GREENSBORO, N.C. – Tommy Gainey is struggling with his tee shots. He’s having a tough time with his irons. He’s fighting a nagging wrist injury.
And he’s got one of the best two-round scores in Wyndham Championship history.
Gainey shot a 65 on Friday to move to 12-under 128 and take a three-stroke lead after two rounds of the final event before the start of golf’s postseason.
Gainey, who shared the first-round lead with Jeff Quinney, had six birdies and has the second-best 36-hole score in the history of the tournament.
Ernie Els (66), Webb Simpson (65), Stuart Appleby (67) and Daniel Summerhays (65) were at 131. Jim Furyk (67), Alexandre Rocha (66), Paul Casey (67) and Retief Goosen (65) were four strokes back at 132.
After recording five birdies and an eagle a day earlier during his career-best-tying 63, Gainey said he was “going to light it up” against the fresh greens he would face Friday morning.
It didn’t happen quite like that, but he did turn in another solid round that kept him in contention for his first PGA Tour win.
Starting on the back nine, the South Carolina native had his first bogey of the tournament on the par-4 No. 11. Then, he warmed up. He birdied four of his final nine holes and closed his round with consecutive birdies, rolling in a 13-foot putt on No. 9 to finish.
A left wrist he sprained while hitting out of the rough last month at the RBC Canadian Open has made it tougher to keep his tee shots in the fairways and hampered his work with the irons.
“I hit it worse today than I did yesterday off the tee. I hit my irons worse than I did yesterday,” Gainey said. “It’s just hard to make birdies when you keep putting yourself … in the rough. … The harder you swing at it to get it out, just the more shock that goes into the wrist.”
Still, only Carl Pettersson’s 125 in 2008 was better than Gainey’s score through 36 holes at the Donald Ross-designed, par-70 Sedgefield Country Club course.
“I haven’t really accomplished anything in two days,” Gainey said. “The only thing I’ve accomplished is, I’ve set myself up in good shape going into the weekend. But, still, there’s a lot that can happen in one day … but two days, that’s like an eternity in a golf tournament. I’m trying to do the same thing I did these first two days tomorrow.”
Will MacKenzie began the day four strokes off the pace, but moved up the leaderboard with eagles on both of the course’s par 5s, Nos. 5 and 15, during his 65. The one-time prodigy from Greenville, N.C., is trying to reclaim his PGA Tour card after losing it last year, and the Wyndham represents one of his last chances to do that.
“For me to get my Tour card back some possible way, through (the) Nationwide Tour or just have a freak week, obviously I’m going to have to have a humongous week,” MacKenzie said. “I can’t be that top-25 guy and string it together. I’ve only got here and maybe another event, if I’m lucky, so I’m going to have to win or come in second.”
Quinney, who has conditional status on the Tour, is facing a similarly desperate situation, playing for both his card and a spot in the FedEx Cup playoffs. He arrived at No. 215 in the standings and needed a high finish to crack the top 125 and make the playoffs, but he slipped off the pace after his triple bogey on the par-4 11th.
Numerous others are playing for their more immediate futures.
The field is littered with players trying to play their way off the bubble and into golf’s postseason, which begins next week at The Barclays in New Jersey.
Among those who made it to the weekend: Padraig Harrington, No. 130 on the points list, birdied two of the final four holes of his 68 to make the cut of 3 under. No. 121 Heath Slocum and No. 125 Camilo Villegas each shot 64s, with Slocum’s round highlighted by separate streaks of three and four birdies.
“Look at the order of names, everybody around me seems to be in the same position with me,” Harrington said. “Obviously, I’m going to (need to) have a good weekend in order to get through.”
Els, at No. 126, charged up the leaderboard with three birdies in a late five-hole span.
“I’ve got quite a large goal for me this week, and you know, I’m feeling like, fine, my game is turning around a little bit,” Els said.
And while Derek Lamely didn’t make the cut and won’t make the playoffs, the 31-year-old is leaving Sedgefield with quite the parting gift: a lifetime of vacations, courtesy of Wyndham, for his hole-in-one on the 165-yard, par-3 No. 16.