Ancaster, ON – Scott Piercy fired an 8-under 62 on Thursday to take the opening-round lead of the Canadian Open at Hamilton Golf & Country Club.
Piercy's round represented a new course record. Jim Furyk and Brett Quigley had 63s in 2006, the last time Hamilton hosted the Canadian Open.
Greg Owen overcame a double bogey-bogey start on Thursday to go 10-under the rest of the way. He signed for a 7-under 63 and is tied for second with William McGirt.
Robert Garrigus is alone in fourth at 6-under 64.
It was not a happy return to the golf course for Open Champion Ernie Els. The Big Easy, who picked up his fourth major title Sunday at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, triple bogeyed the 11th and shot a 2-over 72 on Thursday.
Piercy began on the 10th tee Thursday and parred his first three holes. At the 13th, Piercy rolled in a 14-footer for birdie, but an errant drive at 14 cost him a bogey.
Piercy reclaimed the lost stroke one hole later when his 10-foot birdie try at 15 found the bottom of the cup. At the par-5 17th, Piercy ran home a 17-foot eagle putt to reach 3-under par.
After four pars around the turn, Piercy took advantage of the only other par-5 at Hamilton. He hit his second to 12 feet at the fourth and poured in his eagle putt to get to 5-under par.
At the short, par-4 fifth, Piercy drove right of the putting surface, but pitched up to three feet. He canned the short birdie putt and two holes later was tied for the lead after his 11-footer fell in the heart of the hole for another birdie.
Piercy parred the eighth and needed a birdie at his last to establish a new course record and take the outright lead. He hit his approach inside 10 feet and drained the birdie putt for a little piece of history.
"Hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens today," said Piercy. "I was rolling the ball well, and obviously you've got to make some putts, too. I hit it solid out there. I think I only missed a couple greens, and ball striking round here with the rough being so penal is a must to shoot well."
Piercy collected his first PGA Tour victory last year. He won the Reno-Tahoe Open opposite the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and has enjoyed a good campaign so far in 2012.
He finished third two weeks ago at the John Deere Classic and tied for fifth at The Transitions Championship in March.
"Overall it's been really solid," Piercy said of his year. "Definitely a couple weeks ago I needed to work on my wedge game, and kind of figured that out and produced at John Deere. I hit some good wedge shots today."
Despite Piercy's round on Thursday, Owen's round was downright amazing. He doubled his first hole, the 10th, then bogeyed 11, but it was smooth sailing from that point.
Owen notched an eagle and eight birdies for his 63.
"I wasn't even sure whether I would be playing this week with my hand," said Owen, who injured his hand Thursday at The Open Championship. "Obviously when I started that way, I'm like, okay, well, not a lot lost because I wasn't sure I would play anyway, but I started playing well, and you know, you just keep moving, just keep momentum going and that's the way it was going."
McGirt bogeyed his second, No. 11, and birdied five of his next seven. He recorded three birdies on his second nine for his share of second.
Former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, Vijay Singh, Troy Matteson, Bo Van Pelt, Jhonattan Vegas, Stuart Appleby and Gavin Coles share fifth at 5-under 65.
NOTES: There was a 20-minute weather delay on Thursday, but the first round was completed...George McNeill withdrew on Thursday...Furyk, who won the last time Hamilton hosted this event in 2006, shot an even-par 70...Defending champion Sean O'Hair struggled to a 5-over 75.