Greenbrier Classic Opening Round: Winter Rules Make for Summer Fun

Robert HartmanCorrespondent IJuly 5, 2013

Two Gloves and some birdies.
Two Gloves and some birdies.Chris Trotman/Getty Images

The opening round of the 2013 Greenbrier Classic turned into a wet playground for many players.

Because of the wet conditions and the all night Wednesday soaker, the tournament officials elected to allow the players to lift, clean and place the golf ball around the Old White TPC layout.  Almost like a wrinkle to a certain Kenny Chesney song: "No mud, no plugged balls, no problem."

Both Tommy Gainey and Johnson Wagner recorded first-round eight-under par 62s to set the watermark on the leaderboard.

The Greenbrier’s own golf professional emeritus, Tom Watson, showed that the leaderboard had room for a guy that knows the course.  His three-under 68 left him four back of Wagner and Gainey, but in the conversation.  When asked about being able to take advantage of the tournament rules for play on Thursday, Watson said, “Jack (Nicklaus) used to call it, 'lift, clean and cheat.'” 

He admitted it to be a scoring advantage.  And on July 4, the “Winter Rules” allowed many players to have red-number fireworks. 

For most of the players, putting their hands on the golf ball is a big advantage to scoring.  For the only player playing in the field with two gloves—the result was an eight-under par 62. Tommy “Two-Gloves” Gainey earned his place on the PGA Tour the hard way. 

As he told the media following his opening round, “I grew up poor and I’m playing on the PGA Tour.  I'm a PGA Tour winner.  It doesn't get any better than that.”  Before he made it to the tour, he worked in the factory of a water heater company called AO Smith, which is now one of his sponsors. Gainey said, “I put a new Callaway driver in the bag this week.  I missed one fairway today.  If I can hit fairways, I can score.”  

Gainey birdied his first hole of the day and added birdies on two, eight and nine.  He birdied the short par-four 10th and added birdies on 11, 16 and 17.  Four birdies on each side, one glove on each hand, and the South Carolina native earned himself an afternoon nap.  “I’ve been up since 5:30 a.m., I am probably going to take a nap,”  he said.

Joining Gainey atop the leaderboard was Wagner.  A two-time winner on the PGA Tour, Wagner has earned a reputation for two things; being a streaky player and a moustache.  

On Monday, Wagner celebrated his seventh wedding anniversary with what he calls a “clean lip.”  Whether the lack of facial hair propelled his pace setting round is up for debate.  “I mean it (moustache) will definitely come back at some point.  I love irritating my wife too much to let it go for too long.”

A former Virginia Tech standout, Wagner’s round was highlighted by a chip-in for eagle at the 12th.  He also pointed out that he likes the Seth Raynor and C.B. MacDonald-designed golf course.  “Where I won in Hawaii, it was also a Seth Raynor golf course.”  Wagner’s lone win in 2012 was the Sony Open.

Kenny Chesney performed at the West Virginia State Fairgrounds on Thursday night.  Phil Mickelson could not be seen in attendance. 

His opening round was a different wrinkle on the Chesney song: "No Shoes, No shirt, No Problem."  The left-hander's opening-round 74 was uncharacteristic of his success in 2013.  It was more like few birdies, bad finish, big problem.

The Greenbrier Classic’s marquee name finished triple-bogey (17), bogey (18) to shoot a four-over 74.

All quotes for this article were obtained firsthand.