Gainey – McGladrey
By Mike Blum
Given what has transpired on the PGA Tour in 2012, the unexpected conclusion to the
recent McGladrey Classic should not have come as that big a surprise.
No one saw Tommy Gainey’s final round 60 coming. But having a player come from
seven shots behind after 54 holes to win was a fairly routine occurrence this year, but not
nearly as routine as a third round leader (or leaders) failing to close the deal.
Jim Furyk and hometown favorite Davis Love shared the lead going to the final round,
but neither veteran was able to withstand Gainey’s blistering finish.
Playing in the last group, Love and Furyk began the final round two strokes ahead of
their closest pursuers and seven in front of Gainey. The two were on the seventh hole
when Gainey completed his sensational round, which put them in a position of having to
shoot 67 to get into a playoff and 66 to win.
Considering that both players had shot either a 65 or 66 in all three of their rounds, a 66
or 67 was certainly within reach. But neither was able to muster much of a challenge,
something that could have been said about the 16 players in the last eight groups the final
The best score among those 16 players was a 67 by Chad Campbell. There was,
however, one player who managed to make a serious run at Gainey.
David Toms, who was midway through the back nine when Gainey posted his 16-under
total for 72 holes, ran off four birdies in a 5-hole stretch on the front nine and was 11-
under for the tournament with six holes to play.
By the time Gainey parred the 18th hole for his 60, Toms had birdied the 13th, but faced
the daunting task of needing birdies on each of the last four holes to tie Gainey. Toms
birdied 15, 16 and 17 to give himself a chance of taking Gainey to a playoff, but a poor
drive into the fairway bunker at the 18th prevented him from reaching the demanding par-
4 in two.
Toms’ pitch shot from well short of the green settled within a few feet of the cup, leaving
him one behind Gainey after a closing 63.
Love and Furyk both were in position to catch Gainey on the closing holes.
A three-putt bogey by Love at the 14th, his second three-putt of the day, left him three
behind Gainey with four holes to play. He reached the par-5 15th in two and made birdie,
but pulled his tee shot into the water at the par-4 16th, with his double bogey on the hole
dropping him into a tie for 4th at 268 after a 71.
Furyk, as he tends to do, plodded his way around Sea Island Golf Club’s Seaside course.
He wedged his way to birdies on the two par 5s on the par-70 layout and made pars on
every other hole, leaving him one behind Gainey standing on the 18th tee.
After a 308-yard tee shot in the fairway left him only 162 yards to the hole, Furyk missed
the green to the right and wound up with bogey to drop out of a tie for 2nd with Toms.
Furyk shot a 69, the same score he shot in the final round at Firestone, where Keegan
Bradley closed with a 64 to turn a 4-stroke deficit after 54 holes into a 1-shot victory.
It was the third time this year that Furyk was unable to maintain a lead after 54 holes. He
shared first place with Graeme McDowell going to the final round of the U.S. Open, but
shot 74 to finish T4, making bogey on the final hole when he needed a birdie.
After waiting more than two hours, Gainey had his first PGA Tour victory, the 10th time
this year a player had come from at least four shots off the lead after 54 holes to win.
Early in the season, three players came from at least seven shots back to win in a five-
week span. The most prominent comeback/collapse since then came in the British Open,
when Adam Scott coughed up the lead, enabling Ernie Els to erase a 6-stroke deficit.
Gainey was an unlikely winner, but no more unlikely than some of the other players who
had pulled off comparable comebacks this season.
One week after blowing a comfortable lead in San Diego, Kyle Stanley closed with a 65
in Phoenix to win after trailing by eight going to the final round.
Rookie John Huh was seven back after 54 holes in the Mayakoba Classic, but shot 63
and won a marathon playoff. Marc Leishman came from six back of co-leaders to win in
Hartford thanks to a closing 62, and rookie Ted Potter fired a final round 64 to erase a 4-
stroke deficit and won a playoff at the Greenbrier.
Unlike Huh and Potter, Gainey is not a rookie, having completed his fourth season on the
PGA Tour. He nearly won in his rookie season in 2008, losing in a playoff to Love in the
That runner-up finish enabled Gainey to return to the PGA Tour in ’09. But he lost his
status and spent 2010 on the Nationwide Tour, where he won twice and finished 4th on
the money list.
