When Tommy Gainey
barely missed a final-hole birdie putt that would’ve put him into a playoff at the 2011 RBC Heritage
, the man known as “Two Gloves” (for wearing golf gloves on both hands) briefly felt a flare of disappointment and anger at that near-miss in his favorite PGA Tour tournament.
But then Gainey, a native of Bishopville
who now lives in Camden
and a two-time participant on Golf Channel’s “Big Break” reality series, reassessed his feelings. After all, this ultimate long-shot success story had played well on Sunday in tying for third, a stroke behind Luke Donald and eventual winner Brandt Snedeker.
So instead of throwing his cap – which he appeared ready to do – Gainey instead swept it low in a bow to the cheering galleries at Harbour Town Golf Links’
iconic 18th hole. He walked off with his best payday of 2011 and the sounds of “Tom-my! Tom-my!” ringing in his ears.
The popular golfer with the homemade swing and the unlikely PGA Tour success story – last year Gainey had six top-10 finishes and won nearly $2.2 million – will get another shot at winning his professional golf “home game,” after committing to play in the 44th RBC Heritage, April 12-15.
Gainey is among five recent additions to the Heritage field, joining fellow South Carolinian and 2009 U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover
, plus popular young stars Rickie Fowler, Camilo Villegas and Ben Crane. All will compete for a purse of $5.7 million and first-place prize of $1.026 million.
Glover, who missed much of the start of this season after a knee injury in Hawaii, won last year’s Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, his third Tour victory. He is making his 10th Heritage appearance. Villegas has won three times on the PGA TOUR since turning pro in 2004. The Colombian native won the Honda Classic in 2010 and both the BMW and TOUR Championships in 2008. Villegas has not missed a RBC Heritage since 2006, with a pair of top-ten finishes at Harbour Town.
Fowler, who turned pro in 2009, beat former World No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Kolon Korea Open on the OneAsia Tour last October. A 2007 winner of the Heritage-sponsored Players Amateur, he received a sponsors exemption at Harbour Town in 2008, and has a best finish of eighth (2010) at the Heritage. Crane has competed at Harbour Town eight times with only one missed cut, and has four PGA Tour titles including last year’s McGladrey Classic. Off the golf course, he masterminded the comic “Golf Boys” video with Fowler, Hunter Mahan and Bubba Watson.
Daily tickets and weeklong badges for the 2012 tournament, sponsored by Royal Bank of Canada and presented by Boeing South Carolina, are on sale online at www.rbcheritage.com
or by calling the tournament office at (843) 671-2448.