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."
MARANA, Ariz. -- Maybe that double bogey from the desert at the first hole set the tone for what wasn't going to be Luke Donald's day. Scott Piercy was just too strong and too fearless as he took down the top seed in the Sam Snead bracket.
Piercy was 3 up after three holes thanks to Donald's double, his own birdie and another bogey from the Englishman. Piercy holed a shot from 228 yards for an eagle at the fifh hole to go 4 up, then won the eighth and ninth with birdie putts of 25 inches and 5 feet to head to the back nine in complete command.
A final birdie, this one on a 4-foot putt, ended the proceedings at the 12th hole. Piercy's upset win over the 2011 Accenture Match Play Championship winner was the most lopsided result of the week to date.
"I actually feel really relaxed out there," Piercy said. "Me and Luke's game are a lot different, and I feel like if I get things going, I've got a good chance of beating him. I played well, and he was off a little bit. That's why it looked so one-sided."
And make no mistake, Piercy, playing in just his second match at the Accenture Match Play Championship, was hitting on all cylinders. He hit 7 of 9 fairways, 11 of 12 greens in regulation and used just 17 putts.
"Scott played very well, I played just very average," Donald said. " I need to drive it well around this course. There's a few forced carries out there, and probably didn't drive it well enough today to put any pressure on Scott. But he was 7 under through 12 and just playing extremely solid, didn't give me really a look.
"I had a few opportunities on the greens, but for whatever reason I was just not making the putts today, and hence I'm going home."
SCORECARD STATS: Piercy made five birdies and an eagle over 12 holes. Donald made two birdies, two bogeys and one double bogey.
HOLES WON: Piercy won seven holes. Donald did not win any.
NEXT OPPONENT: The winner of the match between Steve Stricker and Nick Watney.
MARANA, Ariz. -- Scott Piercy, making his first appearance in the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship, beat veteran Paul Lawrie of Scotland, 4 and 3, in the first round.
Piercy won the first two holes -- making eagle at the par-5 second -- and never trailed. He went 3 up at the turn with a birdie at the ninth, then produced three birdies in a four-hole stretch to end the match.
Piercy, a No. 8 seed, now plays Luke Donald in the second round of the Snead bracket.
To preview the 2013 PGA TOUR season, PGATOUR.COM is counting down the Top 100 Players to Watch in 2013. For an archive page with the top 100 players and for an explanation on how the list was compiled, click here .
2013 PREVIEW: Scott Piercy continued to improve last year, picking up a second PGA TOUR win -- this one with his first invite to the Masters attached. The Las Vegas native isn't rolling the dice anymore. He belongs, and that tie for second at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions shows Piercy is getting more comfortable in the upper echelon.
2012 DEFINING MOMENT: Piercy shot a course-record 62 in the first round of the RBC Canadian Open and the trio of 67s that followed were enough to give him the win, his second in as many years on TOUR. Interestingly, that victory brought a change in travel plans as Piercy earned a spot in his first World Golf Championships, just as the previous year's win at the Reno-Tahoe Open enabled him to make his PGA Championship debut the following week. –- Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ALBERS’ QUICK TAKE: A very emotional player, Scott has a lot of self-confidence. He introduced himself to an announcer a couple years ago and said, "You'll be calling a lot of my shots in the future." I would like to see him more emotionally level during a round but seems to turn frustration into motivation. -- Fred Albers, SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio
BOLTON’S FANTASY OUTLOOK: If he isn't one of your favorite fantasy investments, then we'll never be friends. Posted 14 top 25s among 19 cuts made in 28 starts in 2012. Picked off his second career win and advanced to the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola for the first time. Didn't relent thereafter with a T6 at the Shriners, a T10 at the CIMB Classic (where he closed with a 62) and a T2 at the WGC-HSBC Champions. The birdie machine ranked fifth in final-round scoring average, which speaks to his fearlessness. Invest with confidence and enjoy the ride. -- Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy expert
2012 QUICK REVIEW
Regular Season ranking
Final Playoffs ranking
|Best finish||1st||RBC Canadian Open|
|By the Numbers
Cuts made: 19
Rounds played: 95
Top-10 finishes: 4
Money List rank: 27th
Driving distance: 12th
Driving accuracy: 161st
Greens in regulation: 82nd
Strokes gained-putting: 47th
Scoring average: 45th
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
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By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ATLANTA -- Scott Piercy, who claimed the 30th and final spot in this week's TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, is nothing if not realistic.
"I think Slim's about to leave the building," he said with a smile.
To have any chance win the $10 million bonus, Piercy needs to win the TOUR Championship in his debut. The 67 he shot on Thursday at East Lake left the two-time PGA TOUR winner in good position but the other dominoes that need to fall come Sunday are pretty daunting.
First and foremost, Piercy would need Rory McIlroy, who entered the week ranked first in the FedExCup, to finish 29th or 30th. Considering the fact that McIroy has won three of his last four starts -- which would include the PGA Championship and the last two Playoffs events -- that prospect doesn't seem too realistic.
"Rory's played so well, you should just give it to him. He's so far ahead going into this week,” Piercy said. “... So even if I win -- that's why I'm trying to take the positives. If I win, I finish second. It's still a million and a half for first place, and another $3 million for the FedEx, so I'll take $4.5 million.
“That would be sweet."
Piercy, who won the RBC Canadian Open earlier this year, didn't know for sure he would be playing in the TOUR Championship until Vijay Singh bogeyed three of his last four holes on Sunday at the BMW Championship. He sees his spot among the elite 30 as a stepping stone.
"Getting the doors it opens, and just being part of 30 guys from the whole TOUR, I think it says a lot to where my game has come from, and hopefully going to," Piercy said.