Gainey's struggles could end at Travelers this week


CROMWELL, Conn. – Tommy Gainey still has that flip phone from the biggest day of his golfing life, when he shot 60 on a Sunday on the PGA Tour, when he retired to the clubhouse and waited while some the biggest names in golf tried to take him down. 

Davis Love III launched a drive into the water left of No. 14. David Toms hit a tee shot into a bunker right of No. 18. Jim Furyk, continuing his theme of 2012, bogeyed the 72nd hole. Gainey, sitting on a couch and texting family and friends, had won The McGladrey Classic.

Winning on Tour was what Gainey had always wanted. He’d rocketed to fame by winning Golf Channel’s Big Break and had become a cult hero for his unorthodox swing and two gloves.

Surely, 2013 would be easier than 2012, wouldn’t it?

“I’ve had a tough time dealing with it,” Gainey said Friday at the Travelers Championship, speaking of the aftermath of his first Tour victory. “I’ve put extra pressure on myself. When you shoot 60, with Davis and Jim and Toms coming at you, then the next goal is to win again and play consistent. It just hasn’t happened like that. I’ve put more pressure on myself to play better and it’s gone the opposite for me.”

Gainey has missed 13 of 20 cuts this year, with his biggest struggles coming on the greens, where he is ranked 112th in strokes gained putting.

He has also spent part of the year tinkering with his driver.

Last month, he switched to a driver with a more open clubface and has turned a hook into a soft draw.

“We got the specs right, and now I’m hitting more fairways, which means more birdie opportunities for me,” Gainey said. “We got that straightened out. Now I just have to start making putts. I haven’t made any putts all year. I believe when you miss putts, you miss cuts.”

Through two rounds at the Travelers, he’s finally seeing the ball roll the way he wants it to. He’s taken just 52 putts, tied for 25th in the field. At 7 under through 36 holes, he's three off Bubba Watson's lead.

After his round Friday, Gainey hopped in a golf cart and spent 10 minutes with a local radio station talking about his day.

On his way back to the clubhouse, two fans stopped him and asked if they could take a picture with him. Gainey happily obliged.

“Things are turning around,” Gainey said. “I’m trying to have more fun. Earlier this year I wasn’t having fun missing all those cuts, but I feel like I’m close to doing something special again.”

Maybe it will happen this weekend at the Travelers. The course record at the TPC River Highlands is 60.