RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico – Tommy Gainey birdied five of the last seven holes at breezy Grand Reserve for a 7-under 65 and the first-round lead Thursday in the PGA Tour's Puerto Rico Open.
Gainey, the 45-year-old from South Carolina who won his lone PGA Tour title in 2012, had a one-stroke lead over local favorite Rafael Campos, Robert Garrigus, Taylor Pendrith, Lee Hodges, Greg Chalmers, Fabian Gomez and Brandon Wu.
“It’s windy. It’s Puerto Rico,” Gainey said. “I’m just glad that it’s 80 degrees outside, because back in South Carolina, all it is, is 40 degrees and raining. So, I’m just glad to be in some hot weather. Wind, I can deal with. But I just hit it really good today.”
The tournament is being played opposite the World Golf Championship event in Florida. The winner will get into the PGA Championship in May but not the Masters in April.
Gainey rebounded from a three-putt bogey on the par-3 11th with birdies on the par-4 12th and 13th, par-5 15th, par-4 17th and par-5 18th.
“Hit it 12 feet on No. 11 and then three-whacked it,” Gainey said. “So I’m not happy about that, but really happy at bouncing back with a birdie on 12. Just showing a little resilience and confidence to come back from a bogey, because when you three-putt from 12 feet, come on, let’s be honest, that’s bad.”
He also started fast, birdieing the opening two holes and three of the first four.
Campos closed with a birdie on 18. The 32-year-old Puerto Rican player won a Korn Ferry Tour event in 2019,
“I hit the ball very well, gave myself a lot of great looks,” Campos said. “Wasn’t really aggressive today, which I think that was a key, just kind of tried to play my way around the course.”
The event is being played without spectators because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s weird not seeing the fans out here,” Campos said. “I miss them.”
European Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington shot 70. Ian Poulter, the top-ranked player in the field at 59th, opened with a 71.