Piercy's grip good enough for victory
Scott Piercy is one of a handful of players on the PGA Tour with a 10-finger grip. In fact, since Bob Estes went to something else a few years back, Piercy is the only guy that I know of who still uses it.
Most players either use an interlock grip or the overlap grip. Earlier this year I developed a nasty blister on the knuckle of my left index finger that made it painful for me to use the interlocking grip. So one March morning before heading out to Bay Hill for the Arnold Palmer Invitational, I hit some balls using the 10-finger.
My friends and a few swing instructors on tour told me that I would hit the ball left with the grip. Rick Smith, Phil Mickelson's former teacher, tried to get me to use a modified overlap that wouldn't put any pressure on that bleeding index finger.
I had heard from my colleague, Michael Collins, that Piercy had used the 10-finger all of his life and that he hit a draw. Collins knew because he had caddied for Piercy.
I caught up with Piercy at dinner one night during the Players Championship to ask him about this grip. The 33-year-old Las Vegas native told me that the grip had felt right to him from the very first time he put his hands on a club. And that he never had a problem hitting the ball left.
His assurances about the grip haven't cured my pulls, but my confidence in Piercy and his use of it have grown stronger after his win on Sunday at the RBC Canadian Open. It was his second career PGA Tour win. Last year, he won the Reno-Tahoe Open.
On Friday, Piercy, who shared the 36-hole lead with William McGirt, had upset many Canadians when he called the setup at the Hamilton Golf and Country Club "boring."
"This golf is boring golf for me," Piercy said. "I'm not going for it. I'm not trying to put my foot on the accelerator. I'm kind of touch and go."
By Sunday afternoon, he was still a bit uncomfortable with the course, but he was obviously very pleased to win Canada's biggest tournament.
"I like to hit driver a lot, and this golf course I felt took the driver out of my hands," Piercy said. "So it's a mentality a little bit. I did say, however, that at the end of the week if the score is good, it is exciting."
Piercy did all of his work on the front nine, where he had four consecutive birdies. On the back, he shot even par. It's hard to remember a time when the winner of a non-major did so little coming down the stretch to win a tournament.
It made for pretty boring golf, but his 3-under-par 67 on Sunday and 17 under par total was good enough for a win.
Piercy's victory probably won't inspire parents to choose the 10-finger grip for their kids, but at least those watching the Canadian Open on Sunday will know that you can win with it.
The long and short of it
Robert Garrigus wants everybody to know that he should have won the RBC Canadian Open by a touchdown. He knows you know it, but he needs to remind you.
"You know, I should have won this golf tournament by seven shots," Garrigus said after finishing in a tie for second. "Everybody knows that. If I could have just made a putt today. It just wasn't starting on my lines. I hit a couple too firm and then I hit a couple too soft. I just couldn't get the feel for it."
Garrigus missed a 14-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole that would have gotten him into a playoff with Piercy.
Garrigus, who got his lone tour win at the 2010 Children's Miracle Network Classic, famously used a 28½ inch putter before switching to a long putter.
The 34-year-old, long-hitting Oregon native is still struggling to find the right flat stick for his game. Once he finds a length and weight for his putter that suits his game, he might become a more consistent presence on leaderboards. He is ranked 163rd on tour in the strokes gained-putting stat.
Couples nabs Senior British Open
In 17 Open Championships, Fred Couples had nine top-10s. He came very close to winning on a couple of occasions. In 1991 and 2005, he tied for third at the championship. The only major he played better was the Masters, where he won in 1992.
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Now he finally has an Open Championship -- the Senior Open. On Sunday, the 52-year-old Seattle native beat Gary Hallberg by 2 shots at Turnberry in Scotland.
It's not the same as the real thing that Ernie Els won at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, but it's big for Couples, who has had eight wins since joining the Champions Tour in 2010. Couples was always supposed to win with his otherworldly talent. He did get 15 regular tour victories, but it always seemed like he should have won more, a lot more.
For years after he won the Masters, it seemed unfathomable that he wasn't a bigger winner and that it didn't seem to bother him. He didn't go around with his head hanging low about not winning this or that tournament.
He was laid-back Fred.
He's still that way but he's morphed into a gray-haired, rich bachelor who might get cast in a romantic comedy with Meryl Streep if the director was looking for a pro golfer with some cachet with the kids, who still keep him on speed dial because he's a hot commodity as a popular Presidents Cup captain.
This win at Turnberry, though, mostly makes me think about what could have been in Couples' regular tour career at the Open and in other majors. On Sunday, he shot a 3-under 67 in some very difficult weather. I would have loved to have seen him do this at Turnberry in 1986 or 1994.
"I've never won an Open Championship, so this is the next best thing. And I believe I now get into the [British] Open at Muirfield next year, which is great," Couples said. "It was a fun day out there."
