PGA Tour Confidential: Tommy 'Two Gloves' Gainey wins McGladrey Classic
Every Sunday night, the editorial staff of the SI Golf Group conducts an e-mail roundtable. Check in every week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation in the comments section below.
Charlie Hanger, executive editor, Golf.com: Tommy Two Gloves (I think he should drop the Gainey altogether) went nuts today, shooting 60 to win the McGladrey Classic. With his homemade golf swing, he is a refreshing anomaly on today's PGA Tour. What pro has/had your all-time favorite unconventional golf swing?
Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: Have always admired Fred Couples's double-jointed swing. Ray Floyd had an almost directly opposite, mechanical-looking action that was equally effective. Couples and Floyd were opposites in many ways but they made a formidable pairing back in the '90s.
Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: As Two Gloves points out himself, all these good golfers are conventional at impact. Raymond was and Furyk is and Gloves is, too. Raymond got the most done. People might say Trevino's move wasn't out of a textbook, but it was beautiful and the shots he hit were even more so.
Herre: There are similarities between Trevino and Furyk's swing, but both had beautiful rhythm. Gainey simply takes a rip.
Stephanie Wei, contributor, SI Golf+: Or "trying to kill a snake with a garden hose," as Tommy said Brandel Chamblee described it last year.
Mike Walker, senior editor, Golf Magazine: Lee Trevino is the best example that a swing you can trust > a swing that looks perfect.
Herre: Trevino was so creative with that figure-8 swing, but he lived and died with a cut shot. He could hit any fairway with it.
David Dusek, deputy editor, Golf.com: I admired Lee Trevino's homemade swing because it was so functional. Trevino owned it, had faith in it, and regardless of how it looked, he won multiple majors with it.
Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: Miller X-Man Barber had a crazy swing. For total craziness, though, I gotta go with Josh Broadaway from the Web.com tour, who swings cross-handed. I tried it once and couldn't even bring it back past about hip high.
Jeff Ritter, senior producer, Golf.com: I always enjoy seeing clips of Arnie's funky follow-through. Also, for sheer entertainment, there's still something exciting about watching Daly take the club so far past parallel in his backswing. It may not go where he wants it to, but you know Daly's hitting it with everything he's got.
Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Arnold Palmer went at the ball like he was in a fight, then he held it off at the finish. His unique swing simply made playing the game seem more manly. The way he tilted his head on the follow-through was a nice added classic touch.
Herre: And Arnie's hitch of the pants -- Furyk's copied that tic.
Morfit: Furyk is easily identified from 200 yards because of that pre-shot pants-hitch.
Bamberger: That's so true about Arnold's head tilt, Gary. Jim Thorpe had a similar move, like a smash and hold. Arnold once told me if he could live his life over again, he'd have tried . . . lefthand-low putting, "like that Jimmy Furyk."
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: What pro of all time has your favorite unconventional swing?
DON'T THINK, HIT
Hanger: Chamblee, as we all know, is a big fan of the guys who learned to play on the course instead of under the tutelage of a swing guru with a video camera. He made an interesting point today on Golf Channel, saying that the guys who are "addicted to an idea" for their swings are slower because they're processing swing thoughts, while the homemade guys are faster players. Do you see any truth to the idea that overcoaching is slowing down play on tour?
Herre: Definitely. The homemade guys are focused on getting the ball in the hole. Reminds me of the old Sam Snead story. He never worried about mechanics. When asked how he hit a draw, he said, "I think draw." He didn't spend a lot of time obsessing about the minutia of his draw takeaway.
Bamberger: The great Patty Sheehan once said the same thing while giving a clinic with Tom Kite. Kite says to hit a draw, I do this, this and this. To hit a fade, I do this, this and this. He says, "Patty, what do you do to hit draws and fades?" Patty said: "When I want to hit a draw, I think draw, and when I want to hit a fade, I think fade."
Van Sickle: It'd be nice, just for a day, to have that kind of utter control over the ball to be able to just think what you want to do and then do it. It's too bad we can't watch the 30-year-old Slammer play tour golf on TV. That'd be something. I'm glad someone has come out this year with Slammin Sam' Beer," The Smoothest Beer in Golf, just to keep his name alive. He was one of a kind.
Morfit: What Snead said is so right. It's about see the shot, hit the shot. That's golf at its simplest, best and fastest.
Bamberger: No question, the guy who owns his swing plays way faster. Watson, Daly, Rory, to name three. Jimenez. Tiger was so much faster in 2000. But Furyk owns his, and he's painfully slow, so it's hard to generalize too much. And Nicklaus always knew what he wanted to do and took forever to get there. A lot of it is personality type.
