An Interview with: TOMMY GAINEY

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Tommy Gainey, thanks for joining us here after a first round of 7-under par 63 here at the Wyndham Championship.  Off to a great start.  Matched your career best on the PGA TOUR with a 63.

So, obviously a good start and maybe a few opening comments.

TOMMY GAINEY:  Well, you know, I hit it terrible off the tee, hit my irons really good and made a lot of putts.  But I left quite a few shots out there so I got to definitely work on the tee ball here because it’s starting to really frustrate me, amongst other things I really can’t say right now but, you know, it was a good day.

Anytime you play and shoot 63, you know, made 7 birdies, no bogies and the biggest thing is when you have no blemishes on a golf course like this or any golf course for that matter, it’s a good day and I’m just going to deal with that in the morning.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN:  If we can go through before you get into the questions, we’ll go through your card real quick.  Started on the front side and birdied the first two to start.

TOMMY GAINEY:  All right.  Let’s see.  Actually you know, the first two holes — the first hole I hit driver and I hit it in the fairway.  It was one of the only few fairways I hit with driver.  As a matter of fact, might be the only fairway I hit today with a driver.

You know, I hit — I had like 119 yards.  Choked my 52 degree wedge and it flew like 22, 23 backed up maybe 6 inches, something like that.  Made a 10-footer.

And the second hole, I hit it like six, eight feet and made birdie.

But I think, you know, when you get off to a good start like that going birdie, birdie, I think it sets the table for you playing a really good round for the day and it just set it up for me.

You know, I’m 2-under after three holes and I’m looking forward to trying to make as many birdies as I can.  And I get to the par 5 and hit a terrible drive in the rough, got a good break with the lie.  Hit it on the green about 12, 14 feet and made it.

You know, hitting it in this rough like I am right now, my wrist is starting to give me some problems because a few weeks ago when I was in Vancouver I kind of sprained my wrist hitting out of 6 inches plus of rough and now this rough is like maybe two and a half inches but it just settles at the bottom of it.

That’s what makes this golf course so tough, with the slope in the greens and the rough with the ball just going straight to the bottom, I mean it’s just hard to judge how far the ball is going to fly.

Let’s see.  Eagle after 5.  You know, it’s always good to par No. 7.  I mean that’s just a tough hole.  It’s like today it played like 177 but when I was up to hit, the wind started blowing — it felt like it was blowing in and then it switched to left to right and it was helping.

So my caddy and I kind of misread the wind there but, you know, I hit it like 30 feet and had a little two-putt there.

Then, you know, No. 8, I hit 3-wood off the tee, missed another fairway.  That’s a shocker.  I hadn’t hit but one that side so far.  Eight holes I hit one fairway.  Hit a wedge.  I had like 70 yards.  Hit a wedge up there about six feet.  Putt broke, I don’t know, like maybe seven, eight inches.  Made it.

Then I get to No. 9.  Second fairway I hit in 9.  I hit a 3-iron hybrid.  Piped it right down the middle.  Hit a pitching wedge in there about 12 feet or so, maybe a little more, made that putt.  So, I mean I’m interested to see how many putts I had on that 9.


TOMMY GAINEY:  I had 13 putts on the front-9.  That’s pretty good.  That’s pretty good.  Now I’m looking for my total putts.


TOMMY GAINEY:  I had 27 total putts today.  Missed two greens both on the backside, 15 — I missed 15 and I missed 18 and, you know, that just tells you how solid I’m hitting the irons and how well I’m rolling the putter to hit it so bad off the tee.  But the rest of my game is making up for the poor tee ball.

So I’m really — I’m really happy with my score.  I mean I don’t see how — I could have been like two more shots better.  Could have shot 9-under.  Would have been a really great score.

I felt like I left at least two out there, that par 5 for one, that par 3; 15 and 16 I thought I left those two birdies out there but that’s just the way this golf course is.  I mean you’re not going to make every putt but I made a lot today so I’m not going to complain.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN:  You played a lot of golf in this region.  How many events do you think you’ve won in the State of North Carolina, I guess you played a lot of E-Golf professional events and things like that.

TOMMY GAINEY:  Oh, man that’s a good question.  No disrespect to the E-Golf or Tar Heel or whatever it’s called now because they changed names quite a few times.  Went from Tar Heel to E-Golf — I think — is it still — E Golf now?

I want to say I won like five, six tournaments but it’s been ages.  Feels like it’s been a long time since I played that tour and actually it’s been probably about six, seven years since I played it and it just feels like it’s a lifetime ago, especially being out here since 2008 and it’s just — it’s a different world out here.

But I’ll tell you, you know, they get you ready.  They get you ready to play and all the other tours that I played, the Hooters, the Grey Goose Gateway Tour.  Hooters Tour, you got to shoot 30-under to win.  The E-Golf Tour, not so much 30-under, they play some pretty difficult golf courses in the State of North Carolina and you know you got your work ahead of you to try to win.

Talent, it’s just unbelievable.  Any mini tour level you go, the talent is out there.  I’m lucky to be in my situation, having the opportunity to play on those tours to get me ready for this Tour and, you know, I’m just starting to catch fire.


