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MMSC: Tommy Gainey's first win, a putt for 59 and Rory McIlroy's reported deal with Nike

By Shane Bacon | Blogger

There are few things cooler as a golf fan than watching a guy get his first PGA Tour victory, but to do it like Tommy Gainey did on Sunday at the McGladrey Classic? That was incredible.

Teeing off hours before the leaders, Gainey made three birdies over his first five holes, added another on the par-4 ninth and then went nuclear on the back. From holes 11-17 Gainey made nothing but threes, and had a putt on the final hole for 59. He couldn't convert it, but his par on the last gave him a round of 10-under 60 and a chance for his first PGA Tour title.

The crazy part was how long Gainey had to wait before finding out he had finally leaped that PGA Tour winning hurdle. Gainey sat for two hours before the leaders got to the final hole, and with Jim Furyk making bogey on the 18th when he needed a birdie, it was all wrapped up for Gainey.

The crazy thing about this victory is what it proves about golf, on all levels. You don't need an Adam Scott-style swing to compete, and win, at the highest level, just something that repeats itself over and over again. Gainey's golf swing gets locked in and he can go crazy low, like he did on Sunday, no matter how ugly it is (think about it -- Gainey and Furyk were in the top three and both look like they're actually mad at the golf ball when going after it).

The victory was an impressive one for Gainey, and was exactly why the Fall Series is so good. Maybe it lacks the star power of a Tiger Woods, but it gives us cool stories like this one with Gainey. A guy that is better known for his glove number than his golf game is finally a PGA Tour winner, and will always have this memory the next time he's closing down the stretch with a chance at a victory.

You can't help but enjoy watching things like this if you enjoy the game.

59 Watch? Not for Gainey

The one thing that was crazy about Sunday's finish was how it seemed like Gainey was destined to fire that sub-60 round. When he made eagle on the par-5 15th, it seemed like he was going to roll into a 59 which would be one of the best final rounds in the history of the game.

After Gainey's approach shot on the 18th stopped 20 feet from the hole, it looked like the guy with the red-hot putter would be not only getting an improbable victory, but doing it in the most unlikely fashion imaginable.

But Gainey admitted after his round that he was never thinking about 59. He said after his round, "I'm real happy with that (par on 18) ... I wasn't thinking about 59."

Now, we will never know if that's really the case, but it's interesting to hear a professional say that he didn't even have such a number in his mind. We've seen guys choke away a chance at 59 plenty of times, but Gainey did everything but hit that final putt hard enough to post a sub-60 round.

Maybe he wasn't thinking about it, but as an amateur golfer, it's hard to think that these guys don't know where they're at on the golf course. Maybe Gainey was just in a zone that allowed him to see the ball and hit it, but somewhere I bet joining the elite 59 club was bouncing around as he walked up to that 18th green. It sure would be for me.

Rory's new Nike deal?

Are we going to see the Boy Wonder in Swooshes next season? That seems to be the word on the street with Rory McIlroy, who the Irish Times is saying could sign a deal with Nike at the end of the year worth up to $250 million.

Seriously.

Rory's deal with Titleist/FootJoy is done at the end of this year, and there are reports that McIlroy could join buddy Tiger Woods under the Swoosh, giving Nike the two biggest golf stars in the world by a mile.

McIlroy's deal is said to be 10 years, $250 million, and would mean Rory could wear the Nike golf clothes and play all Nike equipment just like Woods.

No idea if this actually happens, but that is an incredible figure for a kid that is said to be the second most marketable athlete in the world right now.

 
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