Van Sickle: Brandel might be right. One thing that definitely slows down players today, however, is the addiction to "a routine." That may not be tied to a swing thought, but the psychologists have sold this "keep the same routine" thing for so long. It seems much worse on the LPGA, where players seem incapable of just stepping up and hitting a shot without going through their whole presentations.
Hanger: I think Michael's onto something with the personality type. You can have one swing thought (or even a short routine) and still play quickly, and you can be self-taught and still take forever. I don't think it's a major source of the slow-play problem.
Dusek: The game is called "golf," not "golf swing." At the end of the day, guys who have a repeatable swing and understand how to play the game seem to do best. Maybe that develops under the eyes of a watchful teacher, but there's a lot to be said for going out every day and honing your own swing and playing holes. Lots and lots and lots of holes against good players.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Is overcoaching part of the reason slow play has become such a problem?
HOW FAR CAN GAINEY GO?
Hanger: Gainey shot 60 early in the day and edged three players who are past their primes -- Love, Toms and Furyk. But does he have the game to beat the Tour's best players on one of its biggest stages?
Herre: Gainey's a grinder for the ages and I wouldn't bet against him in a money game, but over 72 holes under major pressure? No.
Bamberger: The easy answer is no, but the fun answer is yes. I say yes.
Herre: You're a romantic, Michael.
Walker: It was a big first PGA Tour win for a guy who's been close a lot. Gainey is a refreshing personality on Tour. It would be great to see him compete at bigger events.
Van Sickle: If John Daly can do it twice … Anybody who has enough game to shoot 60 in competition can have a hot week anywhere. It seems a lot less likely that it would happen at a major, but all it takes is the right week and the right setup. Sometimes, a major course is so difficult that nobody can make birdies. That's when you usually see the unexpected winner. Orville Moody won an Open. So did Lou Graham. Shaun Micheel won a PGA. I wouldn't bet on Two Gloves to win a major, but I'd never say that he, or any other entrant, couldn't win. I believe they can.
Herre: You're right, Gary. I say the odds are long against a guy like Gainey, and that Daly is much more talented. However, if you are good enough to play on the PGA Tour, you are good enough to win on any given week.
Van Sickle: Daly was a superior talent, absolutely. No comparison. But funny things happen in golf. Ask Jack Fleck.
Wei: The odds are no for Gainey, but what he did Sunday was pretty crazy, and he's such a likeable character that I'll go with yes. I love a good underdog.
Dusek: Gainey's not ready to win the big one yet, but that's OK. First he got himself on the PGA Tour, and then he started getting his name on the leaderboard on Thursday and Fridays. The next step was getting into contention, which he's done a few times. After that, it's about winning. I have no feel for how much inherent talent Gainey has, but my gut tells me he's a win-every-few-years kind of player and someone who will keep his accountant busy.
Bamberger: Payne Stewart had the ultimate homemade swing. He couldn't tell you a thing about it, but it was a joy to watch and kept time like a fine watch.
Van Sickle: How about Sandy Lyle? His swing was no beauty and he had no idea what he was really doing, yet he won two majors and was probably the best player in the world for a two-year stretch in the late '80s.
Bamberger: Sandy learned the game from his father, a club pro, whose main instruction to him was, "Make it pretty, Sandy." A claret jug and a green coat are certainly pretty.
Wei: And what about Bubba Watson? He's won a Masters and three other Tour events. He's missed 3 cuts in 19 starts this year and his worst finish after four rounds was T23. That's pretty darn good.
Van Sickle: I think a homemade swing may actually be an advantage in many ways. We've been talking about the ownership thing. I think that's huge.
Wei: When Furyk greeted Tommy in the scoring area, he gave him a big hug and they shared some words. I heard Tommy say, "Thanks for the talk." I asked him about it in his press conference (which, by the way, was in my top three for the year), and he described what Furyk told him during a nine-hole practice round at the PGA: "He said, 'Tommy, you know, when you were on the mini tours, you were kicking their tail, and now you get out here and you struggle a little bit.' He said, 'Man, don't change your game. Just keep going at it.' …Who knows what would have happened if we didn't play nine holes together?"
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Does Gainey have the game to contend in the majors?
IF THEY BAN THE BELLY ...
Hanger: It seems the anchoring ban is a foregone conclusion, and we've beaten this topic to death over the past few years. Our opinions are all on the record. (Quick review of my take: Bollocks!) So here are two forward-looking questions: 1. Will the belly brothers be able to compete if they can no longer anchor? 2. Will the anchoring major winners (Ernie Els, Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley) be seen as lesser champions for having used a method that was later outlawed?
