The man they call Two Gloves kept hold of the second-round lead at the frost-delayed Phoenix Open.
Tommy Gainey, whose nickname alludes to his unorthodox style of wearing golf gloves on both hands, put the finishing touches on a 6-under-par 65 late Saturday morning at TPC Scottsdale, giving him a 36-hole score of 14-under.
Gainey followed his eight-birdie, 8-under-par first round with a seven-birdie, one-bogey performance in Round 2, which began for him on Friday and concluded when he played his final nine holes during the first wave on Saturday. Gainey’s score of -14 held up as the best of the tournament through the second round, which was finally completed late Saturday afternoon – 24 hours later than scheduled, after overnight temperatures in the 20s froze the greens and caused lengthy delays on Thursday and Friday.
“My ball-striking is really good,” said Gainey, a folksy, 35-year-old everyman from South Carolina who, prior to Saturday, was best known for his nickname and for winning Golf Channel’s The Big Break VII. “I hit a couple bad shots today, but they wasn’t bad enough to get in any trouble. I always think that’s a good thing because as we all know, golf is a game of misses, so my misses today were pretty good. But I like my position. My ball-striking is good. My putting is on track. I’m making putts. And everybody knows, when you make putts, you’ve got a chance to win.”
Gainey’s score of 14-under gave him a 1-shot advantage after the second round over Mark Wilson (who fired a 7-under-par 64 on Saturday) and a 2-stroke edge over Bill Haas (65 on Saturday). Chris Couch stood alone in fourth at -11, while Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler were another shot back and solidly in contention at -10.
Fowler, a 22-year-old rising star who finished second here last year but was in danger of missing this weekend’s cut after an opening-round 70, posted seven birdies and an eagle in posting the best score of the second round with a 9-under-par 62.
“Obviously I saw some of the scoreboards and knew that I was around the cut line early on and basically had to step on the gas and get going,” said Fowler, who eagled the 13th during a seven-hole, 7-under-par stretch that included birdies at the 11th, 12th, 14th, 16th and 17th.
After the tournament’s second round was completed around 4 p.m. Saturday, the field was cut to 74 players, all of whom stood at 3-under-par or better. The third round began around 4:45 p.m. Saturday, with nobody finishing more than six holes prior to sunset. Twenty-seven players, including the top 10 on the leaderboard, did not begin Round 3 on Saturday.
They’ll finish the third round and likely begin the fourth on Sunday. The final round will conclude on Monday, providing the tournament’s first weather-related, fifth-day finish since 1978, when rain washed out the Sunday round at Phoenix Country Club.
Saturday’s golf was played under brilliant sunshine and 60-degree temperatures. Traditionally the most raucous day of the PGA Tour’s rowdiest tournament, Saturday featured its characteristically boisterous galleries.
The tee-to-green, packed-house gathering at the par-3, stadium-style 16th was treated to a hole-in-one Saturday morning by Jarrod Lyle, a jovial, 29-year-old Australian who aced the 150-yard hole with an 8-iron.
“I thought it was going to fly a little bit too far up there, but when I saw it bounce and then bounce a second time, I thought, ‘This is pretty close,’” Lyle said. “And then it disappeared, and I’m like, ‘Holy hell, it’s in.’ So yeah, just carried on and cheered and screamed, and I think I dropped a naughty word up there. But I was just so excited that I didn’t realize the camera was about 3 feet in front of my face and I dropped an F-bomb, so there might be a letter in my locker next week.”
Then there was local favorite Mickelson, a two-time Phoenix Open champion (1996 and 2005) who followed his opening-round 67 with a 65 on Saturday, and who brought down the house at the 16th by sinking a 30-foot birdie putt.
“That is really a fun hole,” said Mickelson, who was a four-time All-American and a three-time NCAA champion during his collegiate career from 1989 to 1992 at Arizona State University. “I love coming back and playing this tournament, and Saturday is the greatest day here at this Phoenix Open. And there’s not a putt I wanted more to make than that one right there, other than majors, but that putt right there was a big one, and to see that go in with the crowd right there was a great feeling.”
For video from Tommy Gainey’s post-round press conference, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQ-b8r4mDPk
For video from the 16th hole at the Phoenix Open, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApDXccMbxI0
For video of Stephen Ames making a birdie putt on the 16th hole at the Phoenix Open, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNPzuRg-mRU
For video of Lucas Glover making a birdie putt on the 10th hole at the Phoenix Open, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0DUTMbYqSc