PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Danger lurks around every turn at the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. Scott Piercy became a victim of going wrong every which way in the final four holes to miss the cut at The Players Championship.
'It was just very unfortunate,' said playing partner and 36-hole co-leader Kevin Na. 'I was kind of pulling for him. But it's unfortunate.'
Standing on the 14th tee, Piercy was at even par and on the right side of the cut line. Piercy fanned his tee shot some 40 yards right of the fairway. When he discovered his ball, he found himself inches from a forward tee at the par-4 12th.
As he was hitting his second shot, Tiger Woods approached the tee fresh off of a fourth consecutive birdie. They were going in opposite directions in more than one way.
The approach stayed right with the ball leaning symbolically against a trash can in the pine straw short of the green. Piercy removed the receptacle and brought in a PGA Tour rules official. Acutely aware his ball was lying on a sod seem, Piercy managed to get a free drop. He did not take advantage, however, skulling his third shot beyond the green. Another pitch and two putts later, Piercy had made double bogey and was outside the cut line at 2 over.
On the 15th tee, the line on the tee shot is even tighter. This time, Piercy pulled the ball left. Piercy arrived to his ball to find it on the cart path. Again, a free drop, but Piercy didn't need an official for help. He simply shouted to playing partner George McNeill, 'It's on the path, George,' before taking relief.
Perhaps sensing he needed par, Piercy pulled out a mid-iron trying to execute a low, small hook to get to the green. As he was preparing to hit, a pair of love birds strolled ignorantly up the path toward Piercy – right in the line of fire. After the couple scurried away, Piercy hit a nearly perfect shot to 17 feet and made the birdie putt to get back to 1 over.
Any momentum gained was subsequently lost as he flared his tee shot at the par 5 16th again way to the right. Piercy then pitched the ball down the fairway, leading to a benign par while his playing partners struggled. Na put his ball in the water hazard right of the green but managed par, while George McNeill pulled his approach miles left of the green, nearly into the corporate hospitality tents. Piercy remained one off the cut line.
Then with 2002 Players champion and golfing Houdini Craig Perks watching, Piercy landed his tee shot to the misnamed island-green par-3 17th on the one slip of dry land connecting the putting surface to the mainland. Piercy took a drop from the artificial turf walkway on the neck and played out of the fluffy rough.
With no room for error on a very tight line to the pin, Piercy skied his flop shot well beyond the pin. Three putts later, Piercy had himself another double bogey. Now he was 3 over and, barring a record hole-out from the 18th tee, would be going home.
Piercy made par at the last, but the score was a moot punctuation of a frustrating stretch. The Vegas native will likely leave wondering how his luck could turn on a dime or, more accurately, pine straw.
Na believes his friend and Sin City buddy will rebound.
'I was hoping he'd make the cut and play well on the weekend,' he said. 'But he's a great player. He's going to bounce back and have a lot of good tournaments.'