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April 2 2013

4:23 PM

Gainey working through struggles

After a breakout 2012, Tommy Gainey has struggled to make cuts this year. (Shaw/Getty Images)

By Tim Price, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent

SAN ANTONIO -- Tommy Gainey is proving this week that, somewhere deep down beneath that Southern drawl, lies another voice from off the beaten path. If the cowboy Will Rogers claimed he “never met a man he didn’t like,” two-gloved golfer Gainey has never met a tournament he doesn’t like.

Gainey played in 32 PGA TOUR events last year and is on pace to reach that number again this year. And even though his game got drubbed when he showed up last year at the Valero Texas Open -- he shot 80-84 -- he’s back again at TPC San Antonio to try to break through in Texas.

The Valero Texas Open starts Thursday, and Gainey brought his son to watch during his spring break from elementary school.

“It’s about the love of the game for me,” Gainey said, while his wife applied sunscreen to his son next to the practice putting green. “And it’s all about that boy right there, my son, Thomas. I’m just trying to make a good living and support his future.”

Gainey, 37, is never one to forget his past, and playing golf sure beats working on an assembly line in his native South Carolina. So there’s no use for Gainey to go off, take a sabbatical, to some teaching guru to find a game through that break-the-cookie-cutter-mold swing of his.

After shooting that memorable round-of-a-lifetime of 60 to come from seven shots back to beat Jim Furyk, Davis Love III and David Toms in the final round of The McGladrey Classic last fall, Gainey’s game is nowhere close. He did finish sixth at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, followed that with making the cut at the Sony Open, but didn’t make another cut until finishing 57th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard two weeks ago.

“Just got into a bad slump,” Gainey said. “I’m streaky. Either I’m good, or bad.”

Sure enough, Gainey followed making the cut at Bay Hill by shooting 77-79 last week at the Shell Houston Open. When he shot an opening-round 63 and had the 54-hole lead at WM Waste Management two years ago, he almost fell out of the top 10 when he triple-bogeyed late on the final day.

“There’s no middle ground for me,” Gainey said, “and I’m trying to correct that and quit some of this bad playing. A couple of bad driver swings a round and I make double, or triple. That stops the round.”

Last year in San Antonio, Gainey was 5 over after his opening four holes in windy conditions. Before it was over he made a 9 on the par-4 ninth hole where Kevin Na needed 16 strokes to complete the year before.

Gainey doesn’t complain. He just shows back up.

“It’s just a tough track,” said Gainey. “We’re the best players in the world, so we just suck it up and play. Out here it’s no excuses (because of conditions). You’ve got 14 clubs, and they should do the work for you.”

Work? Gainey isn’t afraid of it.

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