Piercy shoots record 61, claims Reno-Tahoe lead

RENO -- Scott Piercy made sure Steve Elkington didn't steal all the thunder as the 1995 PGA champion made a run up the leaderboard at the Reno-Tahoe Open.

Piercy reeled off eight consecutive birdies to post a 28 on the front nine and eagled the 616-yard closing hole Saturday to break the course record with an 11-under-par 61. The former Bonanza High School standout was at 13-under 203 after three rounds and had a two-stroke lead over Josh Teater.

Elkington, who has 10 career wins on the PGA Tour but none since 1999, was another stroke back after he followed a 65 with a 68. He's tied for third with 2006 Reno champ Chris Riley, a former UNLV star who also shot 68, Pat Perez (65), John Merrick (66), Blake Adams (67) and first-round leader Nick O'Hern (69).

Piercy has won twice on the Nationwide Tour but is winless in three years on the PGA Tour. His birdie barrage on the front nine matched the longest such streak and lowest nine holes in relation to par posted on the tour this season. He was one shy of the course record for nine holes, set by Riley when he fired a 27 in 2008 on what is now the back nine.

Piercy, a 32-year-old Las Vegas native, said he didn't really think about shooting 59, but knew he was one from the tour record nine consecutive birdies Mark Calcavecchia had in the second round of the 2009 RBC Canadian Open.

"It was fun to see the ball go in the hole," said Piercy, 142nd on the PGA Tour money list with $365,162. He has $2.2 million in career earnings.

Piercy said he was frustrated the first two rounds because he hit the ball well but couldn't get putts to drop.

"I told my caddie yesterday if I can keep hitting it well and get a few balls to go in the hole, we might do something special," he said. "I didn't think this, but I'll take it when I can get it, you know?"

Piercy began the day at 2 under, seven strokes off the lead and in a tie for 45th.

The San Diego State graduate parred No. 1 and followed with eight straight birdies, including holing out from about 15 yards in the fairway on the 491-yard, par-4 No. 5. His longest birdie putt was from 20 feet. Four were from inside 10 feet, including a 6-footer on the par-4 ninth.

The streak ended on the par-4 10th when he missed a 27-foot birdie putt. He followed with three more pars -- missing a 10-footer for birdie on the par-5 13th.

"I wasn't thinking 59," Piercy said. "If I would have made the birdie on 13, I might have thought about it a little more."

Piercy followed with consecutive birdies, then made his only bogey on the difficult 464-yard, par-4 17th when he hit into the creek that runs through the fairway.

On the par-5 18th, he drove the ball 340 yards, then hit a 4-iron 275 yards to inside 7 feet before dropping the eagle putt for a 61 -- three better than his previous career best he last recorded at the 2010 Wyndham Championship.

Piercy's consecutive birdies equaled Chris Stroud's streak from Nos. 9 to 16 in the second round of the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico in February. His 8-under 28 on the par-36 front nine tied the 28 that Henderson resident Nick Watney had in the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open in January. Watney also had an 8-under 27 on the par-35 back nine in the third round of the AT&T National in July.

■ CHAMPIONS -- At Blaine, Minn., Peter Senior shot a bogey-free 5-under 67, and John Huston birdied No. 18 for a 68 that left them tied for the lead at 12-under 132 after the second round of the Champions Tour's 3M Championship.

Jay Haas, the co-leader after the opening round, shot 69 and was one shot back.