CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Bryan Pierce hasn't become accustomed to the West Virginia weather, but the eGolf Professional Tour player could grow to like it.
The 24-year-old native of San Luis Obispo, Calif., shot a 4-under 67 for the low round of a rain-delayed U.S. Open local qualifier on a damp, 6,810-yard, par 71 Edgewood Country Club course.
His next step is a spot in the sectional qualifier in Memphis, Tenn., or Columbus, Ohio, where a spot in the U.S. Open on June 13-16 will be at stake. He'll be joined by Drew Ernst of Seneca, S.C., a former Coastal Carolina player and the 2010 South Carolina Amateur champion, as well as Lawrence Largent of Kingswood, Tenn.
Pierce, whose travels have brought him from California, to Kingston, Wash. and finally to Charlotte, N.C., found a benefit from the start of the 18-hole qualifier being delayed an hour.
"My neck stiffened up, so if we didn't have the one-hour delay today, I wouldn't have played," said Pierce, who has played in four U.S. Open local qualifiers and reached one sectional. "It tightened up and it's not really something you can swing through."
Once his tee time came up at 9:50 a.m., Pierce started on No. 10 and was 2-under before his only bogey of the day on No. 15. Three birdies on the front nine brought him to 4-under.
He managed a birdie on No. 5, a dog-leg left that plays about 510 yards from the pro tees, but was moved to the more manageable champions tee between the practice round and the tournament, shortening it by at least 15 yards.
Jonathan Clark, the general manager at Sleepy Hollow Country Club, won the 2012 West Virginia Open at Edgewood by cutting the dog leg.
Pierce did the same during the practice round, but was more than happy to see the tee box change from Tuesday's practice round.
The eagle opportunity was there for the taking, but most players settled for, at best, a birdie, including Pierce.
"I hit a 3 wood just left of that fairway bunker and had about a buck 80 (180 yards)," he said. "They moved the tee up, which makes that a better hole. I hit it to 6 feet, but missed the eagle putt."
His performance on a relatively slow track at Edgewood would spurn Pierce to bigger and better things, but his trek from the West Coast was the start of what he hopes is a long and prosperous golf career.