HAMILTON, Ont. — Scott Piercy is discovering that not everything you dislike is bad for you.
After two birdie-filled rounds at the RBC Canadian Open, Piercy found himself holding a share of the midway lead with William McGirt. And he’d seen just about enough of Hamilton Golf and Country Club.
“I will tell you this golf course takes the juices out of it for me,” Piercy said Friday after he and McGirt matched the tournament’s 36-hole scoring record.
It was an unexpected comment from a player who has slept on a lead just six times in his PGA Tour career — including twice this week. After matching Hamilton’s course record with an opening-round 62 on Thursday, Piercy followed it up with a 67 to join McGirt (66) at 11-under 129.
That was one shot better than Robert Garrigus (66), two ahead of Bo Van Pelt (66) and three up on Vijay Singh (67), Tim Clark (62) and Josh Teater (65).
Piercy had a relatively easy time getting around the classic H.S. Colt design over the first two days, but didn’t like the path he had to travel to do it. The tight, tree-lined layout demands precision off the tee and often forces players to play it safe.
“This golf is boring golf for me,” said Piercy. “I’m not going for it, I’m not trying to put my foot on the accelerator. I’m kind of touch and go.”
McGirt was in much better spirits than his fellow co-leader after a round that included a 50-foot birdie putt from the fringe on No. 8. The second-year tour player is chasing his first victory and he’s anxious to see how his game holds up over the pressure of the weekend.
“There are still 36 holes left,” said McGirt. “There is a lot of golf left.”
Even though none of Friday’s afternoon starters could match the score posted by Piercy and McGirt, a handful of more experienced players started to make their presence felt on the leaderboard.
Van Pelt sent up a roar from the gallery after holing out from 143 yards for eagle on No. 9 — his last of the day — while Clark reeled off six birdies and added a holed-out eagle of his own to match the course record with a 62.
“It was obviously a great day for me,” said Clark, a former winner on the Canadian Tour. “I’m excited. It is nice to be back up in Canada, I have some good memories up here. The course suits me well, too, and I’ve enjoyed playing.”
Also lurking was Singh, who is looking for his first PGA Tour victory in four years.
Five Canadian players survived the cut led by David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., who shot a second straight 68 and is seven shots back. Matt McQuillan (67) of Kingston, Ont., amateur Albin Choi (68) of Toronto, Graham DeLaet (69) of Weyburn, Sask., and Matt Hill (69) of Bright’s Grove, Ont., will also be around for the weekend.
Hearn was left hoping the course would start playing a bit tougher in the final two rounds.
“I was steady again today, I just didn’t make quite as many birdies as I would have liked,” he said. “I’m certainly not out of reach for this tournament — guys are shooting 62s and 63s. If I was to get hot tomorrow and put one of those in, you never know what’ll happen.”
The week came to an abrupt end for British Open champion Ernie Els, who earned loud cheers wherever he went but missed the cut with rounds of 72 and 70. The South African was disappointed he couldn’t reward the fans with a performance like he put on at Royal Lytham & Ste. Annes last weekend.
“It’s unfortunate I didn’t have my game with me,” said Els. “There’s always next time.”
The scoring has been better at Hamilton than the last two times the Canadian Open was held here. Rain left the greens soft and receptive, and gave players the opportunity to lift, clean and place their balls in the fairway for both rounds.