Oct 22 (Reuters) - Using an unconventional swing that has been compared to a man trying to kill a snake with a garden hose, American Tommy Gainey struck a blow for the ‘everyman’ golfer with his one-shot victory at the McGladrey Classic.
A veteran of virtually every mini-circuit in the United States over the past two decades, the 37-year-old finally claimed his first PGA Tour title after closing with a stunning 10-under-par 60 on the Seaside layout at Sea Island, Georgia.
Gainey charged past tour veterans Jim Furyk and Davis Love III on Sunday, and afterwards he recalled a conversation he had with Furyk last year which gave him a welcome jolt of confidence about his own unusual baseball-style swing.
Furyk, a 16-times winner on the PGA Tour, also wields his golf club in unorthodox, loopy fashion and he told Gainey never to change his swing while they played nine holes in practice before the 2011 PGA Championship.
“Who knows what would have happened if we didn’t play nine holes together, or even had a talk?” Gainey told reporters after winning the third of four events in the PGA Tour’s Fall Series.
”He said, ‘Man, don’t change your game. Just keep going at it. You got the game to be out here and to win. Just keep your head up and just keep trying, and sooner or later it’s going to happen.’
“I know I‘m 37, considered a veteran maybe, but I‘m still young when it comes to out here. When you’ve got a player like Jim Furyk, or anybody else of that stature that wants to help you, it’s definitely in my favour to listen.”
Furyk’s encouragement eventually paid off for Gainey, and the American journeyman has no intention of ever changing a swing once described in unflattering fashion by Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee.
“He said something like, it ‘looks like he’s trying to kill a snake with a garden hose’,” Gainey recalled.
“I look at it as it’s what I’ve got. It’s what I‘m working with. I don’t need to change it. It works for me. Look at Jim Furyk. How many people do you think tried to change his swing?”
Gainey, who worked as an assembly line worker in his native South Carolina before switching his focus to professional golf, has paid his dues on several satellite circuits over the years.
”I played them all,“ he smiled. ”The Tarheels tour, the Grey Goose Gateway Tour, the Hooters Tour, the U.S. Pro Golf Tour, the Teardrop Tour.
“You just look at all the players that played those tours, a lot of them are out here on the PGA Tour. So that just tells you what kind of strength those fields had.”
Asked if he had ever considered quitting competitive golf, Gainey replied: ”Yeah, I thought about it. Just look at 2008 and 2009, those would be two good examples for you.
“In 2008 I missed like 13 or 14 straight cuts. I ended up making maybe five cuts that year. I had one good showing and that was the last tournament of the year at Disney, and I get beat by Davis (Love).”
Gainey finished second at the 2008 Disney Classic, just one stroke behind Love, after closing with a 64.
“In ‘09, the same thing,” Gainey said. “I think I made like six cuts. When you go through two streaks like that, the first thing on my mind is, ‘Well, am I good enough?’ But I tell you what, I like playing out here on the PGA Tour too much.” (Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)