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Gainey surges with 'garden hose' swing

If you want to see golf played the way an artist might paint it - elegant golf, golf that should be viewed with a flute of champagne in hand, look around you at the Wells Fargo Championship this week. It's all over the Quail Hollow Club property.

But if you want to see golf played from the gut, golf that gets right to the point, find Tommy "Two Gloves" Gainey. He'll be the only one wearing two gloves because he's just not comfortable with one and, anyway, if he wore only one, it would be a waste of a perfectly good nickname.

He's a 35-year-old South Carolina guy with a swing that TV network commentator Brandel Chamblee, a former pro, good-naturedly said looks like he's trying to kill a snake with a garden hose. It's a swing that has a little baseball in it, a swing that top instructors David Leadbetter or Hank Haney has never touched, only his brother Allen.

It is also a swing that has earned him top three finishes in the past two tournaments, four top 10s and more than $1million in prize money this year.

"I don't worry about what people say about my swing," said Gainey. "I know it's unorthodox, I know it's ugly, but it works. It's comfortable for me, and that's just something I've always done. You know, I was always told - and I'm sure all you guys know, and ladies - if it's not broke, don't fix it."

His approach is so simple, he says he doesn't have a swing thought when he stands over the ball, doesn't think about which part goes where - just hit it in the fairway or on the green and start walking. It's just golf.

Gainey's journey to the big time has been a bumpy one that has rambled through minor tours, missed cuts and a period when he worked on an assembly line for a living. We've heard dozens of stories like his, but most of them don't have a happy ending. They die in qualifying school or double bogeys or rent that comes due.

But Gainey's putter has been kinder to him this year, and his confidence has grown. So have his galleries.

Now, he and his "garden hose" swing are in the clouds.

"To me, this is the best job in the world," he said. "Playing golf out here is everything to me. I love the game. I just love playing golf."

Gainey has not made any memories in Charlotte in the past, but he might this week.

"Right now, I'm on a hot streak," he said, "and I'm going to ride it out as far as I can. I'm playing the best golf of my life right now. I feel like I'm ready to put it to use. I feel like I've got a chance to win. ..."

I asked him if this is the first time he's been a millionaire. He smiled at the thought and said, "Yep, my first time. It might change what I drive and where I live, but it won't change me."

That's a good thing.

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