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Sports >  International sports

Scott Piercy makes most of U.S. Open chance with fast start

Scott Piercy watches his tee shot on the 11th hole during the first round of the U.S. Open Championship golf tournament Thursday, June 13, 2019, in Pebble Beach, Calif. (David J. Phillip / Associated Press)
Scott Piercy watches his tee shot on the 11th hole during the first round of the U.S. Open Championship golf tournament Thursday, June 13, 2019, in Pebble Beach, Calif. (David J. Phillip / Associated Press)
By Josh Dubow Associated Press

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – After missing the cut last week at the Canadian Open, Scott Piercy spent the weekend on his couch hoping that wouldn’t cost him a spot in the U.S. Open.

Piercy ended up getting one of the final qualification spots and now finds himself in good position after taking advantage of an early tee time Thursday to get off to a fast start at Pebble Beach.

Piercy raced to 5-under par in the first six holes and finished with a 4-under 67 after bogeying the 18th hole. He briefly held the clubhouse lead and was one shot back of leaders Rickie Fowler, Louis Oosthuizen and Xander Schauffele after the morning rounds.

“Anytime you can be under par at the U.S. Open is a good thing,” Piercy said. “I got off to kind of a fiery start, which is great, and then tried to hold on there in the middle and tried to make a couple coming in. Overall the putter was there, it felt good. The ball-striking needs to be cleaned up a little bit, so I’ll be on the range for a little while. But 4-under par the first round of the U.S. Open, I’ll take that every time.”

Especially when just qualifying for the tournament was a bit dicey. Piercy went to sectional qualifying in Columbus, Ohio, last week and missed out by one shot on getting into Pebble Beach.

The 40-year-old from Las Vegas still had another route into the tournament as one of the top 60 players in the golf rankings. Piercy was ranked 60th going into the week and went to play the Canadian Open at Hamilton Golf and Country Club, where he earned his second career PGA Tour win back in 2012.

But Piercy missed the cut and had to sweat it out.

“So then you’ve got to sit at home and not root against guys, but hope that they don’t kick you out,” he said. “I was happy to get in and I was happy with the start.”

He ended up at 59 in the rankings and earned the spot into his eighth U.S. Open. He has missed the cut in four of his previous seven trips but also finished tied for second in 2016 at Oakmont.

Piercy went off in the second group of the day off No. 1 and hooked his opening drive and drove into a bunker on No. 2. But he managed to make a great save for birdie on that hole, sparking the fast start.

“That kind of just gives you a little bump of good thoughts and ‘hey let’s get this going,“’ he said. “We kind of stole one, maybe.”

Piercy then added birdies on the fourth and fifth holes before his eagle on six dropped him to 5-under. Piercy then bounced back from a double-bogey on the eighth hole with a pair of birdies on the back nine.

He then made a good par save out of the bunker at the par-3 17th but then ran into trouble on the final hole when he drove it into the rough and hit his second shot into a fairway bunker.

Piercy then left his birdie putt from 25 feet about 8 feet short and three-putted the par-5 18th to finish at 4 under. Piercy also bogeyed the 18th hole here in the final round at the tour event earlier this year, dropping from sixth place to 10th.

“I think I’ve made 6 the last few times,” he said. “Maybe I need to learn how to play it better.”

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