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It sounds like a Ron Shelton screenplay: A go-for-broke Hooters-tour nobody with two kids and a bum wrist, who owes $25,000 on his Visa card, tumbles out of his Fleetwood Expedition to win the largest single-event check in golf history ($2 million)—on his fifth wedding anniversary. But that actually happened to Piercy in 2007, at Wynn Golf Club in Las Vegas.
Maybe he should have felt more angst during the 50-man, winner-take-all Ultimate Game event, because he'd been going nowhere fast on the mini-tours since turning pro in 2001. Pressure? What pressure? "I was free-rolling for two million bucks," says the Vegas native. "That means playing with house money. For better or worse, I tend to play up or down to my level of competition."
His most vivid memory from the stroke-play final against Ken Jarner? "I'm three down with six holes to play, and I thought, I gotta get something going. I get to even with three to play, and on 16 everything changed. Whatever you call it—the zone—it was like I was controlling the ball with my mind, placing it exactly where I wanted. There aren't many times you feel that."
Piercy won by three, and more than half of his $2 million haul went to sponsors, Visa and Uncle Sam. ("Not my favorite uncle," he says.) The money gave Piercy and his wife, Sara, more than financial security and a dazzling FICA score. It gave him time to heal his body and mind. "I had sore tendons in my wrist, and I was mentally worn down from six years on the mini-tours, so I just rested. It started a chain of events that led to getting my card on the Nationwide tour and my ultimate goal of the PGA Tour."
He arrived on the big Tour in 2009, but after a strong rookie season he struggled throughout 2010 and for much of 2011. Then, in the third round of the 2011 Reno-Tahoe Open, something unusual happened: A struggling, winless journeyman ranked 308th in the world rattled off eight straight birdies and shot 61. No one saw it coming, Piercy included.
Somewhere, he found a higher gear, as evidenced by a moon-shot four-iron at the 18th on Saturday that sailed 280 yards and stopped six feet from the hole. "I mean, yeah, it was downhill," says Piercy's caddie, Darren Woolard, "but guys on Tour just don't hit four-irons 280." A final-round 70 was good enough to secure his first Tour win, though it didn't come with a Masters invite.
Piercy wonders if divine intervention helped him raise his first Tour trophy. As he tells it, the year before, in 2010, a close friend's wife became suddenly ill with a blood infection. Instead of having him drive nine hours from Reno to San Diego to see her, Piercy pulled some strings to get his buddy on a jet. His friend called the next day. "Scottie, she didn't make it. But thank you so much for helping me spend those last three hours with her." In 2011, after Piercy's out-of-nowhere 61, the same friend phoned again, asking, "Do you think anyone's watching over you?" Piercy felt chills. On the 72nd hole, his seven-footer for the win was—he's sure of it—a right-to-left breaker. He mishit it left. "But somehow my ball broke right, which it shouldn't have done. Who knows. Maybe I had an angel helping me out."
Piercy and Woolard have been friends since they played junior golf together in San Diego. They like to bust chops. Piercy will pull off a Mickelsonian up-and-down and needle his caddie, "Don't you wish you had that shot?" When Woolard sees reporters interviewing A-listers, he'll say, "Well, I guess you're not good enough yet." If Piercy wants to roll the dice on a risky tee shot, it's a small battle of wills.
Woolard: "I like three-iron."
Piercy, snapping his fingers: "Driver."