PGA Tour

Gainey leads South Carolina pack after first round of RBC Heritage

'Two Gloves' just three shots off the lead

ccox@islandpacket.comApril 12, 2012 

Tommy Gainey knows full well about the dubious connection between South Carolinians and the Harbour Town Golf Links.

The Darlington native realizes a golfer from the Palmetto State has never claimed the Heritage's tartan jacket. But after placing third here last year, Gainey feels as though he may be on the cusp of rewriting the record books.

"Hopefully I can be the first South Carolinian to win, that would be awesome in itself," he said. "A win is what I'm looking for. If I could finish third again, that would be fine, too, but I want that jacket."

Gainey shot a 1-under-par 70 in Thursday's opening round of the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing, highlighting his start with birdies on Nos. 1, 6 and 14. The 36-year-old, who sits just outside the top 10 entering today, has finished at par or better in each of his last five rounds at the Heritage.

"I feel like this course sets up for me pretty well," he said. "Plus, it helps to have the support I have out here, all the fans and all the other people I haven't met yet."

Gainey is hoping his strong Heritage performance from 2011 will carry over. This year on the PGA Tour has been a struggle so far for the Columbia resident, as he's made the cut in just three of his previous 10 starts.

"There's no doubt about it, it's with me, I'm still carrying it," he said. "As long as I've got the support from the fans and the family and all the support here from Hilton Head, as well."

Bluffton resident Kyle Stanley was the closest in-state golfer to Gainey, as the Berkeley Hall touring pro shot an even-par 71 -- good for 24th -- in his first round. The former Clemson golfer carded four birdies, including one on each of the first three holes, but added a quartet of bogeys to go along with it.

"I kind of caught fire there on the front side, which was my back nine," said Stanley, who added that he didn't know a Palmetto Stater had never captured the Heritage. "Bogeyed a par 5, that wasn't too good, (and) hit it into the water on 8. Other than that, it was a pretty solid round."

Fellow Tiger Corbin Mills also had a day to remember, as the amateur golfer shot a 1-over 72 in just his third round on the PGA Tour. Mills, who missed the cut at last week's Masters, birdied Nos. 2 and 5 to temporarily jump into the top three on the leaderboard. The 21-year-old battled back from a double bogey on the eighth and another pair of bogeys on 10 and 12 to par each of his last six holes.

"I definitely don't think that I'm out of it," he said. "A good score tomorrow and I'll be right back into it. I'm still not thinking just a cut. I think I can compete with these guys."

Greenville native Lucas Glover finished in a tie at 43rd alongside Mills, while Mark Anderson from Beaufort and Matt Bettencourt of Duncan finished in a tie for 63rd after shooting 2-over 73.

Former Bluffton resident Kris Blanks, D.J. Trahan of Mt. Pleasant, Boiling Springs' William McGirt and Greenville native Bill Haas all finished tied for 80th with a round of 3-over 74. Tommy Biershenk of Boiling Springs rounded out the South Carolina list with a round of 5-over 76.

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