Tiger Woods received a raw deal from fans and pundits calling for him to withdraw from April’s Masters tournament after Augusta officials received phone calls from viewers complaining about The Drop Heard ‘Round the World. That's the opinion of one of the golfers playing alongside the world No. 1 on that fateful day, anyway, as Scott Piercy recently spoke up about the incident.
Piercy, starting in his first Masters, had a front-row seat to the goings-on at the par-5 15th hole after drawing Woods and Luke Donald as his partners.The two-time PGA Tour winner had no idea until the next morning that there was anything amiss -- when all hell broke loose -- after Tiger clanged his approach shot off the flagstick and into the hazard fronting the 15th green before putting a new ball into play.
"I didn’t give it much thought," Piercy told SB Nation in a phone interview this week.
Piercy was standing near the putting surface when Woods took his controversial drop. He watched his playing partner check out his options, walk back to the spot he believed to be the correct one, drop a ball, and proceed with the round. It was not until he arrived on-site for his third round that Piercy learned what had transpired since each member of the threesome signed his scorecard a day earlier.
The much-dissected incident involved Woods incurring a two-stroke penalty and the insistence of Tiger critics near and far that he disqualify himself from the tourney after he took what turned out to be an illegal drop. The situation eventually took on a life of its own that included Woods’ violation, his televised interview in which he more or less admitted he broke the rules and snitches in the form of CBS’ Masters anchor Jim Nantz and and former USGA and PGA Tour rules official David Eger. After an early Saturday confab with competition official Fred Ridley, Woods was assessed a two-stroke penalty.
The occasion that is now firmly embedded in Masters and Tiger Woods lore should have never have escalated as it did in the eyes of Piercy.
"I don’t think it’s fair that he was put under that much scrutiny, that somebody could call in and penalize him or try to get him disqualified. I think that’s something that needs to be taken out of golf completely," Piercy averred, noting that the best player in the game receives far more camera time than anyone else on the course. "In no way was he trying to cheat. It just brings up questions that make him look bad ... If it was me, nobody would have ever heard about it."
As for this week, the 34-year-old Piercy enters the race for the $10 million jackpot after a T5 finish at the PGA Championship that has him hungry for a third tour victory.
"Having a great Sunday (5-under 65 at Oak Hill) was a big help and a great confidence-builder," Piercy said.
The Las Vegas native is aiming for a win or two in the next couple of weeks as a boost to gain a spot in the season-ending Tour Championship at the end of next month at East Lake ... and a slot on Fred Couples’ Presidents Cup team.
"Freddie Couples is one of the guys that I looked up to as a kid," Piercy said. "It would be a dream come true to play on a team that he captained. I’d like to be able to play my way on to say I earned it and with that I probably need at least one win and probably another top-10, I’m guessing. I’d like to give Freddie some good reasons to pick me if I don’t get on."
Piercy has had a lackluster run at The Barclays (three missed cuts and a T13), but he can only hope that the changes architects Tom Kite and Bob Cupp have made to Liberty National Golf Course since the 2009 playoff contest will suit his game more than the original track did. Piercy was not a fan of the most expensive golf course ever built.
"It didn’t seem like the greens were the right size and shapes for the shots you were hitting in," said Piercy, who planned to get his first look at the layout since 2009 on Tuesday. "It was long, there was too much trouble, the wrong greens -- you’re hitting a 3-iron [where] it was meant for a 9-iron -- mounds in the middle of greens, there were runoffs ... It was overdone [and] kind of tricked up."
Piercy, who leads the league in "smash factor" (the ratio between the speed of swing and ball speed), enters the week ranked 50th in the FedEx Cup standings. He’ll play the first two rounds with former No. 1 Rory McIlroy and Charley Hoffman.