Bud Cauley hangs with the young in crowd on the PGA Tour, the spring break crowd.
He is roommates with Justin Thomas, who has already won three times this season on the PGA Tour.
But while Thomas has been living it up with Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Smylie Kaufman this week on #SB2K17 at Baker’s Bay in the Bahamas, Cauley has remained stateside in his efforts to join another exclusive crowd that already includes his friends – PGA Tour winners.
Cauley may have an opportunity to join that club this weekend, as he enters the third round of the 49th RBC Heritage in a tie for fifth at 7-under 135, three shots behind co-leaders Luke Donald and Graham DeLaet.
While his buddies have posted photos of shirtless island debauchery, Cauley has derived much of his enjoyment this week at Harbour Town Golf Links from an opening-round 63. A 1-over 72 Friday still has him in position to contend for a title, however.
“They look like they’re having a pretty good time,” Cauley said. “I had to keep my shirt on [Thursday], but we still had a good time.”
Cauley, 27, who was Thomas’ teammate at Alabama, turned pro in 2011 and appeared to be one of the game’s young stars, finishing 35th in FedExCup points as a PGA Tour rookie in 2012, when he recorded six top-10 and 10 top-25 finishes.
He couldn’t replicate the success in 2013, and his career was derailed in 2014. Cauley injured his shoulder on a drive at the John Deere Classic in July 2014. He earned his lone Web.com win seven weeks later, but soon after had to have surgery.
“My shoulder just slipped out of the socket, just a freak thing,” Cauley said. “I had loose shoulders. … They put anchors in there to keep it in there and all that good stuff.
“It’s something I’ll have to deal with the rest of the career. But as long as I stay up with the physical therapy and do the right things I think I’ll be able to stay healthy and hopefully it will be something 20 years from now I barely remember.”
Cauley didn’t play on the PGA Tour for 15 months from August 2014 to November 2015, and he said it took him quite a while to regain the mobility and put the time in needed to regain the swing he had prior to the injury.
“[Last year] was kind of the first time where I was like, ‘Okay, we’re going to be all right. I can figure this out from here.’ ” Cauley said. “It’s pretty much the same now.”
During his time away from the course following surgery, Cauley said he “watched a lot of Netflix. I was not very productive. I put on some weight. Nothing good. That’s the thing. Some of my other hobbies were things that were kind of active. So other than going to physical therapy and then coming back home and planting myself on the couch there wasn’t too much to do.”
After missing five of his first six cuts this season, Cauley finished third at the CareerBuilder Challenge in late January, but hasn’t recorded another top-25 finish in seven tournaments since. So he’s in Hilton Head instead of on vacation.
Cauley has struggled off the tee this year but had a phenomenal ball-striking day in the first round, leading or tying for the field lead in several categories, including proximity to the hole on approach shots and strokes gained tee to green. His poor driving returned Friday as he hit just 5 of 14 fairways.
A missed opportunity
Tommy Gainey of Bishopville was unable to make full use of a sponsor exemption this week to play in his eighth Heritage.
Gainey shot a 2-under 69 Thursday with five birdies, but had just one birdie and four bogeys in a 74 Friday, including bogeys on three of his first five holes, to miss the cut to the weekend.
“I hit it good and played good [Thursday],” Gainey said. “Today was a different story. I hit it bad. My swing got a little short and got a little fast, and for me that’s where I miss it on both sides when that happens.
“I really appreciate the opportunity [tournament director] Steve Wilmot and RBC gave me this week. It’s my favorite tournament of the year, in my home state with a lot of the home crowd.”
Gainey had 61 putts in two days, which on Harbour Town’s small greens is a lot, and he missed 11 of 28 fairways.
“This is a golf course that I tell people all the time, if you hit it in the trees it will get you. And today I hit it in the trees a lot and it got me,” Gainey said. “That’s why we love this game so much, because we love getting beat in the head every once in a while. You never win at golf you just hope to play it good enough where it doesn’t beat you upside the head some.”
“I’m really disappointed right now because I really wanted to make the cut and play well.”
