Tommy Gainey has made more than a few memorable shots in his brief but colorful professional golf career. Topping the list – at least for now – is a chip-in for eagle on a par-5 during his final-round 60 at last year’s McGladrey Classic at Sea Island, Ga., where he won his lone PGA Tour title.
Come Sunday, the Bishopville native could have a new No. 1.
Thursday in the opening round of the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing
– Gainey’s favorite tournament behind only the Masters – the man known as “Two Gloves” for wearing golf gloves on both hands hit the shot of the day. His 184-yard, 8-iron shot at Harbour Town Golf Links’
iconic par-4 18th hole – his ninth hole of the day – bounced in the green’s fringe and rolled some 30 feet into the cup … for eagle-2.
Gainey, who high-fived caddie David Robinson afterward (the shot and reaction, caught by WSAV-TV reporter Ken Slats, can be viewed on the station’s website
), thus capped a 3-under par 33. His second nine, a 2-over 37 for a 1-under 70 total, was less inspiring.
“Eighteen, let’s just say it was the highlight of my day,” Gainey said. “I got a good bounce, hit on the green and just rolled right in. So I guess you could say it’s a perfect shot.
“I didn’t know until the crowd went crazy that it took a nosedive,” he said. “I was happy to hear the noise.”
Gainey’s eagle was only the third recorded at No. 18 in the RBC Heritage’s 45th year. Aaron Baddeley did it during his second round when he won the 2006 tournament by a shot over Jim Furyk. Steve Lowry also eagled the 18th hole during 2010’s final round.
Gainey, who finished a shot out of a playoff at the 2011 RBC Heritage, offset his glory shot with a double-bogey at the par-3 fourth. Still, his round left him five shots behind leader Brian Davis – hardly a calamity.
“No way,” he said. “I feel like I’m right in there. (Let’s) just see what happens (Friday).” He knows what he’d like to happen after that, too: “Come Sunday afternoon, if I win this golf tournament, I’m going to say it’s right up there with the one” at Sea Island.
Davis' good karma: When Brian Davis put the wraps on his 6-under par 65 to lead the first round, it was the most attention for the Englishman at Harbour Town since a less-pleasant day three years ago.
In the final round of the 2010 RBC Heritage, Davis assessed himself a penalty for brushing a reed with his backswing at the 18th hole, in essence handing the title to winner Jim Furyk. Doing so – and especially in light of Tiger Woods’ penalty brouhaha at last week’s Masters – cost him a shot to win, but earned him widespread admiration.
“Obviously, it’s more the public does (mention that to him) than the players,” Davis said. “As players, we’re aware of what others do on the Tour, and then we put it to bed.
“I still have people stop me in the street or at the golf club or at airports. People do remember it, but for me, I’m just trying to move on from that, trying to win a golf tournament.”
Thursday’s start might help Davis at that. Regardless, he said it was good for at least one reason. “I’d like to do something else in this tournament so I don’t get remembered just for (2010),” he said, drawing laughter.
Ernie Els has become almost as well known in recent years for his support of autism research as for his 2012 come-from-behind win at the British Open. It’s a cause near and dear to his heart ever since Els’ soon-to-be 11-year-old son, Ben, was diagnosed with a severe case of the condition.
On Friday, the RBC Heritage will highlight Els’ campaign and his Els for Autism Foundation by distributing blue-and-white puzzle-ribbon pins, which spectators can obtain for a $5 donation to the foundation. Els and other players are wearing blue ribbons on their headgear, and Els is wearing blue shirts and a blue lions-head cover on his driver, all to promote awareness of a disorder that afflicts one in 88 youngsters in the U.S.
“April is Autism Month, so we really wanted to take this opportunity through the tournament and the help of RBC and Boeing to just bring out the awareness,” Els said. “It’s a family week, and our family has been affected by (autism, and) there’s a lot of other families round the world, around the country, that have been affected by it.”
The pins and a pamphlet on autism are being distributed “so people who know something about autism, it will ring a bell,” he said. “And people that don’t know anything about it will be made more aware of what autism is, what it’s like, how we treat it, what the symptoms are, and all that stuff.”
Harbour Town Golf Links will host an Els for Autism Golf Challenge event on Sept. 9, the second such event for the course. For information, go to www.e4aGolf.com
. For more information on autism, go to www.elsforautism.com
Friday’s fly-over of Harbour Town’s 18th fairway by a Boeing 747-8 jet will take place at noon. The flight was erroneously reported to be taking place at 2 p.m. A 787 from nearby Charleston performed a fly-over in 2012. … The PGA Tour Wives Association is celebrating its 25th year with a 384-page book, “Beyond the Fairways and Greens: A Look Inside the Lives of PGA Tour Families.” The $50 volume (proceeds benefit PGA Tour Wives charities) has profiles of players and their families – including South Carolina products Dustin Johnson, Jonathan Byrd, D.J. Trahan and Charles Warren and their significant others – plus 134 recipes from the families. Several players and wives are on hand to discuss the book this week at the RBC Heritage. For information or to purchase the books, email email@example.com