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May 3, 2011

Tom Gainey


MARK STEVENS: We'd like to welcome Tommy Gainey. You're about to make your third start here at the Wells Fargo Championship. Talk about your thoughts coming in.
TOMMY GAINEY: Well, let's just start off by saying what a great golf course, first of all. Quail Hollow is a golf course you'd better hit it well. The ball-striking better be at its best because if you spray it on this golf course, you won't be around for just two days. The greens have a lot of slope in them. I'm sure they'll get to 11 to 12 this week.
I feel like coming off of two 3rds 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, so that's what it's all about.

Q. How many weeks have you played now?
TOMMY GAINEY: I've taken one week off. I've taken Puerto Rico off was the tournament. I can't tell you what date it was or anything, but you know, early on I missed three cuts in a row, so I had a lot of time off then. You know, I've taken one week off, and I'm going to take another week off here soon. But if you look at the schedule, you know, I'm not in THE PLAYERS yet. I'm like first alternate right now. I mean, it could change -- it's probably a 99 percent chance of me getting in. I would have to say yes, I would get in next week. But there also is a chance that I might not get in, so if I don't get in there, then I'll just take next week off, and I'll be ready for the two Texas tournaments, the Byron Nelson and The Colonial.

Q. Has your schedule been more physically or mentally taxing?
TOMMY GAINEY: I would probably say mentally, because I think when you hear Tiger say, I'm just mentally drained and some of these other top players say, well, I am mentally drained after playing an Open or a real tough golf tournament, I can see what they mean now, because just the energy that you have to use in thinking around the golf course. The last two weeks for me, it's drained a lot out of me. Not physically; I mean, I'm physically in pretty good shape; if I could lose a few pounds I'd feel a lot better, but we won't get into that. But I'm mentally drained because I've had two 3rds in a row, and to play at that high of a level, it takes a lot out of you as far as thinking around the golf course, and the golf management comes into play, as well.

Q. Along those same lines, you're someone who has really worked hard to get your TOUR card and maintain your TOUR card. Can you sort of expound upon the grind it is day in and day out, mental and physical, to perform at that high level to stay on the PGA TOUR?
TOMMY GAINEY: Well, I'll tell you, man, nothing is easy out here. Nothing is given. You earn everything you get out here. Nothing is given. You've got to earn it. And that's why I guess you can count me as one of the top players in the world being out here now. That's why we're all the best players in the world, because we're good or really good at what we do. To be at a high level you've got to be on top of your game every day and every tournament because as soon as you slack off a little bit, that's when you miss a cut, and that's when you can start a downward spiral, so to speak.
I kind of like making cuts and making a lot of money and finishing in the top 5 and trying to have a chance to win a golf tournament. You know, I don't want to miss cuts. I mean, who does?

Q. You talk about playing your best golf now. Why do you think you're playing your best now?
TOMMY GAINEY: Well, I would have to say the reason that I feel like I'm playing my best golf ever is I feel like my ball-striking is better than it was last year, and I'm making putts. You know, the putts that I'm making now, last year I would have missed cuts on the Nationwide Tour, and this year I'm making cuts on the PGA TOUR and I'm making cuts. You know, there's a big difference in when you make a ten-footer for par to get in on the weekend versus missing that ten-footer and then you've got to travel to the next site. You know, I feel like my short game has improved quite a bit, and that's one of the reasons why I'm inside the top 100, because my short game has showed up this year, and I have four top 10s to show for it.

