Gainey Earns His Big Break

By Mark MitchellMay 24, 2007, 4:00 pm
The Big Break VIIWidely considered the most talented player competing in the GOLF CHANNELs The Big Break VII: Reunion, Tommy Gainey lived up to the billing by beating Ashley Gomes, 3 and 2, in a nine-hole match-play finale to be crowned the series champion.
Gaineys victory earned an exemption to play in the 2007 Cox Classic on the Nationwide Tour. In addition, Ginn Reunion Resort presented him with $25,000 in cash and $25,000 in Ginn Resort lodging and hospitality. Adams Golf gave him an Adams Golf endorsement contract and $10,000 cash while Dicks Sporting Goods provided a $10,000 shopping spree in the form of a gift card. Finally, the one-time water-heater factory worker and furniture mover drove away in a new 2007 Chrysler Aspen.
Im pleased I set my goal and accomplished it, said Gainey, who never tailed in Gomes during the match. I have to take my hat off to these competitors because they pushed me to the limit. It really was a physical and mental grind for me during these 12 episodes.
Gainey, known as Two Gloves because he wears a golf glove on each hand, set the tone for the finale with an eagle on the downhill 544-yard par-5 first hole at the Watson Independence course at Ginn Reunion Resort in Reunion, Fla. Sporting a self-taught swing driven by an ultra-strong ten-finger grip, he needed only a 5-iron to reach the green on his second shot to set up a 20-foot eagle putt.
The 321-yard opening tee shot sent the intended message that Gainey was playing for keeps and Gomes heard it loud and clear. As she later said, its not normal for someone to hit it that far. Startled and rattled, Gomes promptly hit a wayward tee shot on the second hole that led to penalty and what would have been at least a bogey if the hole had been played out.
Its one of those moments when you are on the golf course and a really negative thought enters your brain and you cant get it out, Gomes said of the tee shot on the second hole. As soon as I hit it I knew I was in trouble.
Yes she was and it had little to do with a pushed tee ball. Gainey was sharp while Gomes carelessly tossed away strokes that led to her ultimate demise. Two down on the fifth hole, she missed a 5-foot birdie putt that would have won the hole. On the next hole she again failed to convert a birdie putt that would have won the hole, this time missing from 12 feet.
You try to tell yourself that it is like any other day other day on the golf course but you know its not, Gomes said. The nerves were creeping into my head.
Fittingly, the match ended on the seventh hole when Gomes missed a short putt.
My goal is make the PGA TOUR so I have to get use to the cameras being on me, said Gainey, who was also a contestant in The Big Break IV: USA vs. Europe. I might as well start right now getting focused on what I need to do. Being on this show and wining was very sweet.
Filmed last November at Ginn Reunion Resort in Reunion, Fla., The Big Break VII concept pits highly skilled golfers against each other in challenges that test physical skills and mental toughness. Competitors were eliminated with the last one standing crowned champion and awarded his/her opportunity to play on a major tour.
While Gainey looks forward to competing in the Cox Classic in July, he isnt waiting to pursue his quest. Earlier this month he Monday qualified to play in the PGA TOURs Wachovia Championship. Last week, playing on a sponsors exemption, he was one shot off the lead entering the final round of the BMW Charity Pro-Am at the Cliffs on the Nationwide Tour. While he posted a 77 to finish tied for 30, it was one a learning experience.
In each case, the 31-year-old, whose normal golf residence is the Gateway, Tarheel and Grey Goose U.S. Pro Golf mini-tours, credited his experience on the series for preparing him to handle the pressure and playing in front of the camera and galleries.
Now, with series title in hand there is no telling how far Gainey can take his Big Break.
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    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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    Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

    When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

    Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

    "I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

    "It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

    Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

    "It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

    Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

    Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

    "I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

    Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

    "If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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    LPGA lists April date for new LA event

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

    The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

    When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

    The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

    The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.