CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Bishopville native and Hartsville resident Tommy Gainey wants to play about as much as he can to earn his place on the PGA Tour next season with a finish inside the top 125 on the money list – he’s 131st – but he has more pressing matters.
Gainey, who missed the cut in the Wells Fargo Championship on Friday with a 76-76–152, and his wife, Erin, are expecting their first child on May 22, though Gainey believes the baby may be early. He has a son, Thomas, 6, from a previous relationship.
“We’ll see how it goes,” he said. “I can’t look forward to any tournament right now after this week.” Gainey did not qualify for The Players Championship field next week.
Gainey has been playing on a two-year exemption earned by winning the 2012 McGladrey Classic at Sea Island Resort in Georgia by a shot with a final-round 60. It was the penultimate event on the 2012 schedule and saved his tour membership.
Last year he missed 14 cuts in 28 events, though he finished the season making 7 of 8. But he was unable to carry any momentum to the 2013-14 season and has missed 9 of 17 cuts with a pair of withdrawals because of a right elbow injury he’s been dealing with all year.
He had a cortisone shot in it prior to the Valspar Championship in mid-March, and a doctor has told him he has tennis elbow as well as a piece of cartilage trapped between a joint and bone.
“It’s been a problem this year and it has shown with the scores I’ve shot,” said Gainey, who has received treatment and tried to rest the elbow periodically. “Hopefully it’s going to come back around soon.”
Gainey said he hasn’t seriously considered having surgery after his child is born and returning in 2014-15 on a medical extension. “I want [surgery] to be a last resort, because a lot of guys have surgery and they disappear for a couple years before they start playing well again,” he said. “I’m 38, I don’t want to disappear for two years. The good side of that is if I disappeared I could spend a lot of time with the family. That would be the only good thing about that.”
Gainey needs some momentum this season, and he thought he had it coming off a season-best tie for eighth last week at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, sandwiching rounds of 66 and 67 inside a pair of 71s.
He was even par through 15 holes Thursday at Quail Hollow Club after a run of four birdies in five holes on the front nine before making bogeys on 16 and 17 and a double on the 18th to close out a 76, and he never made a run at the cut Friday.
“I felt really good about my game and I still feel good about my game,” Gainey said. “I felt today it was better, it was a lip out here, a lip out there. If the ball goes in you’re going to be OK; if it doesn’t you miss cuts.”
The former assembly line worker who wrapped insulation around hot water tanks for A.O. Smith and two-time participant on the Golf Channel series “The Big Break” won twice on the Web.com Tour in 2010 to earn his PGA Tour card. Two Gloves – as he’s known because of his penchant for wearing golf gloves on both hands – had a good 2011 rookie season with nearly $2.2 million earned and four third-place finishes.
He said he’s not feeling the pressure to retain his card. “I feel I’m close to playing really good,” he said. “It showed a little bit last week. Right now I still feel I’m close to shooting some good numbers consistently, I just have to get just a little bit better chipping and have to get some putts to fall.”
Contact ALAN BLONDIN at 626-0284.