ANCASTER, Ontario — Scott Piercy used four early birdies and played solid on his back-nine to claim his second PGA Tour title, outlasting overnight leader Robert Garrigus and William McGirt by a single shot to win the RBC Canadian Open at the par-70 Hamilton Golf Club.
Here are 5 Things to take away from this week in Canada:
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1. EARLY BIRDS GET THE WIN: After holding the 18- and 36-hole leads, Scott Piercy was in a different position on Sunday morning – he had to come from behind.
And Piercy made his presence felt immediately, opening his round with birdies on Nos. 2 through 5. He would go on to drop dropped a shot at No. 8 and then went bogey-birdie on Nos. 14-15 to get himself into the clubhouse at 17 under, tied with William McGirt at the time.
After McGirt couldn’t get up-and-down from the bunker at the 72nd hole to fall back to 16 under and Garrigus couldn’t convert on a 12-foot birdie attempt, Piercy would clinch the championship while watching on a TV in the clubhouse.
The San Diego State product nearly went wire-to-wire for the victory, opening with a record-breaking 62 to hold the 18-hole lead and following that with a 67 to lead heading into the weekend. Piercy had two eagles in that opening 62.
“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.”
It was a nice statistical week for Piercy, with 20 birdies (T-3 in the field), 311.3 yards for driving distance (9th) and 1.789 in strokes gained-putting (4th).
The Las Vegas native will not defend his only title of his career – the 2011 Reno-Tahoe Open – because Sunday’s win secured a spot in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone this week. It will be Piercy’s first WGC event of his career.
Piercy will also now play in the Masters for the first time in 2013.
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2. COMING UP SHORT: William McGirt had this tournament in his grasp, holding a one-shot lead heading to the par-4 15th hole. But a three-putt bogey dropped the Wofford College product into a tie with Piercy at 17 under.
After hitting the fairway at the 18th hole, McGirt had a little more than 200 yards into the green and pushed his approach to the right and into a bunker. A poor shot out of the sand left McGirt with about 20 feet for par, and he missed to the left, keeping from a sudden-death playoff.
McGirt has not won on the PGA Tour.
“I would have loved to have won the golf tournament,” McGirt said. “But I played very well all week.”
Meanwhile, Robert Garrigus had plenty of opportunities on Sunday, but could never get his putter going, missing six birdie attempts inside 8 feet, connecting only on a long-distance birdie No. 14. That birdie would be erased by a bogey at No. 16 and his birdie miss on No. 18 – which sat about an inch to the right of the cup – would give him his third second-place finish of the season (Transitions, lost in playoff; Humana Challenge).
“I should have won this tournament by seven shots. Everybody knows that,” Garrigus said. “If I could have just made a putt today.”
Garrigus moves to 19th in the FedEx Cup standings and has earned $2,079,256 this season.
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3. STILL SINGHIN’: Playing Sunday at the AT&T National, Vijay Singh fired a 9-over 81, but it went unnoticed after a big victory by Tiger Woods.
But it seems to have kickstarted Singh’s season.
Singh held the lead at the Greenbrier Classic with an opening 63 and followed that with weekend rounds of 68-69. He finished the Open Championship last week with 30 straight holes without a bogey to finish T-9 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
And the momentum continued this week in Canada, firing rounds of 65-67-69-67 to finish T-7 – including an eagle-2 at the par-4 5th hole on Sunday.
Of Singh’s last 12 rounds, 10 have been at par or better.
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4. TAKING A WEEKEND OFF: There were a handful of players that didn’t make it to the weekend at Hamilton, including Open Championship winner Ernie Els, who missed the cut by three shots. Former Canadian Open champ Jim Furyk was two shots better than Els, but his rounds of 70-70 kept him from playing on the weekend by a single shot.
Canada native Adam Hadwin had a disappointing first two days, firing rounds of 66-74 to also miss the cut by a single shot.
Other big names to miss out on the weekend: Paul Casey, David Duval and Rory Sabbatini.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: A week after winning the True South Classic, Scott Stallings carded an even-par 70 on Sunday to finish at 12 under and in a tie for 7th . . . John Daly continues to play quality golf, firing a 4-under 66 on Sunday to finish T-48 at 4 under overall . . . Kyle Thompson, who made his first cut of the year last week at True South Classic, missed his 15th cut of the season. Thompson has made only $6,660 in 16 starts.