The Accenture Match Play Championship rookie has not made a bogey in his last two matches, in fact.
HOLES WON: Stricker won four holes. Piercy won three holes.
NEXT OPPONENT: Ian Poulter, who beat Tim Clark 5 and 3.
"It's going to be tough," Stricker said. "He's a good match play player. ... But I'm playing well. I like what I'm doing. I like how I'm hitting it. I'm making a lot of putts. I can't give him any holes. That's the key to this match play, I think, is just stay in every hole and make the other guy beat you."