American Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey became the second consecutive first-time winner on TOUR as he rallied from seven shots behind to win the McGladrey Classic in stunning fashion. Gainey fired a final round 60 to post 16-under-par 264 to defeat American David Toms by one shot. Jim Furyk, who could have forced a playoff with a birdie on No. 18, was third, two shots behind Gainey to round out the podium.
For the second year in a row, the winner of the McGladrey Classic came roaring from behind on Sunday. Last year, Ben Crane made six birdies on his last nine holes and went on to win in a playoff over Webb Simpson. This year, Gainey began the round seven shots back before his closing round of 60. He left putts short at Nos. 17 and 18 that would have given him a magic 59 but he was more worried about lifting his first trophy on TOUR. Gainey posted his 60 by firing 31 on the front and 29 (four birdies, one eagle) on the inward nine. His 60 was the lowest round on TOUR this season and his lowest as a professional. Gainey posted his round before the leaders made the turn so they knew the number they had to match. The final challenger, Jim Furyk, saw his birdie putt never scare the hole and “Two Gloves” finally had two hands on his first trophy.
A few years ago, Tommy Gainey was selling water heater insulation in the South Carolina. After that, he was the winner on the Golf Channel reality program “The Big Break”. Now, he’s a winner on the PGA TOUR. His best previous finish on TOUR was a solo second at the Children’s Miracle Classic presented by Wal-Mart in 2008, four seasons ago. In 2012, Gainey has struggled to find his swing as heading into this week he had made only 16 cuts from 30 events. His only top 10 before his win this week was a solo third at Colonial at the end of May. His best finish in his last eight events was T13 at the John Deere Classic back in mid-July. In his last 11 rounds before this week, “Two Gloves” had one round in the 60’s. The South Carolina native played in this event last year and missed the cut with rounds of 71-71 so there was another reason I didn’t factor him this week.
For the third week in a row, the guy with one of the hottest putters was holding the trophy at the end of play on Sunday. Gainey finished the week second, second and third in the three measured major putting categories. That hot flat stick led to 21 birdies which was second best for the week. Gainey entered the week 37th in total putting on TOUR in 2012.
Fantasy aside, which I know is tough to do in a fantasy golf column, you have to feel great for Tommy Gainey. Golf is a game that works in mysterious ways and, as life, isn’t always “fair”. If you didn’t find yourself rooting for “Two Gloves” down the stretch on Sunday, you probably don’t have a soul or you had a boatload of money on Furyk…It was a week of veterans clogging up the top 10 and a veteran raising the trophy!
Déjà vu All Over Again?
In 43 weeks of stroke play tournaments, 28 third round leaders failed to lift the trophy in 2012 as Jim Furyk and Davis Love III adds their name to this ever-growing list. The “old” guns couldn’t find enough birdies on Sunday to hold off the charging Gainey.
Tommy Gainey joins Ben Crane and Heath Slocum as the only winners of the McGladrey Classic. For the second year in a row, the low round on Sunday ended up being the tournament champion (Ben Crane 63 last year).
Tommy Gainey and Jonas Blixt are the ninth and 10th first-time winners since the inception of the Fall Series in 2007. There has been a first-time winner in each Fall Series in each of the six years it has taken place.
Americans now have registered 32 victories in 44 events.
Rory McIlroy (4), Tiger Woods (3), Zach Johnson (2), Jason Dufner (2), Hunter Mahan (2) and Brandt Snedeker (2) are the multiple-winners on TOUR in 2012.
The only foreign-born players to win in 2012 are Rory McIlroy (Honda, PGA, DBC and BMW), Justin Rose (WGC-CC), Luke Donald (Transitions), Carl Pettersson (RBC Heritage), Marc Leishman (the Travelers), South African Ernie Els (The Open), Spain’s Sergio Garcia (Wyndham) and Jonas Blixt (Sweden).
Gainey joins the list of first-time winners on TOUR in 2012. He joins Kyle Stanley, John Huh, Rickie Fowler, Jason Dufner, Marc Leishman, Ted Potter, Jr.and Jonas Blixt.
With this victory, Gainey gains exemption into the 2013 HTOC and 2013 PGA Championship. He’s is also exempt for the rest of 2012 and through 2014.
Gainey collects $720,000 for his victory and is now 56th on the money list for 2012.
“Young” Guns versus “Middle” Guns versus “Old” Guns
In 44 events on TOUR in 2012 the “Young” guns have it all locked up at the top as they now lead 24-17-3. Tommy Gainey makes it another win the for the “middle” guys as the 37-year old wins for the first time on TOUR.
For the “Young”, age during their victory in ( ), Johnson Wagner (31), Brandt Snedeker TWICE (31), Kyle Stanley (24), Bill Haas (29), John Huh (21), Hunter Mahan TWICE (29) Rory McIlroy FOUR times (22), Justin Rose (31), Rickie Fowler (23), Dustin Johnson (27), Webb Simpson (26), Marc Leishman (29), Ted Potter, Jr. (28), Scott Stallings (27), Keegan Bradley (26), Sergio Garcia (32), Nick Watney (32),Ryan Moore (29) and Jonas Blixt (28) are your winners.
