TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Tommy Gainey, a veteran golfer from Darlington, S.C., surveys the scene at Pumpkin Ridge on Sunday, en route to his third-place finish in the WinCo Foods Portland Open.Tommy "Two Gloves" Gainey sounds like a boxer, and he once held a job wrapping insulation around hot water tanks.

But the Darlington, S.C., native is a pro golfer, and an accomplished one at that.

It won't make the top of his resume, but Sunday's third-place finish in the Tour's WinCo Foods Open at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club represents the highlight of a year -- and perhaps better things ahead.

Gainey shot a 6-under-par 65 in Sunday's final round to finish at 15-under 269, earning a check of $54,400 -- not too much shy of the $69,321 he had made in 15 previous Tour events in 2015.

That vaulted the man who plays golf with gloves on both hands from 71st to 35th on the money list and put him into the four final events of the tour, beginning Sept. 10-13 at Fort Wayne, Ind. The top 75 on the Tour, plus Nos. 126 through 200 on the PGA Tour, advance to the four finals, culminating with the Tour Championship Oct. 1-4 at Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

"To shoot 6-under today at Pumpkin Ridge is a momentum-builder for me," said Gainey, who turned 40 on Aug. 13. "I'm looking forward to the finals now. I just hate it that we don't play next week.

"Finishing third this week and taking a week off kills momentum a little bit. But I'm looking forward to going home and chilling with my family and being with my boys."

Gainey and wife Erin have two young sons, seven and 15 months. They'll have something to celebrate. Gainey posted his second 65 of the tournament Sunday and could have been even better.

He was on the fringe in two on the par-5 11th hole but chipped 20 feet past and missed the birdie putt. He knocked a 9-iron within three feet on the 175-yard 15th but lipped out the putt.

"Missed a couple of chances," Gainey shrugged, "but still a very good day."

Gainey began Sunday's play tied for seventh place, seven shots behind third-round leader Dicky Pride. It would have taken a flawless final round to catch Pride, an able front-runner who tamed Witch Hollow for a fourth straight day, shooting a 67 to finish at 20-under 264.

"Dicky played well," Gainey said. "I mean, 20-under at Pumpkin Ridge? Come on."

Gainey had some experience being in that situation. He rallied from seven strokes back of third-round leaders Jim Furyk and Davis Love III to shoot 60 and win the PGA Tour McGladrey Classic at Sea Island, Ga., in 2012.

It wasn't to be Sunday, though Gainey overhauled everyone but Pride and runner-up Tim Herron, who finished at 17-under 267.

There was an additional carrot for Gainey. A victory would have pushed him into the top 25 on the money list and given him a PGA Tour card for 2016.

"Let's make sure we understand, I was trying to win," he said. "I wasn't trying to lay back and finish second, third or fourth. But I played it the same today. I was aggressive all four days."

Gainey admitted to some scoreboard-watching on the back nine.

"I started looking when I was walking to 12, just to see where I stood and how far behind I was," he said. "But I was still going to make birdies no matter where I was located (on the leader board)."

It's not the first time Gainey has finished 15-under-par and not won.

"You do it a lot out there on the PGA Tour," he said. "Some of these guys don't understand. The cut's not going to be 6-under every week.

"You just have to play your game. That's what I'd tell these young guys. Go out there, play your game and enjoy it, because this is what you work your whole life for. And trust me, it's well worth it when you get there."

Gainey didn't come from a college golf factory. He graduated with a degree in industrial maintenance from Central Carolina Technical School and worked for a spell on an assembly line at A.O. Smith Corporation before turning pro. A.O. Smith remains one of his sponsors on tour.

After playing mostly the mini-tours for years, Gainey won a pair of Nationwide (the forerunner to tournaments in 2010 and was fourth on the circuit's money list that year. He was 55th on the PGA Tour money list with more than $1.5 million in earnings in 2012, falling to 133rd in 2013 with $520,000 and 147th in 2014 with $490,000.

This year, Gainey has played in nine PGA Tour events, making the cut four times and earning $70,137. His best finish was a tie for 32nd at the McGladrey Classic. Gainey has four top-10 finishes on the Tour this year but had missed the cut in two of his last three events.

"Earlier this year, I wasn't having too much fun," Gainey said. "I was dealing with tendinitis in my elbow. I still am. I've been dealing with that ever since I last won.

"Some days are better than others. Some days are pretty bad. But I'm happy with the way my game sets up right now, and I was glad to be a part of this tournament."

The fans seemed glad, too. He received a rousing ovation coming up No. 18 and had a handful of young autograph seekers waiting for him afterward, chanting "Tom-mie! Tom-mie!" Two got rewarded with a glove.

"Man, I'm very lucky to have these fans," Gainey said. "I have a great team around me, and to have all the support I've had this week has been incredible."

Gainey's big game helps his popularity, but his sunny disposition plays a part, too. Hitting the big 4-0 gives anyone playing pro golf pause, but he doesn't plan to hang up his clubs any time soon.

"God put me on this planet to play golf, and I'm doing it," Gainey said. "This is his plan for me, and I'm just trying to enjoy it."

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Twitter: @kerryeggers

Contract Publishing

Go to top
Template by JoomlaShine