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.