The “Middle” guys are Mark Wilson (37), George McNeill (36), Luke Donald (34), Tiger Woods THRICE (36), Bubba Watson (33), Carl Pettersson (34), Ben Curtis (34), Matt Kuchar (33), Jason Dufner TWICE (35), Zach Johnson TWICE (36), Scott Piercy (33) J.J. Henry (37) and now Tommy Gainey (37) have been victorious.
Steve Stricker (44), Phil Mickelson (41) and Ernie Els (42) are the only “Old” guys to hit the board in 2012. At least 33% of their wins are majors! The “old” guys gave Gainey a run for his money this week as Furyk, Toms and Davis Love III all hit the top four.
David Toms: The 45-year old Toms hadn’t teed it up since the end of August at the Barclays where he MC but this layoff obviously had no effect on him as he finished solo second. Toms solid ball-striking was evident as he finished T16 in fairways and T14 GIR but it was his putter that helped him almost catch Gainey. Toms finished the week fourth in putts per GIR and T6 in putts per round. He also made 21 birdies which was T2 for the week. This was Toms’ best finish since his victory at Crowne Plaza in June of 2011.
Jim Furyk: The co-54-hole leader was overtaken by a 60 on Sunday as his 69 on Sunday was not enough for his first victory since the TOUR Championship in 2010. I guess I could just go back to previous columns and cut-and-paste what happened on Sunday but you have to feel bad for Furyk as he only made two bogeys on the week and one of them was on the 72nd and final hole. He was first in GIR, 10th in driving accuracy and 10th in strokes gained-putting but his normal steady swing let him down a few more times on this Sunday. The one thing I will put in my memory bank for 2013 is how Furyk ground it out all season even after being on the wrong side of luck more often than not. He’s not done by any stretch of the imagination.
Brendon de Jonge: He can now made 26 cuts in 30 tries in 2012 and he has now also hit the top four for his second event in a row. His T4 finish this week backs up his solo second at the Timberlake three weekends ago to move him up to 41st on the money list in 2012. Even though he hasn’t won, the Charlotte, N.C., resident has had a fantastic season. The birdie machine didn’t disappoint this week as he also pitched in 21 circles on the card over the four rounds. He also took advantage of a hot flat stick as he finished third, third, and fourth in the three measured major putting categories. That’s now eight consecutive rounds in the 60’s for this automatic choice at Disney World (if he plays).
D.J. Trahan: Welcome back, D.J.! The last time we heard from Trahan it was his solo fourth at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in the first week of February. 2012 has been a tough go for the former Clemson Tiger. In 26 events, Trahan has now made just 10 cuts. His T4 this week combined with his solo fourth in February are his only two top 10 finishes of the season. Trahan’s T4 was the product of 22 birdies, which lead the tournament, and being T2 in GIR. Trahan made enough birdies to offset his 10 bogeys on the week and jump from No. 15 to No. 130 on the money list. This finish gives him hope heading into Orlando in a few weeks to hit the top 125 and retain his card for 2013.
Davis Love III: The Ryder Cup Captain and tournament host has been quite busy recently and for his game to be in this shape at his age is nothing short of remarkable. Each week of the Fall Series, which he’s played in every event, has seen his game improve. He was T66 at the Timberlake, T35 last week at the Frys.com and T4 on his home course this week. He was T2 with 21 birdies and was also T2 in GIR which helped him hit the top five. He was in it with a shout until his pull-hook tee shot on No. 16 led to double bogey. He would have been the oldest winner on TOUR (at 48) since Kenny Perry (49) won the Travelers in June of 2009.
Greg Owen: Hitting GIR is his calling card but this week it was his putter which helped him to finish T7 for his third top 10 of 2012. Owen, who was 16th on TOUR in GIR and 184th in total putting, flipped the script this week as he was ninth, eighth and 14th in the three major measured putting stats and yet was only T54 in GIR. Figure that out, please. Owen, like DL III, has played all three Fall Series events and has improved each start. He was MC, T22 and now T7 this week. He’s currently 80th on the money list and has nothing to worry about in the final days of 2012.
Chad Campbell: In his last five events on TOUR, Campbell has hit the top seven two times. He finished T4 at the Wyndham as he closed with 64, 65 and 66 for his second top 10 of 2012 before firing 11-under this week to finish T7. Noted as one of the better ball-strikers in the business, Campbell finished the week T2 in GIR. His putting was lights-out but it was steady enough to only card five bogeys (and one double) on the week. His two top sevens in his last five see him check in comfortably at No. 102 on the money list.
Charles Howell III: The second III in the top 10, “Charley Three Sticks” rolled into the top ten (T7) for only the second time in a disappointing 2012. He ran true to form this week as he was T2 in GIR but couldn’t improve on his 101st rank in total putting as he finished T65 in putts per round and 66th in putts per GIR. CH III, who hit all 18 greens on Sunday, could have had fourth alone but three-putt bogeys on 16 and 17 saw him fall back to T7. It’s time to add CH III to your McGladrey list for 2013 as he’s finished T6, T32 and now T7. That’s a horse for the course, no doubt.
