By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
Make it three in a row for the long putters. First Adam Scott (World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational), then Keegan Bradley (PGA Championship), then Webb Simpson at last week’s Wyndham Championship.
Is this newsworthy anymore? Might not be for long (pardon the pun) when you consider players like Simpson. He wasn’t someone that picked up a belly putter looking for answers on the green well into his PGA TOUR career, like Scott and others.
His move dates to far before that.
“I switched the fall of my freshman year (at Wake Forest),” said Simpson, who wields a Ping Craz-E model. “It’s been seven years now I've used the same putter and, you know, it seems like a lot more guys are using it.
“I think you're seeing younger guys use it, more guys use it and I don't know what it is for the other guys. For me I just like it better. I putt differently with it and I've never really found anything I like better.”
With the recent run of wins, the discussion has been re-ignited about whether such putters should have been made illegal years ago, or should be made illegal now. Do they provide an unfair competitive advantage?
Phil Mickelson says no.
“I think that there's more to it than just starting the ball online and putting. You have to read the green correctly,” Mickelson said Wednesday at The Barclays. “You have to start the ball online, which the belly putter I think really helps, but you also have to have the right speed.
“And if it were going to be banned, it should have happened 20‑plus years ago. But now that it's been legal, I don't think you can make it retroactive. There have been guys that have been working with that putter for years, if not decades.”
In Simpson’s case, seven years.
In the middle of talking belly putters ... the Earth moved.
SHAKING: Perhaps Mother Nature dislikes the long putters. In the middle of Jim Furyk’s press conference Tuesday at The Barclays – while he was discussing belly putter tips he got from Bradley – the Earth moved. Check it out on the right.
MIXED BAG: It’s not uncommon for pros to mix and match clubs in the bag come tournament days, but Tom Lehman’s is quite the spectacle. At the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship, Lehman carried a Cobra K forged 3-iron, a TaylorMade RAC prototype 4-iron, TaylorMade Tour Preferred 5- and 8-irons, a Tour Preferred Muscle Back 6-iron, Tour Burner 7-iron and Tour Preferred Muscle Cavity 9-iron and pitching wedge.
That’s six different models from two manufacturers in one iron set. Oh, and he also had Titleist Vokey wedges. A very mixed bag but he’s doing something right – Lehman leads the Charles Schwab Cup standings.
TWO GLOVES, ONE DRIVER: Tommy Gainey finished third at the Wyndham with a new driver, a Callaway 10.5-degree Diablo Octane Tour. He was sixth in driving distance for the week with a 313.4-yard average. Earlier in the year he used a TaylorMade R11.
An out-out-bounds tee shot on the long par-4 11th resulted in a double bogey for Tommy Gainey, likely ending his bid to become the latest first-time winner on the PGA TOUR.
Driving accuracy has been his Achilles Heel all week. He's only hit half his fairways, putting him near last in the field.
Still, all is not lost. He's assured a prime seed in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup, which he missed as a rookie in 2008.
Tough opening nine for Tommy Gainey as he tries to win for the first time on the PGA TOUR. The South Carolinian -- already well inside the top 50 in the FedExCup race -- bogeyed the ninth to fall four shots back of Webb Simpson, who birdied the same hole to get to 16 under.
Sundays have bothered Gainey all year. He's 94th in Final Round Scoring Average. His best Sunday score was a 68 at the Viking Classic, where he tied for seventh.
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- A pair of Carolinians from opposite sides of the state line will be paired together again on Sunday in the final group of the final round of the Wyndham Championship.
Webb Simpson, who was born in Raleigh, N.C., took the lead from Tommy Gainey, who hails from Darlington, S.C., with a 64 on Saturday. He's 15 under and two strokes ahead of his playing partner, who shot 69 in the third round.
Simpson started slowly, making two bogeys in his first four holes. But he played the next 14 in 8 under – including a birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie stretch starting at No. 15.
“It’s right up there with probably one of my top birdie-eagle stretches,” Simpson said. “It came at a better time than any other streak I’ve had just because we’re not getting anything going all day and everybody else was taking it low. (To) finish the round that way was great.”
“That’s golfing the ball right there,” Gainey said. “I'm just glad to be able to witness it and try to feed off of it. That's all you can ask for.”
Both Simpson and Gainey are looking to become the 12th first-time winner on the PGA TOUR this year. Ditto for John Mallinger, who is tied for third with Carl Pettersson, the 2008 Wyndham Championship winner. Pettersson posted the day’s low round of 63.
As if the win and the Sam Snead Cup weren't enough of an enticement, the final spots in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup are at stake.
If the tournament had ended on Saturday, three players would have played their way into the top 125 in the standings -- and consequently into The Barclays. William McGirt has moved two spots to the bubble spot while Justin Leonard is up 18 to No. 124 and Ernie Els has risen 17 to No. 109.
