November 1 2013
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM contributor
• COURSE: Sea Island GC (Seaside), 7,005 yards, par 70. A true oceanside layout at the southern tip of St. Simons Island, the course dates back to a nine-hole track built in 1929 by English architects Harry Colt and Charles Alison. Bobby Jones once described Seaside as among the best nine holes he’d ever encountered. Joe Lee designed the “Marshside Nine” in 1973, and Tom Fazio was commissioned to bring the two together in 1999. Framed against tidal creeks, dunes and salt marshes, Seaside places a premium on shot selection and sound course management.
• FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 500 points.
• CHARITY: Special Olympics and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeast Georgia, highlighting the host Davis Love Foundation’s mission of supporting programs that focus on children and families. Some three dozen other charities receive funding through the tournament’s “Birdies Fore Love” pledge program.
• FIELD WATCH: Matt Kuchar and Zach Johnson, St. Simons Island neighbors who skipped the WGC-HSBC Champions in China to be fresh for their home event, join tournament host Davis Love III atop the marquee. … Webb Simpson, who rose to No.16 in the Official World Golf Ranking after winning in Las Vegas, gives the event three of the top 16 players world. … The St. Simons Island delegation also includes FedEx St. Jude Classic titleholder Harris English, former U.S. Open champ Lucas Glover and Jonathan Byrd. … Just three men will arrive direct from the WGC-HSBC Champions in China, two of them PGA TOUR winners in 2013: Brian Gay (Humana Challenge) and Boo Weekley (Crowne Plaza Invitational). Scott Piercy also will make the trip.
• 72-HOLE RECORD: 264, Tommy Gainey (2012).
• 18-HOLE RECORD: 60, Tommy Gainey (4th round, 2012).
• LAST YEAR: Gainey claimed his first PGA TOUR win in scorching fashion, breaking the course record with a 10-under 60 that propelled him past several marquee names and denied Love a hometown victory. Gainey birdied seven of his first 14 holes, then grabbed the lead at the par-5 15th when he holed out from a greenside bunker for eagle. Another birdie at No.16 put Gainey on the brink of a historic 59, but he couldn’t get long birdie tries to fall. It still was enough for a one-stroke victory over David Toms, who also closed quickly with a 63. Jim Furyk, who shared the 54-hole lead with Love, was another shot back after a 69. Love’s closing 71 left him tied for fourth.
• STORYLINES: Despite losing some top names to travel concerns from a WGC stop halfway across the globe, plenty of top names still enjoy coming to the idyllic Georgia coast. Each of the past two editions have featured Sunday charges – Ben Crane in 2011, then Gainey last year. … The event continues to seek its first hometown winner, after Love couldn’t convert a share of the 54-hole lead last year. His tie for fourth is the best finish by a St. Simons Island pro. … With FedExCup points at stake this year, Simpson has a chance to take a commanding lead if he can score his second win of the new season.
• SHORT CHIPS: Gainey’s Sunday 60 was just the third to be posted in the final round of a PGA TOUR event. Grant Waite did it first at the 1996 Phoenix Open, duplicated by Steve Lowery at the Buick Challenge a year later. … With Frys.com Open winner Jimmy Walker taking a week’s rest, no one remains with perfect attendance in the new season. … Love’s three starts as tournament host have resulted in a share of 33rd (2010), missed cut (2011) and tie for fourth (2012).
• TELEVISION: Thursday-Sunday, 1-4 p.m. (Golf Channel).
• RADIO: Thursday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. ET (PGATOUR.COM and SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio).