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Tommy Gainey's different
By Neville Leck Last updated: 23rd October 2012
Sunday's PGA Tour winner Tommy 'Two Gloves' Gainey is not your everyday 20-something upstart who charges in from nowhere to grab his maiden US title.
Indeed, he is anything but.
The balding, 37-year-old South Carolina native is something different altogether - and his nickname, 'Two Gloves', gives you a strong hint of that.
Using what has been referred to as 'a home-made swing', Gainey plays every shot in every round, from the tee and all the way through to his final putt, with two black gloves.
And unlike so many of America's tournament-winning professional golfers who use only one glove from tee to green, and no gloves at all on the greens, Gainey was never recruited into the US College system - despite a high school career that matched a good few of those who did make it.
Instead he attended a technical school and began work on an assembly line at A. O. Smith, wrapping insulation on water heaters.
At the weekends his unusual but effective swing earned him a reputation for being something of a 'hustler' and it wasn't too long before his success there persuaded him to "have a go" at pro golf on the mini tours.
He won Golf Channel's 'Big Break' TV contest in 2007 and the $25,000 that went with it further boosted his dream of playing 'big time' golf.
Later in the year that became a reality when the then 32 year-old was able to qualify for the PGA Tour at Q-School.
Life for him on the PGA Tour was not going to be an easy one, though.
After a string of missed cuts, he lost his Tour card in 2009 and thought deeply about quitting the game, but he stuck with it and won twice on the then Nationwide (now Web.Com) Tour before fighting his way back on to the PGA Tour.
Last year, at 36 and still no more than a Tour journeyman, he once more had doubts about his future in golf, despite having picked up "a handful" of top-five finishes, and it was late in the season at the US PGA Championship that, from out of the blue, Jim Furyk, whose own swing can hardly be described as classic, invited him to join him in a nine-hole practice round.
During the round, Furyk, a Ryder Cup player, a US Open champion and 16-time Tour winner, insisted that Gainey had "the game to win" and told him that if he believed enough in himself, kept his chin up and kept trying, sooner or later it would happen.
And it certainly did on Sunday when 'Two Gloves' Gainey sensationally won the McGladrey Classic at Sea Island in Georgia, this quite ironically at the expense of third-round joint leaders Furyk, the very man who helped inspire the win, and Davis Love III, his Carolina boyhood hero.
It was perhaps, fitting too, that unconventional Gainey, would claim his maiden US PGA Tour victory in an unconventional manner for not too many first-time winners have done it at the ripe old age of 37 and only three have triumphed with a closing round of 60 - a stunning 10-under par-score that would take Gainey from 29th place and seven shots off the pace at the start of the day to one of the most stunning victories of the season.
Gainey netted seven consecutive 3s from the 11th to the 17th hole in his total eight-birdie, one-eagle catch-of-the-day and then came desperately close to joining the rare breed who have posted 59s on Tour when his long, snaking putt on the par-three 17th rolled just wide and his on-line putt at 18 pulled up short.
But all that mattered not on the day, for he was so over the moon with his breakthrough win that would earn him a biggest-ever pay-check of $720,000 and clinch a two-year Tour exemption.
"It feels like I'm in a dream," Gainey said after his closing 16-under 264 had put him one shot ahead of former PGA Champion David Toms and two in front of Furyk.
"I'm just waiting for somebody to slap me upside the head or pinch me or something to wake me up."
He had indeed whisked up a dream round, highlighted by the fact that even when for once, a bogey loomed at the par-5 15th where his second shot had found the greenside bunker, he was able to blast out, land his ball on the fringe of the green and see it roll into the cup for a magical eagle three that would wrap up his victory and put him just one shot away from some more history.
"Actually, I wasn't thinking about a 59," Gainey said afterwards. "All I did all day was just try to make birdies and a lot of birdies because when you're seven shots back, your chances of winning a PGA Tour tournament, especially with leaders like Davis (Love III) and Jim (Furyk), don't bide in your favor, man."
Gainey had to wait two hours to be declared the winner, but the wait was well worth it. It ended the most thrilling day of his life.
It's certainly not the kind of day anybody can forget.
Here are some more random facts about Gainey's triumph:
• Before his victory on Sunday, Gainey's lowest round this season was the 65 he shot at the RBC Canadian Open. In previous seasons on the PGA Tour he had shot two 63s , so he has always had the ability to go low.
• Though injury free again, Gainey has suffered this season with a host of minor wrist and elbow injuries and in his last five starts before this week, his best finish was a tie for 38th at The Barclays.
• He has made 31 starts this season and made 17 cuts, his third-place finish at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial being his lone 2012 top-10 finish before now.
• Prior to Sunday's win, his best career finish on TOUR came in 2008 when he finished as the runner-up to Love honours at the Children's Miracle Network Classic.
• Apart from the two-year exemption he earned with this win, it also qualified him for places in the 2013 invitational events, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, the Humana Challenge, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the RBC Heritage, the Players Championship, the Crowne Plaza Invitational, the Memorial, the AT&T National and the PGA Championship. It will also have strengthened his chances of playing in next year's Masters.
• Gainey is only the third golfer in history to shoot a 60 in the final round of a PGA Tour event, the other two being Grant Waite who shot one at the 1996 Waste Management Phoenix Open to tie for 14th place, and Steve Lowery who posted a 60 in the final round of the Buick Challenge when he tied for third.
• The last 60 on the PGA Tour was posted by Patrick Cantley in the second round of the 2011 Travellers Championship
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