Piercy, Garrigus eliminate remaining top seeds
MARANA, Ariz. – Pressure? Try playing for a $2 million prize when you have a $25,000 balance on your credit cards. Such circumstances make a second-round match at the WGC-Accenture Match Play seem easy, regardless of the opponent.
Scott Piercy’s last match-play experience came at the 2007 Ultimate Game, where he won that seven-figure prize while still grinding on golf’s mini-tours. He’s among the world’s elite now, a fact confirmed by his first appearance at The Golf Club at Dove Mountain. He advanced to the third round with a 7-and-6 victory over Luke Donald on Friday.
All four No. 1 seeds have now left the building, or in this case the Ritz-Carlton. Donald, the 2011 Match Play champion, followed Thursday’s first-round losses by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. Louis Oosthuizen was the last No. 1 to fall, losing, 3 and 2, to Robert Garrigus on Friday afternoon. Only two of the top 15 players in the Official World Golf Ranking remain at Dove Mountain: No. 10 Bubba Watson and 13th-ranked Ian Poulter.
“When somebody is on, they’re on,” said Piercy, No. 37 in the Official World Golf Ranking. That explains how Piercy and Garrigus, who have a combined three PGA Tour victories, dispatched of Donald, a former World No. 1, and Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open Championship winner, respectively.
The two No. 1 seeds fell to confident bombers who paid their dues in the minor leagues before winning on the PGA Tour. Consider these sound bytes from Friday’s victors. Piercy, a two-time PGA Tour winner said, “My personality, I want to beat you. I think I’m better than you.” Garrigus later said, “I felt like I was playing better than anybody coming in here. . . . I looked at all the guys in my bracket and I was like, ‘I can beat him, I can beat him, I can beat him.’ ”
Garrigus and Piercy are making their debuts in this event, but Dove Mountain’s wide fairways and match play’s forgiving nature are well-suited for these long hitters. Garrigus said he has been looking forward to this event for several years for the very reason that a foul ball can mean only a lost hole, not a week-wrecking triple bogey.
“It’s an absolute blast to be able to step on the tee and say, ‘I’m going to swing as hard as I can, and if I make a 9, who cares?’ ” Garrigus said. “It’s a fun, fun format. I think it’s a blast.”
Garrigus’ last match-play experience before this week came at the 1995 Oregon Junior, when he beat Michael Wiemer, 7 and 6, in the championship match. Garrigus said he was 9 under for those 12 holes.
He had eight birdies in 16 holes Friday. Piercy had five birdies, as well as an eagle at the par-4 fifth, holing out a 4-iron from 221 yards.
He birdied five of the final six holes to win the Ultimate Game’s ultimate prize five years ago. “At the time, when I was dead broke, there was probably a lot more stress than there is now,” he said. That’s why beating a No. 1 seed looked so simple Friday.