One of last guys in field, Scott Piercy opens U.S. Open in red numbers


SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Scott Piercy was one of the last players in the 118th U.S. Open field. He could finish Thursday atop the leaderboard.

On a day when Shinnecock Hills played brutally tough in strong winds, the 39-year-old Piercy, who officially earned his spot in the field on Monday morning as one of the sectional-qualifying alternates, missed just three fairways and carded only two bogeys.

The three birdies he made gave him a 1-under 69, one of only two under-par rounds of the morning wave. (Ian Poulter also shot 69.)

“You know, I didn’t really expect this this morning,” Piercy said.

Piercy said he didn’t have the best preparation for this event. After withdrawing during the second round of last week’s FedEx St. Jude Classic, he started getting ready for Shinnecock. Even though he wasn’t in the field yet, he knew that the Memphis sectional typically has one of the toughest strength of fields, and as the first alternate his chance of getting one of the final six spots in the U.S. Open field was good.

By Wednesday, Piercy’s frustrations came to a head and he walked off the golf course after just four holes.

“I was yanking it, and I lost like five balls in the first four holes,” Piercy said. “I’m like, ‘I’m outta here.’ Then the rain came anyway, so it was kind of a loss for me. But just went home, regrouped, tried to calm my mind down, figure out what makes my golf swing tick.”

Piercy pulled up Instagram on his phone, and looked at some old swing videos and drills. He implemented some of what he saw on the range Thursday morning and found something. He birdied two of his first three holes, holing a 15-footer at No. 10 and draining an 80-footer at No. 12.

“I made a putt that I haven’t made in two years,” Piercy said of his make on the 12th.

It’s also been two years since Piercy contended at a U.S. Open. He tied for second at Oakmont, another tough venue.

“I hit the ball probably the best in my life at Oakmont,” Piercy said.

For much of this season, Piercy has struck it well, too. He ranked 11th in strokes gained: tee-to-green after the AT&T Byron Nelson, the only cut he’s made in his last events. But he’s been in the negative in that category his last two starts.

“Most of the time, ballstriking is my No. 1 thing, right? I’m usually a ballstriker,” Piercy said. “So I know that I can get back there. Sometimes it’s getting out of my own way, kind of like putting the emotions aside and trying to figure out, look, what makes you tick, what are the key things, what are the drills that you do, and that’s what I did last night.

“… I think I lowered my expectations so much yesterday because I had a bad kind of couple days in prep that, you know, I sort of started from the bottom, in my mind.”

Now he’s here.

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