Photo Description from left- Emmett Saunders ,MOTA, Manager Exuma Office, Tommy Gainey and Eldece Clarke, MOTA, Sports Manager. (Photo Credit: MOTA/Kemuel Stubbs)
Great Exuma, The Bahamas — Holding a slim lead for most of the day, Tommy Gainey birdied his last three holes en route to his third career Korn Ferry Tour victory at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay. At 11-under, Gainey topped John Oda and Dylan Wu by four shots.
“I definitely didn’t expect it this week,” said Gainey, a former PGA TOUR champion at the 2012 RSM Classic. “As you know, the last time I played here (in 2017) I shot 87-84. But it’s a new year, new tournament. I just had to be patient.”
With a birdie at the par-5 first, Gainey looked prepared to distance himself from the field. Instead he parred the next nine holes before a bogey save at the 11th.
“Salvaging bogey on No. 11 was key,” said Gainey. “It could have gone all of the way in the right hazard, but it sat up on the plants and I was able to get a club on it.”
Gainey added four more pars on Nos. 12-15 before birdieing his final three holes to slam the door shut on his competitors. The win was his first on the Korn Ferry Tour since the 2010 season when he won twice and finished fourth on the money list.
The wind affected players all week with scoring averages hovering around 75 over the first two rounds. The final cumulative scoring average was 74.032, the highest relative to par since the 2018 United Leasing & Finance Championship.
“This is just a really tough golf course,” said Gainey. “When the wind blows 20 or 25 miles per hour, there’s not much room out there for you to miss. You have to aim over the ocean to bring it back into the fairway. I just had a great effort this week, was very patient this week and had a great caddie (Scott) on the bag.”
Entering his sophomore campaign on the Korn Ferry Tour, John Oda made a late charge with birdies at 15, 16 and 17 to briefly hold a share of the lead. A wayward tee shot at the par-5 18th ended any hopes of a comeback. Still, a bogey save at the last was enough for a T2 finish.
“My drive on 18 was left and I looked to be headed for a big number,” said Oda. “But my caddie found the ball and I was able to take an unplayable and grind out a bogey. I don’t think people realize how big that bogey was for me. That was huge.”
Oda has now finished T4, T4 and T2 in three starts on islands on the Korn Ferry Tour (two in Great Exuma, one in Great Abaco). The 23-year-old grew up in Hawaii where he was the state amateur champion in 2012 and 2013.
Dylan Wu posted birdies at the first and fourth, countered by bogeys at the second and seventh, before parring the final 11 holes.
“While we extend a major congratulations to the winner, Mr. Gainy, we are also celebrating what an event of this caliber does for the island of Exuma”, remarked Emmet Saunders, Senior Manager of the Ministry of Tourism office in Exuma. “The Exuma postcard has been broadcasted in over 80 countries around the world, and the sense of community that the entire island feels, I couldn’t have been more pleased with the success of this event.”
* Wednesday’s weather: Breezy and partly cloudy, high of 80, winds E 12-18 mph with gusts up to 25 mph.
* In Tommy Gainey’s only previous 54-hole lead on the Korn Ferry Tour, he converted it into a victory at the 2010 Chiquita Classic. He is now two for two on the Korn Ferry Tour. He failed to convert his lone 54-hole lead on the PGA TOUR at the 2011 Waste Management Phoenix Open.
* John Oda (T2) and George Cunningham (T4) each notched their highest career finish on the Korn Ferry Tour.
* Jose de Jesus Rodriguez (-6, T4) has now finished T3 and T4 in two starts at at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay (the other coming in 2018).
* John Oda (-7, T2) and Sean O’Hair (-6, T4) tied for the least bogeys or worse through the tournament. Each player had four bogeys and one double bogey.
* Brent Grant (E, T19) led the field with 22 birdies (plus an eagle). The 23-year-old was making his Korn Ferry Tour debut. Ryan Ruffels (-2, T11) claimed the highest finish by any player making their debut.
* Last season, Sandals Emerald Bay Golf Course ranked as the 12th hardest course on the Korn Ferry Tour. This week’s scoring average was higher than any on Tour in 2019.
* Augusto Nunez (-1, T16) extended one of the more impressive streaks in golf. He has finished in the top-20 in his past 16 stroke-play events, the first 15 on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica before this week’s effort on the Korn Ferry Tour.
* The par-4 12th played as the most difficult hole on Wednesday with a scoring average of 4.504. In 2017, the 12th ranked as the most difficult hole in the Korn Ferry Tour’s history and played to a scoring average of 5.008.
* The par-5 first hole played as the easiest through the week with a scoring average of 4.698.
* This week’s purse was $600,000 with $108,000 going to Tommy Gainey. Gainey also receives 500 Korn Ferry Tour points.