But 18 holes remain and there are sure to be many fluctuations as the final event of the regular season winds to a conclusion.
Three holes, no pars. In 20 minutes, Tommy Gainey made more bogeys than he had all week.
That's how Gainey, nursing a 36-hole lead that was gone by the time he teed off, started on Saturday at Sedgefield. Carl Pettersson fired an early 63 to catch him at 12 under, then Gainey went out and bogeyed the first two holes to fall back into the pack.
The main culprit? Again, driving accuracy. He bunkered his opening drive and also missed the fairway on the second, leading to back-to-back bogeys. He birdied the par-3 third when he stuck his tee shot to six feet.
To follow Gainey on Shot Tracker, click here.
On Friday afternoon at the Wyndham Championship, the suspense isn’t as much at the top of the leaderboard as it is on the cut line.
Tommy Gainey hasn’t moved from the top spot all day after his morning 65, which moved him to 12 under for the week. Ernie Els is making a late run, at 10 under with one hole to play, but more than likely “Two Gloves” will lead going into Saturday.
But it’s who might not play at all Saturday that is interesting. The cut has been fluctuating between 3 under and 2 under, and if 3 under wins out some players’ hopes for the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup will be dashed. Take Matt Jones – he was No. 122 coming into the week but is currently projected at No. 127. Missing the cut, of course, won’t allow him to gain any ground so he’d be out of the Playoffs (the top 125 qualify for The Barclays, the first Playoffs event).
Billy Mayfair is also at 2 under and projects to No. 119, down from the No. 113 spot he claimed before the Wyndham began. He may turn out to be safe for the Playoffs, but it would make for a nervous weekend if all he can do is watch the scoreboard and not play.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Maybe it's a bit of reverse psychology. But Tommy Gainey certainly didn't talk like the man who is leading the Wyndham Championship on Friday.
Gainey had just finished off a round of 65 that left him owning a three-stroke advantage at 12 under. But he checked his stats -- 8 of 14 fairways, 11 of 18 greens and 24 putts -- and Gainey wasn't particularly pleased by what he saw. The translation? Three more fairways but four fewer greens in regulation than he had the previous day in shooting 63.
"Man, I hit that ball -- I hit it so bad today," Gainey said, leaning forward on the podium and shaking his head. "... I hit it worse today than I did yesterday off the tee. I hit my irons worse than I did yesterday. I thought my iron game yesterday was on top of it. Today it was worse and I think that's got a lot to do with hitting it more out of the rough.
"It's just hard to make birdies when you keep putting yourself ... in the rough. I mean it's not high but it's thick. Just settles straight down and you just got to go after it and the harder you swing at it to get it out, just the more shock that goes into the wrist."
And Gainey's left wrist is somewhat problematic these days after he sprained it hitting out of the rough during the RBC Canadian Open.
"If you can look at my stats, they'll tell you that I haven't hit many fairways since that tournament and I've been struggling off the tee and it's pretty much -- you know, it's been ongoing thing with my wrist not feeling a hundred percent but I'm not going to sit up here and make any excuses," Gainey said. "Everybody out here has to play injured. That's just the way it is."
Gainey, who is headed into the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup for the first time in his career, doesn't plan to change his approach heading into the weekend. He knows better than to get ahead of himself.
"My mindset is when I tee it up I try to win no matter if it's
the first day, last day," Gainey said. "I try to make as many
birdies as I possibly can. That's what this game is all
about. You try to out-birdie everybody else. You make more birdies
than everybody else, you win.
"I haven't really accomplished anything in two days. 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 can happen and one day as we all know, 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."
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Tommy Gainey has never played in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup.
If he goes on to win the Wyndham Championship on Sunday, though, Gainey could move as high as 14th in the standings -- which gives him a great shot at making it through all four and playing in THE TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola for the first time in his career.
Gainey birdied his last two holes at Sedgefield on Friday to finish at 128, which is the second-best opening 36 holes in tournament history. Carl Pettersson shot 125 in 2008 when he went on to win his hometown event.
Gainey owns a three-stroke lead over Webb Simpson and Stuart Appleby as the morning wave in the second round winds to a conclusion.
The 128 total matches the best of Gainey's career, shot earlier this season at the Waste Management Phoenix Open where he held the lead each of the first three rounds but went on to tie for eighth.
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- It will be interesting to see how Tommy Gainey assesses his round on Friday after claiming sole possession of the lead at 11 under at the Wyndham Championship.
Gainey was generally happy with the bogey-free 63 he shot in the first round that left him tied for the lead with Jeff Quinney. At the same time, though, he thought it could have been better.
"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,” Gainey said.
"Anytime you play and shoot 63, you know, made 7 birdies, no bogeys 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."
Friday morning wasn’t that much better, though – at least in terms of finding fairways. He’s hit 6 of 12 through 16 holes but has only found 10 of 17 greens in regulation.
That said, Gainey’s got a two-shot lead so he can’t be too disappointed.