Gainey upsets Love, Furyk for McGladrey win

By Rex HoggardOctober 21, 2012, 11:16 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – A stone-faced crowd filed off property with all the excitement of a University of Georgia fan following a particularly painful Bulldog loss, or an American gallery after a Ryder Cup defeat. Pick a Ryder Cup, any one will do considering the red, white and blue have only one victory this century.

As Davis Love III has joked many times this week, “Blame it on the captain.”

In fairness, Love will shoulder the blame for America’s loss last month at Medinah. He has to, it’s a leadership deal. But that is little more than misdirected anger. This, however, was something else. This was Love’s to win, or Jim Furyk depending on which reclamation project tugged enough on the heart strings.

Video: Gainey wins 'Big Break VII: Reunion

The duo began the day two strokes clear of the field. Seventy-one players survived a secondary cut on Saturday, but Sunday was a two-man race, or so one could have been forgiven for thinking.

But things haven’t gone to plan for either player this season. After the month Love and Furyk have had, the only thing missing on Sunday at Sea Island Resort was a hot-putting German and echoes of “Ole, Ole, Ole.”

Instead, Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey – who set out on Sunday 2 hours, 25 minutes before and seven strokes adrift of the leaders – played the role of Martin Kaymer, scorching the Seaside Course with a 10-under 60 that included a missed 15 footer at the last for 59. And then he waited.

He waited as the winds along the Brunswick River came up. He waited as Furyk and Love squandered birdie opportunities. He waited as David Toms slowly ran out of holes. He waited 104 Tour starts to notch his first victory, however surreal and subdued it may be.

The Sea Island crowds wanted a victory for Love, the tournament host and island staple. Those with a sense of cosmic justice were likely leaning toward Furyk, who led the U.S. Open through 69 holes, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational through 71 holes, and his pivotal Sunday singles match against Sergio Garcia through 16 holes only to drop all three decisions.

But as day turned to dusk on a clear fall day Gainey’s wait became more interesting.

Love three-putted the 14th hole to drop to 13 under, three behind Gainey, and pulled his drive into the hazard at No. 16 for a double bogey-6 to end the Cinderella scenario.

For Furyk the end came more slowly, missing a 20 footer for birdie at the 16th to remain one back, and the greens at Nos. 16 and 17. As the late Seve Ballesteros may have opined, “I miss, I miss, I miss, I lose.”

“What I’m most disappointed about is when it came down the stretch,” said Furyk, who closed with a 69 to finish alone in third place a stroke behind Toms (63) and two behind Gainey. “Hitting the ball pretty much as good as I can I made really, really poor swings at 17 and 18 with a 7-iron and 8-iron.”

Gainey is familiar with disappointment. The quintessential journeyman began plying the mini-tours in 1995, was forced back into the game after being laid off from AO Smith, where he installed insulation on water heaters, and missed more cuts in 2011 (17) than some Tour types play in a season.

The largest comeback on Tour this year was Kyle Stanley’s eight-stroke rally in Phoenix, but somehow Gainey’s come-from-behind finish from a touchdown back seemed more compelling.

Maybe it was his attempt to become the sixth Tour player to post 59 in an official event, a thought he said that never crossed his mind, or the cast of characters that spent an excruciatingly long afternoon chasing him.

“I was nervous,” said Gainey, who spent most of the two hours after he finished his round answering text messages and watching the telecast. “When you’ve got Davis Love III, Jim Furyk and David Toms coming at you, you may want to pay attention.

“You’ve got Hall of Famers, future Hall of Famers chasing me . . . chasing me . . . I’m Tommy Gainey . . . Two Gloves.”

On this one maybe karma got it right. Sure Love and Furyk could have used a post-Ryder Cup boost, but for Gainey, who had earned more than half his money this year on Tour in one week (Crowne Plaza Invitational where he finished third), the McGladrey victory, his first on Tour, is a life changer.

The mini-tour legend turned folk hero was still digesting that reality when Love, who finished tied for fourth after a closing 71, approached him before the trophy presentation.

Prior to this week, Gainey’s best Tour finish was a runner-up showing to Love at the 2008 Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic when the rookie charged in with a closing 64.

“In ’08 that was (Love’s) 20th win and I’m playing well and he hit a tee shot at the 17th like he did today at the 16th, just a rope hook,” Gainey recalled. “But back then the ball stayed out of the hazard and he got up and down out of a bunker for par to beat me by one. He mentioned that to me and how odd it was that he was giving me the trophy.”

An odd ending indeed, for a tournament and a season.

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McCoy earns medalist honors at Q-School

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Tour Q-School.

McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.