So he's headed back to the real thing in 2013 for the first time since 2006, when he missed the cut at Royal Liverpool. He still has the game to on occasion beat the best players in the world. That's if his sometimes ailing back and shoulders cooperate for four days.
Don't be surprised to see him in contention at Muirfield. He knows now that he can win an Open, even if it's not the one he should have won in his prime.
In January, William McGirt was worried about getting into events. The 33-year-old Fairmount, N.C., native had gotten his PGA Tour card back at Q-school in December, after finishing 141st on the money list in 2011 in his rookie year.
McGirt didn't like the tour's proposal to end Q-school as a direct route to the PGA Tour. Q-school, where he finished in a tie for 13th, had given him a chance for redemption on the big tour.
The former Wofford College star had started the season 31st on the reshuffle list, a category of players that get into events after they have been filled with past winners and the top 125 off the previous year's money list. For McGirt this meant that even though he had a full tour card, he wasn't ensured of a spot in every regular event.
He came into the RBC Canadian Open 14th on the reshuffle list after a tie for fifth at the True South Classic. And at the Hamilton Golf and Country Club outside Toronto, McGirt nearly got a win, a two-year exemption and a trip to the Masters. But he bogeyed the 72nd hole to fall out of a tie for the lead at 17-under par with Scott Piercy, who with the victory took his second career tour win. McGirt tied for second with Robert Garrigus.
"My No. 1 goal coming into this week was to make sure I locked up getting in the playoffs," McGirt said. "My second goal was to make sure I locked up my card. I accomplished both of those today. I would have loved to have won the golf tournament, but I played very well all week."
Piercy would take control of the tournament with a 3-under-par 32 on the front nine. McGirt had started the final round a shot off the lead held by Garrigus. Though he had two costly bogeys on the back nine, McGirt's biggest blunder coming down the stretch perhaps was his failure for a third straight day to birdie the easy par 5 17th. On Thursday, a four on No. 17 had been one of his eight birdies en route to a first-round 63.
Still, it was a career-best finish for McGirt, who with the $457,600 check in Canada will easily complete the 2012 season inside the top 125, hopefully staying off the reshuffle list, and out of Q-school, for good.
Gulbis: Future major champ?
Over the past decade, Natalie Gulbis has played many roles. She's posed in a swimsuit calendar, hosted a reality TV show and been a contestant on "Celebrity Apprentice." For the LPGA Tour, she's represented a sex symbol in the vein of Jan Stephenson and Laura Baugh. But the one role the 29-year-old Las Vegas resident hasn't mastered is that of a top-tier player.
Gulbis' swing -- a fit of twisting, dipping and sliding -- probably won't ever lead her to much consistency, but that's beside the point. She's a star.
Her only LPGA Tour win came at the 2007 Evian Masters, where she beat Jeong Jang in a playoff. Gulbis was back in France this past week as was the rest of women's golf for what was the last year of the event as a regular co-sanctioned tournament on the Ladies European Tour and the LPGA Tour.
In 2013, the tournament held in Evian-Les-Bains, France, will become a major, joining the Kraft Nabisco, the Wegmans LPGA, the U.S. Women's Open and the Ricoh Women's British Open as the women's game's top five most prestigious events.
The Evian Masters was already one of the glamour stops in women's golf, drawing perhaps the best field in the sport, a Players Championship for the ladies. Now it's a legitimate major with the strong financial backing of the Evian and Societe Generale, a French investment bank.
Gulbis' tie for fourth Sunday at the Evian was her best finish since winning the event in 2007. Her off-course earnings from TaylorMade, adidas, Lexus and Canon, to name a few, easily dwarf the $4.4 million she has made on the course. But she held her own against the best players in the world on the Evian Masters Golf Club. In her final-round 4-under 68, she had seven birdies, including five on the back nine.
Inbee Park also had five birdies on her inward nine to shoot 66. Park, who would win by 2 shots over Karrie Webb and Stacy Lewis, has been for the past three months the best women's player in the world. Evian marked her fifth consecutive event in the top 10. In 2008, the 24-year-old South Korean won the U.S. Women's Open.
Her emergence comes as Yani Tseng, the No. 1 player in the world, continues to play poorly. Since winning her third event of the year at the Kia Classic in March, she hasn't had a victory and has missed two cuts, including this week at Evian.
Gulbis might not have Tseng's five major championships and 15 LPGA Tour wins, but in France she beat the top ranked player in the world and many other very good players. Her strong record at the tournament has to make her a favorite in 2013 in the event's first year as a major.
Gulbis and major champion. A few weeks ago I never would have put those two words together. But now that could become a reality at a venue that she loves dearly.
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