As I arrive at the University of Maryland Golf Course for the Nationwide Melwood Prince George’s Melwood tournament, I can’t help but relive Tommy Gainey’s breakthrough win here last year. It was a tight race down to the finish, but Tommy Two Gloves prevailed and won for the 1st time on the Nationwide Tour. That win legitimized Tommy’s game and reminded all of us how important heart and determination are in deciding who will make it and who won’t.
Three years ago Tommy graduated to the PGA tour via Q-school. He was an unlikely member who climbed his way onto the top tour and surprised many who are unaccustomed to seeing non pedigreed players with home made swings make it to the ranks of the elite. Tommy was not a product of the AJGA or a Division l golfing powerhouse. There have always been late bloomers, self taught naturals and players who honed their games at public courses without the assistance of top ranked teachers and a country club life. But when Tommy Gainey popped onto the scene known only for his Big Break win, a lot of people thought he was a joke and had no shot. That said, just as many or more people took an immediate liking to Tommy. They liked his no nonsense attitude, his truthfulness, his sincerity and genuine gratefulness for everything.
Last year, at this event, Tommy told me that he was downright embarrassed by his play in 2008, his first year on the PGA tour. That year he only made 6 of 24 cuts and ended up in the horrible 126-150 status that doesn’t guarantee you getting into all the tournaments. He felt like he let his family, friends and sponsors down. He analyzed his game and determined that he had to improve inside 100 yards. His short game, particularly his wedge game was weak. He focused his energy on that part of his game over the winter and came to the 2010 season ready to score. And score he did. Tommy 2 gloves held 2 trophies over his head and earned his way back to the PGA tour finishing #4 the Nationwide Tour money list.
This year on the PGA Tour Tommy has already made enough money to secure his card for next year with 4 top 10 finishes. I will miss watching Tommy this year on the Nationwide Tour and I will especially miss his candid interviews while on the course in the heat of competition. There are never any excuses with Tommy. He’s just a real man playing a sport with the determination of someone who has a lot to prove. Go get ‘em Tommy. I can’t wait to see you get your 1st PGA win and play on the Ryder Cup!