Wednesday, May 6, 2009 | 1:09 p.m.
When he was in high school 15 years ago, Scott Piercy initially thought that if he was going to make a living playing sports, it would be in soccer.
The defender was a key cog in a pair of state championship teams at Bonanza High and was part of a group of players selected to tryout for the Olympic team.
But during the summer before his senior year at Bonanza, he realized soccer wasn’t going to be his ticket to professional sports when he and his club team were overpowered in the Far West Regionals.
“I had just played the best soccer of my life, but it wasn’t good enough. I knew I was done,” Piercy said.
He played that fall for Bonanza before focusing full-time on the sport that had always taken a back seat to soccer — golf.
Piercy mostly golfed during the spring and summer during his childhood but noticed a gradual improvement in his game in high school.
Now, he is competing on one of golf’s biggest stages.
Piercy, 30, will tee off Thursday at The PLAYERS Championship at TPC at Sawgrass-Stadium Course in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. It will be his second appearance in a major — the first coming at last year’s U.S. Open where he missed the cut.
He has made eight cuts in 12 events in 2009 to win $658,099, good enough for 51st on the money list. He played his best golf early in the season, finishing sixth in January at the FBR Open in Phoenix. He was also fifth at the Honda Classic in early March.
“Earlier in the year, I was hitting the ball well and everything was working,” Piercy said.
Piercy turned professional in 2001 after finishing his college career at San Diego State. He earned full-time playing privileges on the PGA Tour for the first time this year after finishing ninth on the Nationwide Tour — golf’s version of Triple-A baseball — in 2008. He won two tournaments in three weeks last year to highlight his breakthrough season.
Piercy’s success hasn’t come as a surprise to his longtime coach. Piercy has worked with Tom Carlson of the Summerlin Junior Golf Academy at Angel Park Golf Club since he was 8-years-old.
“Scott has always been one of the best unknown players in the country,” said Carlson, who is with Piercy at the PLAYERS Championship. “He has won at every level. Now he is at the big dance and he will do fine here. It is just a matter of him putting it all together and having a good week.”
Piercy’s background in soccer indirectly made him a better golfer, Carlson said.
“Soccer really strengthened him as a junior player,” Carlson said. “He is such a good athlete.”
Piercy ranks No. 6 on tour in driving distance at 302.3 yards off the tee — a strength that typically puts him in the position to score low rounds. Now it’s just a matter of time until Piercy breaks through.
“Being a rookie, he is seeing a lot of the courses for the first time,” Carlson said. “Some of the veterans might have 100 practice rounds on some of these courses. It’s still Scott’s first year. He is still finding his way around.”
Ray Brewer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 990-2662.