Q. Looking at your schedule ahead, you had off two weeks, Augusta and Puerto Rico, in the last 17. Is that a product do you think that in previous years you've had to play in as many tournaments as you could get in to try to keep your card? Is that maybe why you've played so much? And now that you have the luxury, are you going to try to maybe step back and pick some tournaments and try to take a few days off here and there?
TOMMY GAINEY: I mean, I could see that point, but I would have to say no, and I'll tell you why. The reason that I like to play golf is I love the game. I love what the game stands for, and I love that I'm part of being on the PGA TOUR. I love what the PGA TOUR stands for. And it's good that when you can come out here and have a chance to win how much it means every week. There's a lot of people that are jealous that I'm on the PGA TOUR and they're not, you know, because to me this is the best job in the world. I mean, there's nothing that I would rather do better than what I'm doing right now, and I feel like God has blessed me with all this talent and ability, and this is what is meant for me in His plan. Playing golf out here is everything to me. I love the game. I just love playing golf. I'm having fun with it.
To play this game, to be lucky enough to play this game, I think a lot of players need to understand that this game can be taken away from you at any time, by injury, by anything else you can think of. But if you don't play well out here at a high standard, you're going to be on the Nationwide Tour, which is not a bad thing, but you won't be playing for the money and you won't have the same prestige of being on the PGA TOUR.

Q. Are you almost afraid to take a week off right now because you're playing so well?
TOMMY GAINEY: Well, you know, that's a good point. I would have to agree with that. You know, I'm kind of afraid that while I'm on a hot streak, why take a week off? You've got Quail Hollow right here, the Wells Fargo, then you've got THE PLAYERS next week, when I hope I get in, and then after that you've got The Colonial, the Byron Nelson, and then if I'm not mistaken The Memorial. That is five class golf tournaments in a row to play in, and I definitely want to be a part of all five.

Q. I remember talking to you a couple years ago, you were just off the mini-Tour, Big Break, all that stuff. How much different is it for you now when you walk into a golf course like this in terms of feeling, feeling accepted, feeling part of the culture?
TOMMY GAINEY: Well, you know, I try not to worry about being accepted by the other players because I feel like to be accepted you have to win. I just do my thing. I do my thing a little different than all these other players. They go out there, they practice four, five hours a day. I don't do that. What I do is I practice on the things that I'm sure I need to practice on, and everybody I'm sure in here will understand what wins golf tournaments is short game. Short game is what wins. Everybody out here can hit it. I mean, everybody out here is a good ball striker. It comes down to the putter. You make putts, you win. You miss putts, you miss cuts. So I mean, I'm just trying to get better every day.

Q. How much have you developed between Scottsdale this year in terms of feeling the heat and dealing with it versus these last two weeks when you were in that position?
TOMMY GAINEY: Well, you know, I'm trying to get better, but if you look at the last two tournaments, I've gotten off to a bad start on the final round, and that's something that I've got to get better at. And it seems like all four rounds, as a matter of fact, if you look at all four rounds the last couple weeks it looks like I've gotten off to a bad start except for one round, and it was the third round last week at Zurich when I played with Steve Stricker; I birdied the first hole. And I think that was the first time that I birdied the first hole in the last two tournaments. It's all about getting off to a good start, especially when you're in the hunt or you're within two or three shots of the lead. And I just haven't done that.
And I'm trying to get better at it, at that, and it's just hard. You know, it really is. It's hard to -- for me to seem to birdie the first hole to first par. I don't know what it is. I'm trying to get past it, but right now it seems like I get off to a bad start, and it really puts me behind the 8-ball as far as winning a golf tournament. But I'm getting better. You've got to live and learn, and I'm definitely learning from my mistakes, and I'll just try to get better this week.

Q. Brandel Chamblee really likes you but talks about your swing as looking like you're trying to kill a snake with a garden hose. When you hear that stuff, do you take it the same way Jim Furyk took it 20 years ago?
TOMMY GAINEY: You know, people have got their own opinion about how I play golf or how I swing at it, and Jim Furyk, because he's another one, swings at it, but I'll tell you something else: If you look at how I swing at it and how Jim Furyk swings at it, well, let's talk about Bubba Watson; how does he swing at it? Look at him. I mean, look how he swings at it. Nobody talks about him wailing at it. I mean, if you look -- the next time you see Bubba Watson swing at it, pay attention to his feet; they come off the ground and he still hits it 400 yards. Now, you don't see Rory McIlroy do that, do you?
So I mean, I don't worry about what people say about my swing. 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.
MARK STEVENS: Thanks a lot. Good luck this week.

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