Charlie Beljan: In 21 events in 2012, Beljan has now made the cut eight times. The last time he was in this column was after his T3 finish at the Greenbrier Classic. Beljan’s return to the top 10 moves him up to No. 139 on the money list so he will have to have another huge finish in Orlando to keep his card for 2013. He was cut in five of seven events between his top ten finishes so he wasn’t anywhere near the radar this week, sorry.
David Mathis: He’s now made four cuts on the bounce and his perseverance has looked of paid off. After T55 at the Wyndham, he slowly starting improving with T46 at the Timberlake followed by T22 at the Frys.com and now T10 this week. That has vaulted him to No. 116 and safety on the money list. He was the most accurate driver of the golf ball this week and was T16 or better in the three major measured putting categories. This result ties his best finish of 2012 (Zurich Classic).
Mark Wilson: With his T10 finish, Wilson hits the top 25 for the first time in 14 events (T24 at RBC Heritage) and the top 10 for the first time since his third-place finish in the WGC-Match Play in late February. Accurate with his driver and irons (T2 GIR), Wilson made just enough putts this week to roll in 19 birdies and finish in the top 10. The UNC graduate had two of his best four finishes of 2012 on the Southeast coast. It’s here or the desert as you may have forgotten his victory this year at the Humana Challenge in Palm Springs. That seemed like 100 years ago to be fair.
Michael Thompson: After being the 54-hole leader here in 2011, most of us were confident that he would contend here again in 2012, especially after coming off a T13 in his last event in Las Vegas. Thompson, known for his smooth putting stroke, didn’t make anything this week and still found a top 10. The man who ranks No. 32 on TOUR in total putting missed multiple chances inside ten feet to make any major moves up the leaderboard this week. He was 62nd in strokes gained-putting for the week which is awful for him. He’ll be one to watch come 2013 on TOUR and definitely at the McGladrey Classic as he now has posted back-to-back top 10’s.
Arjun Atwal: His two-year exemption for winning the Wyndham from 2010 expires after this season and he’ll need more than another T10 if he hopes to keep his card for 2013. Atwal, who missed 11 of 13 cuts to begin 2012, currently sits No. 166 on the money list. His T10 this week was his best finish on TOUR since his T19 in early June at the FedEx St. Jude. If he is eligible next year, this would be the tournament to plug him in as he finished T3 here in 2010 as well.
“Hey, what ever happened to…”
Ben Crane: The defending champion fired a 62 on Saturday to jump into T6, just four shots out of the lead. His two-over 72 on Sunday saw him drop to T27 as he struggled to find GIR.
Zach Johnson: The hometown favorite came out firing as he posted five-under 65 on Thursday to announce his intentions for the week. Sadly, that was the highlight for the St. Simons resident as he finished the week 70-70-70 to finish T49. This was his first stroke play tournament since his T15 at the TOUR Championship in September.
Jonas Blixt: All good things come to an end as the Swede MDF this week. He fired rounds of 72-67-72 as his putter was too sticky from all of that Champagne last weekend.
No money? Mo problems!
These gents are looking to finish No. 125 or better to guarantee their card for 2013. (Money list position in ( _).
Here’s the current “five up, four down (one guy, No. 125 is happy/scared/excited)” list
James Driscoll (120): Finished the week right where he began even though he finished T27.
Boo Weekley (121): Finished the week right where he began even though he finished T27. Wait, what? Yep, that happened.
Jeff Maggert (122): Began the week 119th but after MC on the number, Maggert slides closer to the “magic” number of 125. The veteran should be able to handle his business in Orlando but it’s amazing what ONE stroke can do to shake things up.
Kevin Chappell (123): Began the week 126th but his T43 put him on the proper side of the 125. Hang on, youngster!
Rod Pampling (124): Finished the week right we he began even though he finished Sunday 8-2-7 for second-to-last. I’m not sure what area code 827 is but Pampling, who was No. 125 last year, could have gotten himself well and clear of this number. Let’s hope this doesn’t come back to haunt him.
Billy Mayfair (125): Finished the week right where he began after an MDF finish on Saturday. Mayfair is also not a fan of hole No. 18 as he tripled it on Thursday and doubled it on Saturday to miss playing on Sunday. Mayfair has showed his guts before by having a high finish at Orlando, plus he won Q School a couple of years ago as well. He would be the guy I’m least worried about on this list.
Trevor Immelman (126): DNS as he drops from No. 123. Remember, he has one year remaining (2013) on his exemption from his 2008 win at the Masters.
Gary Christian (127): Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Finished the week right where he began. He also had fun down the stretch on Saturday, finishing 6-3-5 to MDF. It’s a game of inches and he also didn’t take advantage.
Alexandre Rocha (128): No movement as his T61 finish didn’t move the meter.
Bill Lunde (129): He began the week at No. 133 but four straight 68’s saw him finish T20 and gaining four more places closer to No. 125. Four more places after Orlando would see him hit No. 125 and make it in 2013.
D.J. Trahan (130): See above for more details! He’s the biggest mover into striking range this week.
Coming Tuesday: The CIMB Preview and Golf Channel Fantasy Picks