Scott Piercy made some changes to his game this week and they paid immediate dividends.
The 46-year-old Piercy (pictured), who has not finished in the top 10 in 24 starts this season, posted a 6-under-par 65 to share the first-round lead with Sungjae Im of South Korea after the first round of the 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, Minn.
“Sometimes you just, you’ve got to make a change to get better,” said Piercy, who has three individual titles on the PGA Tour, but none since the 2015 Barbasol Championship. “And I don’t like to change, so for me to have all these changes is a good thing, but it’s a little bit scary, but I feel comfortable with it.
“With the winds being across and swirly, I felt like I hit good solid shots into conservative parts of the green. I felt like I didn’t have very difficult putts even though they were long.”
Piercy, who was using a new driver and putter in addition to making some changes to his swing, sank 151 feet 4 inches of putts and made birdies on three of the first six holes before he had his only bogey at No. 9, and added four birdies on the first five holes of the back nine.
The highlights for Piercy, who shot a career-best 62 in round one of the 2019 3M Open but wound up in a tie for 15th, were a 32-foot birdie putt on the third hole, a 27-footer on the 10th and one from 31 feet at No. 13
Im birdied four of the last six holes on the front nine, made his only bogey at No. 13, and added three birdies heading home in his 65. He made a 23-foot birdie putt at No. 7 and a 26-footer at No. 9, before saving par on the final hole after hitting his drive into the water.
“It was a good score (on the last hole),” Im, who earned his second PGA Tour victory earlier this season in the Shriners Children’s Open, said through a translator. “The momentum at 18th hole made a good rhythm for me, a good tempo and I had a good score (31) on the back nine.
“The crosswind was very tricky and sometimes you had to make a two- or three-club adjustment because of the wind. You just had to make your decision, go with it, and hope you guessed right.”
Tony Finau, one of the tournament favorites, three-putted the first hole for his lone bogey but then made four birdies on the front nine en route to a 66 and is tied for third with Emiliano Grillo of Argentina and Doug Ghim, who both played bogey-free, and Tom Hoge and Brice Garnett, who both only made a single bogey.
Ricky Barnes of Stockton shot 67 despite a double-bogey 6 on the 15th hole and is in a big tie for eighth with David Lingmerth of Sweden, who was bogey-free, Adam Hadwin of Canada, Chesson Hadley, Peter Malnati, Patton Kizzire, Jared Wolfe and Robert Streb, who made a five-foot eagle putt on the 18th hole.
Jason Day of Australia, the former No. 1 player in the world who has struggled in recent seasons because of injuries, is tied for 23rd at 70, 2019 3m Open champion Michael Thompson totaled 72 and is tied for 51st, and defending champion Cameron Champ of Sacramento holed out from 57 yards on the 18th hole to salvage a 75 and is tied for 106th.
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