3M Open: Shoeless Scott Piercy fights through foot blister for four-shot lead heading into final round
The 43-year-old held a three-shot lead over Emiliano Grillo after Round 2, and still managed to extend the lead to four via a 5-under 66 on Saturday to move to 18 under for the tournament.
BLAINE, Minn. -- Struggling throughout a less-than-stellar 2021-22 season, Scott Piercy knew he needed change.
So he recently got a new swing coach, a new caddie and a new putter.
Now he might need a new pair of shoes. He may soon be able to afford more than a few pairs.
After a six and a half hour weather delay that separated the third round’s morning action and its evening finish, Piercy stalked the TPC Twin Cities fairways and greens sans a shoe Saturday evening.
He wore a new pair of shoes in the second round Friday, and he said they rubbed his heel to the point where a nickel-sized blister formed.
“Tried to do some stuff (Friday) night to doctor it up to get ready and just every move the shoe made was painful, so I just took it off,” Piercy said.
For about a five-hole stretch, he walked with one shoe on to shots and only put the other shoe on when hitting the ball. And even then, it was not tied to maintain the loosest possible fit.
It was quite the wrench thrown into what looked like a coast job for Piercy to his fifth PGA Tour victory, and first since 2018. The 43-year-old held a three-shot lead over Emiliano Grillo after Round 2, and still managed to extend the lead to four via a 5-under 66 on Saturday to move to 18 under for the tournament.
Grillo is in second place at 14 under after shooting a 67, while Doug Ghim and Tony Finau are tied for third at 13 under. Former Minnesota state amateur champ Tom Hoge is in fifth place at 12-under par.
Piercy bogeyed the ninth — his second hole post-delay — but birdied the 10th to rebuild his commanding lead while in clear discomfort.
“It’s one of those things where it’s like nothing surprises you anymore a little bit. I actually thought about that like on the 12th or 13th hole, like man, what a mental grind this pain is, like this is not what I needed on a long day like this,” Piercy said. “If it was just a normal day, it probably would have been okay, but 12 hours, long rain delay, just not the cherry on top you want.”
Piercy said the bandaging he had on his heel must’ve shifted enough to where the pain eased, because he was able to wear his shoe while walking the final four holes. But the mental grind of the day still had an impact. He said that led to the “tired” swings he put forth down the stretch, including his second on No. 18, which led to a water ball and, eventually, a bogey on the hole. Grillo birdied the 18th to cut Piercy’s six-shot lead heading into the hole to just four going into Sunday’s action.
“It definitely helps, makes my job a little bit easier tomorrow, so I know I just need to go out and play my best and try to catch him,” Grillo said. “He played phenomenal today. If he brings half of his game from today to tomorrow, that’s going to be very tough. Obviously you’re looking at a very low round tomorrow to have a chance, but I’m just going to go out and try to have fun and like I say, try to play my best.”
Piercy entered the week 138th in the FedEx Cup standings with three events to play in the regular season. Finishing outside the top 125 could mean less-than-full status on the PGA Tour next season. But a win Sunday would shoot Piercy up the standings, well inside the top 50, and also grant him a two-year full exemption on tour.
He’s in a good position to do so. It’s up to his feet and his game to hold up for the final round.
“It means a lot,” Piercy said of the opportunity. “I’ve had my struggles and to prove and show that I can still do it … is a big confidence boost.”
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