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 made par on the next nine holes before a bogey save at the par-3 11th, where he hit his ball into the hazard right of the green, chipped across the green and got up-and-down for 4.
“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 making birdie on 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 making par on the final 11 holes.