Q.  All those years on the mini tour, was there ever a time you wanted to do something else?  I know you wrapped pipe or something before that but was there a time when you almost gave it up?

TOMMY GAINEY:  Oh, sure.  There’s — there was a lot of times I wanted to, you know, try to give it up because I was playing so bad but I stuck with it.

Every player goes through bad stretches, you know.  I think everybody, especially you guys, I think you could understand this, you know, golf is a streaky game.

I mean you’re either hot or cold and that’s one of the hardest lessons to learn.  I mean you’re not going to play well everyday.  You feel like you hit the ball so good everyday but you’re not going to do it.  That’s just the way this game is.  It’s so humbling that if you don’t watch yourself, it’s going to get you in the end.

You just got to wait your time and just be patient and, you know, that’s definitely — patience, I’m not very good on patience.

You can ask any of my friends, they’ll tell you I’m not a very patient person.  But I’m 36, I’ve been out here, this is my third, fourth year out here now and one thing that I’ve learned, got to have patience.  I’m learning that now and scoring so much better for me now than it did before.  All my friends were right.

Q.  For those of us who haven’t met you before, why do you wear the two gloves?

TOMMY GAINEY:  The two gloves is pretty much my father introduced me to the game of golf, you know, when I played baseball, that was my first love.

I wore two gloves batting.  And for people that don’t understand, I took the baseball swing and put it into a golf swing and you know, I just grip it like I’m going to hit a baseball with a golf club.

It’s about the easiest way for me to explain that.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN:  Anything else?

Q.  With a lot of the adversity that you’ve come through, all the mini tours, do you feel like that’s freed your game up at all?

You said you kind of turned the baseball swing into a golf swing and that kind of makes me think is your game more of the grip it and rip it type, you just let it all hang out there?

TOMMY GAINEY:  Yeah, that’s a good question.  I think I would have to agree with that.

You know, I like — you know, just looking at me swing at it, I swing at it pretty hard so I guess you could say I like to grip it and rip it but there’s times out here that I’ve had to — some bad times I had to go through that maybe hitting driver on this 350-yard hole was not such a good idea, you know.

I got to kind of tone it down a little bit and just hit it out there in the fairway and just have a good yardage going into the green, you know, because these pins are tucked from right to left, back to front, they’re tucked over the slopes, three paces on the front of the green, ten paces on the green over this slope, things like that.

So, I mean sometimes it’s not good going for it as far as just laying it out there and just hitting a wedge into the green because, you know, I think my ball striking is pretty good and the way I’ve hit my irons this year and the way I’ve putted this year, I feel like I can make it from anywhere and that’s one of the lessons I’ve had to learn.  I’ve had to back off the grip it and rip it a little bit but you know, I’m still all about hitting it.

Q.  Have you learned through the years not to look too far ahead?  Obviously it’s the first round and the victory is in sight on Sunday.  Have you learned about that, too?

TOMMY GAINEY:  No question about it.  I’ve learned definitely on Thursday — you can lose the golf tournament on Thursday but you can’t win the golf tournament on Thursday.

This is what I try to do, I try not to think about winning the golf tournament.  What I try to do is go out there and try to hit golf shots and just try to play the best that I can play that day, if it’s Thursday or if it’s Friday or it’s Saturday and then obviously everyone knows that Saturday is moving day and Sunday, you know, is a great day to play well.

But I’ve learned to kind of try not to look too far ahead.  It’s a great lesson learned, you know.  It’s something I had to learn and I’ve learned that out here.  You know, I’ve looked too far ahead on some occasions and it’s got me in trouble.

I’ve missed some cuts doing that, being on the cut line with one hole to play and worried about where I need to hit this tee shot instead of just trusting it and hitting the shot and then I hit it in trouble and make bogey, miss the cut by 1.  Things like that.  You know, I’ve learned that just hit golf shots and have fun doing it.

Q.  You rather not have any scoreboards around, I bet.

TOMMY GAINEY:  Scoreboards don’t bother me.  I like to scoreboard watch.  I’m not going to sit up here and lie to you, especially today when you’re going well, it’s good to look up there and see your name going from like 30th to 10th, 8th, 7th, you know, and it’s climbing up the leaderboard, especially the way it was going today.  It’s cool.


Q.  Most of the really low numbers today came in the morning rounds.  Are you looking forward to playing in the morning tomorrow?

TOMMY GAINEY:  No doubt about it.  One thing I think you media guys don’t really understand, when you have a morning tee time, you have perfect greens at least for nine holes.  Nine holes you have perfect greens and out here, you know, we’re not the best players in the world for nothing and when you got that much talent and ability, and when you have perfect greens that when you hit that putt on that line, you know it’s going in and there ain’t a better feeling than going out there.

I know I’ve got 9 holes to play with perfect greens because I feel like after the way I’ve putted today I’m going to light it up tomorrow.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN:  Okay.  Tommy Gainey, thanks.



FastScripts by ASAP Sports


Latest Headlines

In Memoriam: Irwin Smallwood

Irwin Smallwood was a golf writer, sports editor and managing editor of the Greensboro News & Record, formerly the Greensboro Daily News, where he worked…