Tommy Gainey is seeking the second win of his career. (Trotman/Getty Images)
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- A new driver and a more positive attitude paid immediate dividends for Tommy Gainey during the first round of The Greenbrier Classic.
Gainey, who has missed more cuts than he's made this year, opted to add Callaway's Optiforce driver to his arsenal this week at The Old White TPC. And the results were dramatic as the South Carolinian hit 13 of 14 fairways in shooting a 62 that left him tied for the early lead with Johnson Wagner.
"I missed one fairway today with this new driver and that says a lot because if I can hit fairways, I can score, I can really play this game," Gainey saidl "All of us can. All these guys out here, if we hit the fairways, we can score. Today with the soft greens, you know, I made some putts."
Indeed. Gainey made eight birdies on Thursday, including four straight as he made the turn, using just 25 putts. His precision with the driver was the key, though -- Gainey had come into the week ranked 150th in driving accuracy, hitting just 56 percent.
"It was big for me," Gainey said. "... Let me tell you, I don't know what other pros will tell you, but in my opinion, the tee ball sets up the rest of your game. If you don't hit it in the fairway, you're just trying to knock it on the green and make par because hitting it out of this rough is no fun.
"Trust me, I've been doing it for the last three years."
Gainey won his first PGA TOUR event last year, parlaying a final-round 60 into the title at The McGladrey Classic. He says his expectations may have caused him to put too much pressure on himself so the man who had one stretch this season where he missed nine of 10 cuts was positively beaming Thursday afternoon.
"Absolutely I surprised myself," Gainey said, assessing his opening round.
That said, Gainey wouldn't be surprised to have someone shoot lower than 62 in the first time. The scoring average for the morning wave in which Gainey played was 69.77, after all, and the first round was played with preferred lies.
"The golf course is really soaked, it's really soft, and with the players that we have out here, when you have soft greens and the rough is not too penal, I mean, you can really score low out there," Gainey said. "I just was one of the lucky ones to make some putts, hit some fairways, and you know, we all know it's all about making putts out here."