Gainey Earns His Big Break

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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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