Walker: 1. I don't think Bradley, Simpson and Scott will have too many problems going back to traditional putters. The long putter isn't a cure-all. If you can putt effectively with it, you can putt effectively with a traditional putter. 2. Can't imagine they'd be seen as lesser champions. They still came through when it counted.
Wei: 1. Hard to say, but with a few exceptions, I think they may not be as competitive as they were without the anchor. Usually, you go belly only if you have to. If you could putt as well with a conventional putter, why would you anchor? 2. No, they should not be seen as lesser champions. That notion is ridiculous. They won fair and square when it was legal.
Bamberger: The ones who basically became golfers with the belly will have a hard time. Imagine using a wooden driver if you'd never used one before? No problem at all for those who won with it. Like Bob Gibson's era, when they lowered the mound.
Dusek: I echo Micheal's thoughts and believe that golfers who have used a belly putter for a long time -- like Brendon Steele who started using one in college -- will have a tougher time, but these guys are all pros and they'll find a way to putt. It will just take some a longer time than other and a few guys will be more successful than others. That's sports. As for thinking less of guys who used a belly to win a major ... no way. They're major winners. Period.
Herre: The guys who anchor will adapt and innovate. If there's no limit to the length of a putter -- and it would be a major oversight if there isn't -- the sky's the limit as to what styles could be concocted. Just today I saw an infomercial on sidesaddle, non-anchored belly putting, and it seemed to make sense (both eyes looking directly at the hole).
Van Sickle: I think the next putting fad will be sidesaddle, and it's not a bad way to go. And if the USGA thinks anchored putting looks bad...
Ritter: Pros should be able to adapt to a new putter rule, but you have to wonder how much success guys like Keegan, B. Haas and Webb would have with a traditional flatstick. I mean, there's a reason they were using long putters to begin with, right? The success of belly converts will be a very interesting story to track if the ban happens.
Van Sickle: Nobody in the future is going to care how they won, to answer the second question. But the players who use belly putters, and definitely the long putters, will have a serious adjustment to make. I expect several variations of the belly stroke to catch on. I also think this would be a terrible, too-late and wrongheaded decision. I'd love to see some PGA Tour players, maybe even the PGA Tour, stand up and say, hey, maybe it's time to make our own rules.
Hanger: I think there will be some purists, the same ones pushing for the ban, who will consider the anchorers to be lesser champs, and borderline cheaters. I also think that's ridiculous, but some will put a mental asterisk next to those major victories.
Van Sickle: Doubtful but possible. Not that many fans can even tell you who putts with what, much less remember that in 10 years.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Will the long-time belly-users be able to compete if the anchored putters are banned? Will the belly-users' accomplishments be diminished if their putting style becomes illegal?
THIS WEEK'S MAIN EVENTS
Hanger: Which are you most looking forward to this week, Tiger in Malaysia or Rory in Shanghai? And who wins the Tiger-Rory exhibition match in China?
Van Sickle: Neither. The Grand Slam of Golf might be more interesting. Personally, I'll be checking out the World Long Drive Championship in Mesquite, Nev. Now there's a place to see some incredible and unique swings. Last year's runner-up had his shaft pointing straight down at the top of his backswing.
Herre: Couple of brand-building exhibitions in Malaysia and Shanghai. Who wins? Who cares? It will be interesting to see if there's any heat in the Tiger-Rory match. Probably not. They may be doing commercials together before next season starts.
Walker: Tiger is still the more compelling athlete, but I'll pick McIlroy in the exhibition. Unless he brings his girlfriend.
Bamberger: Neither means much to me. Alan's reports from points East will be the best part.
Wei: I'm much more interested in the hit-and-giggle tournament I'm playing with my stepdad in Thailand. I liked the idea of the Tiger-Rory match, but now it just seems like it'll be the same ol' thing. They'll laugh and chat and goof around like they usually do. It's not going to be a Sunday singles at the Ryder Cup.
Dusek: Honestly, I'm finding it hard to get pumped up for yet another Tiger-Rory head-to-head match. They've played so much together since the PGA Championship that it doesn't seem as special to me as it should. I'll be more interested in the tournament that features the most compelling field.
Walker: These events aren't meaningless to Woods and McIlroy. With his heritage, I think it's important to Tiger that he puts on a good show when he comes to Asia.
Wei: I think what's more important is the (I presume) seven-figure check they're both getting for showing up.Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Which event are you more excited to see: Tiger in Malaysia or Rory in Singapore?
Correction: An earlier version of this article said that Rory McIlroy would be playing in Singapore this week. He's playing in the BMW Masters in Shanghai.