Gainey holds opening-round lead at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic
January 12, 2020
By Preston Smith, PGATOUR.COM
- January 12, 2020
- Tommy Gainey made seven birdies against just one bogey in the opening round at Sandals Emerald Bay GC. (Ben Jared/PGA TOUR)
GREAT EXUMA, The Bahamas — Beginning with a birdie on his first hole of the 2020 season, Tommy Gainey carded a 6-under 66 to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay. Joshua Creel and Dylan Wu sit one stroke off the lead with matching 67s on Sunday. Play was suspended due to darkness at 5:44 p.m. ET and will resume at 7:20 a.m.
“It’s always nice to get off to a good start,” said Gainey. “In these conditions, I consider it a great number. I mean, 6-under out here in these conditions, it’s awesome. I feel great about shooting 6-under today but, you know what, this is just the first day. You can’t win it on the first day but you can lose it.”
The oceanside course experienced sustained wind of 18-24 miles per hour on Sunday with gusts up to 30 miles per hour. While the front nine is more protected by trees lining the fairways, the back nine includes six holes on the ocean.
“You just have to flight your ball out here; if you don’t, the wind is going to just eat it up,” said Gainey. “Out here, as tough as this course is with the wind blowing, you have to flight it … This wind can put a lot of doubt in your mind. For instance, the short par-3 (No. 13) out there, I hit a punch 8(-iron). It was like 121 or 123 (yards) and I hit a punch 8(-iron) and that’s my 180-185 club.”
The 44-year-old is making his 108th start on the Korn Ferry Tour to go along with 200 career starts on the PGA TOUR. Gainey has two victories on the Korn Ferry Tour (both in 2010) and won The RSM Classic on the PGA TOUR in 2012. Even with an impressive resume, Gainey entered the week looking to hang on in windy conditions.
“Before the round, I would’ve taken even-par and not even teed it up this week,” said Gainey. “If you gave me even-par for four days, I wouldn’t have even teed it up.”
University of Central Oklahoma alum Joshua Creel posted a 5-under first round to sit T2. The 29-year-old credited growing up in the wind with preparing him for similar conditions.
“I grew up in windy Wyoming and live in windy Oklahoma now,” said Creel. “The wind is something I’ve dealt with my whole life. I wouldn’t call it an advantage, but I don’t mind playing in it.”
Dylan Wu finished the morning wave with back-to-back birdies to sit T2. The Northwestern University alum is entering his first full season on the Korn Ferry Tour after playing 13 events last season.
“I think what kick-started my round was parring the first three holes on the back nine,” said Wu. “You could easily play a lot of good shots and be 3-over. I birdied No. 13 and I made about a 35-footer when it was pretty windy on that hole; that was probably the highlight of the round.”
Top-3 shots from Round 1 at the Great Exuma