Gainey, 41, who spent six years on the PGA Tour from 2008-14 and won the 2012 McGladrey Classic at Sea Island, Ga., is playing this year on the Web.com Tour and has about a dozen tournaments left on a major medical exemption. He thus far has a tie for 31st, three missed cuts and a withdrawal in five tournaments. He has also missed three of four cuts in PGA Tour starts this season.
“I just haven’t been able to get the whole game together for four days, and this week you saw it,” Gainey said.
The medical extension stems from a back injury Gainey suffered in the second round last year at Harbour Town. He shot a 69 in last year’s opening round and made birdies on three of his first eight holes in the second round to get within two shots of the lead when his back gave out.
Gainey said he had two herniated disks and two bulging disks, had to withdraw mid-round and missed the rest of the season.
“It’s been a long road but I’ll come back from it, I just haven’t quite gotten there yet,” Gainey said. “But I’ve shown flashes of being good again. I just have to keep working on it, hopefully everything holds up and I can take it to the next level again.”
Gainey, who has an unorthodox homemade swing, doesn’t have a swing instructor and wears two gloves, finished one shot out of a playoff with Brandt Snedeker and Luke Donald in the 2011 Heritage on his way to a third-place finish.
Gainey is entered in the field for next week’s United Leasing & Finance Championship on the Web.com Tour.
We bid adieu
A late collapse Friday by two-time Heritage winner Jim Furyk caused the current U.S. Ryder Cup Team Captain to miss the cut to the weekend.
Furyk, who was playing in his first Heritage since winning in 2015 after missing last year’s event with an injury, was near the top 10 at 4-under par with six holes to play. But he bogeyed four of his final six holes, capped by a three-putt from 30 feet for bogey on the short par-4 ninth hole, and was not among the 74 players to qualify for the weekend at 1-under 141. He finished at even-par 142 with a second-round 74.
Hunter Mahan and Vijay Singh were among the other 11 players who missed the cut by a shot. Others missing the cut were five-time Heritage winner Davis Love III (143), two-time Heritage winner Steward Cink (143), Rafa Cabrera Bello (144), Ernie Els (144), Matthew Fitzpatrick (145), Bryson DeChambeau (146), Charley Hoffman (146), Bill Haas (147), Billy Horschel (148) and 2016 Masters winner Danny Willett (149), who finished ahead of only three players who completed 36 holes.
Something you don’t see every day on the PGA Tour: while players were lining up their putts on the ninth green Friday, they were hit into.
With the threesome of Jason Bohn, Steve Marino and Rafa Cabrera Bello surveying their putts on the 330-yard ninth hole, a ball landed on the front of the green and bounced past them to the edge of the back fringe. The drive was from long-hitting Luke List in the group behind.
“I didn’t think I could get it there,” List said. “The wind was into us off the right and I bombed one. I’ve never had one on the green there. I usually hit it in that [front] bunker if I bomb one. I smoked it but I thought it was going to land in the bunker. I apologized to those guys. They understood. I would never hit into a group if I knew it was in play.”
List converted the drive into a birdie, one of five in his final 14 holes without a bogey, though he missed the cut by a shot.
Marino and Bohn said there were no hard feelings and believed it to be an honest mistake.
“What was surprising was how soft it came up. I don’t know how it landed. We saw a ball rolling. It almost looked like somebody had just tossed one up on the green,” Bohn said. “It was a bit surprising, but that was a heck of a tee shot. I don’t think he believed he could fly it right onto us.”
“But I know Luke can smash it. Luke can fly it right into our head.”
Big Ol’ Jet Airliner
For the fifth time on Saturday, tournament presenting sponsor Boeing will have a flyover of the 18th hole with one of its planes.
A 787-9 Dreamliner that was primarily built at the company’s 743-acre plant in North Charleston is scheduled to cruise over the 18th fairway at 4 p.m.
The plane will soon be delivered to Air France and is the second of three planes in the Dreamliner family. The 787 route is currently Paris to Cairo and the second plane will begin flights from Paris to Montreal.