Piercy squeaks out playoffs berth at Wyndham

Scott Piercy during the third round of the Wyndham Championship.

Scott Piercy during the third round of the Wyndham Championship.

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Being No. 125 has never felt so good to Scott Piercy.

The tournament within a tournament to qualify for the start of this week’s FedEx Cup Playoffs was almost as intense as the Wyndham Championship itself. Piercy shot 68 and finished T-8, good enough to survive a wild afternoon of fluctuations in the standings to clinch the final playoff spot.

Piercy played the back nine in 3 under, but missed a 10-foot birdie at the last hole and had to sweat out Scott McCarron’s birdie effort from just off the 18th green. If McCarron made it, he would vault ahead of Piercy. McCarron left it well short, meaning Piercy gets to work another week while McCarron gets to work on his “honey-do” list.

It took “a lot of guts and big heart and just lucky to be there, you know,” Piercy said.

Some might say that the 125th player deserves to compete in something called “the playoffs” about as much as this year’s Baltimore Orioles. But the battle for No. 125 sure added another dose of excitement to a tournament in which seven golfers shared the lead late in the final round.

For much of the day, fans needed an abacus to figure out who was going to make it into the playoffs. When the dust settled, only Piercy played his way into a playoff berth. He finished two points ahead of Jeff Quinney and bumped Chris Stroud – who began the week at No. 124 but missed the cut – from The Barclays this week.

No one had more of a rollercoaster day than John Mallinger, who fired an 8-under 62 and finished at 18 under for the tournament. He started the week at No. 164 in the standings. When he finished his round well ahead of the leaders, he was projected as No. 121. By the time Atwal slipped back into a tie at 18 under, Mallinger could’ve climbed all the way to No. 53 in the FedEx Cup standings had he hoisted the trophy at day’s end. But just as quickly, Atwal got it to 20 under and David Toms snaked in a birdie putt at the last hole to vault into sole possession of second. A four-way tie for third knocked Mallinger back to No. 132.

As he waited out his fate, Mallinger contemplated canceling his 6 p.m. flight home to Las Vegas. In the end, that wasn’t necessary. Instead, he said he may enter some Nationwide events to avoid a lengthy layoff before the Fall Series begins in late September. Meanwhile, Piercy had to book a flight to New Jersey and hoped he could sleep in tomorrow.

Such is the difference between those who will have a chance to play in four playoff events, each with a purse of $7.5 million (plus a lucrative bonus pool), and those who were left on the outside looking in.

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