Piercy holds on to win Canadian Open

By Doug FergusonJuly 29, 2012, 9:37 pm

ANCASTER, Ontario – 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.

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Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”

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Harrington: Fiery Carnoustie evokes Hoylake in '06

By Ryan LavnerJuly 16, 2018, 3:45 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – One course came to mind when Padraig Harrington arrived on property and saw a firm, fast and yellow Carnoustie.

Hoylake in 2006.

That's when Tiger Woods avoided every bunker, bludgeoned the links with mid-irons and captured the last of his three Open titles.

So Harrington was asked: Given the similarity in firmness between Carnoustie and Hoylake, can Tiger stir the ghosts this week?


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I really don’t know,” Harrington said Monday. “He’s good enough to win this championship, no doubt about it. I don’t think he could play golf like the way he did in 2006. Nobody else could have tried to play the golf course the way he did, and nobody else could have played the way he did. I suspect he couldn’t play that way now, either. But I don’t know if that’s the strategy this week, to lay up that far back.”

With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?

“The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”