Gainey was back on the PGA Tour in 2011 and continued the momentum from his strong
Nationwide showing the previous year. Powered by four third-place finishes, Gainey
ended the year 35th on the money list with more than $2 million.
Finally established as a PGA Tour member, Gainey struggled for most of the 2012
season. Of the first 30 tournaments he entered he finished higher than 30th just three
times. A distant 3rd place finish in the Colonial kept him afloat, and he came into the
McGladrey Classic 106th on the money list.
“It’s been a struggle all year,” Gainey said after his victory. “I hit it pretty well the first
three days, didn’t make many putts. Today, putts just went in and that’s why I shot 60.”
Gainey had a long time to wait after finishing his round, and recognized the gap in career
accomplishments between himself and his three main pursuers.
“I shot 60 today and you got Jim Furyk, Davis Love and David Toms – future Hall of
Famers – chasing me. I was just waiting, and I mean I was nervous. When you got guys
like Love, Furyk and Toms coming at you, you might want to pay attention.
“It just worked out for me and I’m very proud to be here right now.”
Gainey won on several mini-tours and twice on the Nationwide Tour in 2010. But prior
to his win in the McGladrey Classic, he was best known for his appearances on Golf
Channel’s “Big Break.”
With his unorthodox swing, distinctly Southern personality and use of two gloves that
gave him the now-familiar nickname that mirrors his initials, Gainey became one of the
show’s first quasi-celebrities.
After almost a decade on the mini-tours, Gainey made it through Q-school in 2007 and
debuted as a PGA Tour rookie in ’08 with just five combined Nationwide/PGA Tour
starts the previous year.
A disastrous rookie season had Gainey doubting his future in the sport, but he salvaged
the year with his play in the last event of the season. A 64 in the final round of the Disney
Classic put Gainey in position to win, but Love matched his 64 to edge him by one
The almost $500,000 paycheck sustained Gainey through a difficult 2009 season, and
a strong showing earlier this year in the Colonial kept him going until his spectacular
Sunday finish in the McGladrey Classic.
Gainey played respectably the first three rounds with scores of 69-67-68, and began the
final day seven shots off the lead of Furyk and Love in a tie for 29th.
Three times on the first five holes, Gainey hit his approach to seven feet or closer. He
made two of the three putts for birdies, offsetting his one miss with a 40-footer on the
par-3 third. Gainey turned in 4-under after a birdie at the ninth from a fairway bunker,
and got to 5-under on the day with a 10-footer at the 11th.
At that point, Gainey was still two behind Love and Furyk, who were just beginning their
rounds. Gainey rolled in birdie putts of 12 feet on 13 and 20 feet on 14 to pull into a tie
for the lead, and holed a greenside bunker shot on the par-5 15th to move two in front.
Another 20-footer, this one at 16, concluded Gainey’s 5-under-for-4-holes stretch, and he
parred the final two holes for a course record 60, carding a 29 on the back nine.
“All I did all day was try to make a lot of birdies. Because when you’re seven shots back,
your chances of winning a PGA tournament with the leaders Davis Love and Jim Furyk,
it’s not in your favor.”
The tournament featured a revolving door of leaders until Gainey’s final round explosion.
Youngster Bud Cauley and journeyman Marco Dawson shared the first round lead at
62, with Boo Weekley heading up a trio at 64. Toms and locals Love and Zach Johnson
opened with 65s.
Arjun Atwal shot 63 to take the 36-hole lead at 130, one ahead of Love and Furyk and
two in front of Toms and Cauley, who fell back with a 70. Dawson plummeted to 75. The
cut came at 1-under 139 with 88 players advancing to the weekend.
Love and Furyk both shot 66 on Saturday to tie for the lead at 13-under, two ahead of
Atwal and D.J. Trahan. Cauley was 5th at 10-under, with Georgia natives Will Claxton
and Charles Howell among a group at 9-under.
Howell, who closed with a 62 on the Seaside course two years ago to tie for 6th, was 4-
under for the day and within three of Gainey after birdies at 10 and 11. But he three-
putted three times on the next six holes and wound up tied for 7th at 11-under.