Capitals

Gainey gets his 1st PGA Tour win at Sea island

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Gainey gets his 1st PGA Tour win at Sea island

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. (AP) Moments after Tommy Gainey narrowly missed his putt for a 59, he walked off the 18th green at Sea Island with a two-shot lead over Jim Furyk and Davis Love III, who still had 10 holes to play in the McGladrey Classic.

``Got a long way to go,'' Gainey said.

More than two hours later, after Furyk needed a birdie to force a playoff and instead made bogey, he walked over to Gainey in the scoring area and gave him a hug. It was a reminder to the 37-year-old Gainey just how far he had come.

Gainey twice worked on the assembly line for A.O. Smith, wrapping insulation around hot water tanks until a downturn in the economy cost him his job. He played mini-tours that no longer exist, and made a name for himself on a Golf Channel reality series for wearing two gloves. He fashioned his own swing from his days playing baseball.

It was Furyk, of all people, who pulled Gainey aside last year and told him he was good enough to win.

``I played nine holes with him and he just told me, `Tommy, when you were on the mini-tours, you were kicking their tail, and now you get out here and you struggle a little bit.' He said, `Man, don't change your game. Just keep going at it. You got the game to be out here and to win. Just keep your head up and just keep trying, and sooner or later it's going to happen.'

``Who knows what would have happened if we didn't play nine holes together, or even had a talk?''

Tommy ``Two Gloves'' Gainey couldn't have imagined winning like this.

Seven shots behind going into the final round, Gainey came within one putt of a 59, and then had to wait more than two hours as David Toms, Furyk and Love - who have combined for 49 wins, three majors and 17 Ryder Cup teams - tried to catch him.

None of them could.

Gainey broke the course record at Sea Island with a 10-under 60, which carried him to a one-shot win over Toms. He became the fourth player this year to rally from at least seven shots in the final round to win, helped by seven straight 3s on his card on the back nine.

``Oh, man,'' Gainey said. ``I tell you, you're out here on the PGA Tour. You're playing with the best players in the world. Ninety-nine percent of these guys have already won, and won majors, big tournaments. The only show I can say I've won is the `Big Break.' Now I can sit here and say I've won the McGladrey Classic here at Sea Island, and I'm very proud to be in this tournament and very proud to win. And wow, it's been a whirlwind day.

``I didn't know having 24 putts and shooting 60 would be like this,'' he said. ``So I'm pretty stoked about it.''

Furyk was pretty bummed.

He went 55 holes without a bogey, a streak that ended on the 18th hole when he needed a birdie to force a playoff. From the fairway, Furyk pushed an 8-iron right of the green and had to settle for a 69, a sour end to a season filled with bitter moments.

It was his fourth time with at least a share of the 54-hole lead. He lost in a playoff, made bogey on the 16th hole at Olympic Club that cost him a shot at the U.S. Open, and made double bogey on the 18th hole at Firestone to lose the Bridgestone Invitational. Furyk had said going into the week that even a win wouldn't erase memories of those losses, along with losing a 1-up lead to Sergio Garcia in the Ryder Cup.

This time, someone went out and beat him with a record score, and Furyk couldn't catch him.

``I think what I'm most disappointed about is when it came down the stretch, hitting the ball pretty much as good as I can, I made really, really poor swings at 17 and 18 with a 7-iron and 8-iron,'' Furyk said. ``So to play those two holes and not get one good look at it for birdie was disappointing.''

Love's hopes of winning before the home crowd - he has lived at Sea Island since he was 14 - ended with a tee shot into the water for double bogey on the 16th. He was trying to become the first Ryder Cup captain since Tom Watson in 1996 to win on the PGA Tour.

A gracious host even in defeat, Love recalled his last win at Disney in 2008, when he didn't look at a leaderboard until the 18th hole and saw Gainey making a run. Love held on with pars. This time, he saw Gainey's name appear out of nowhere again, and couldn't do anything about it. He closed with a 71 and tied for fourth.

Toms, who closed with a 63, also needed a birdie on the 18th hole, but he pushed his drive well right into the bunker and had little chance of reaching the green.

``I was thinking about what kind of putt I was going to have before I ever hit the fairway,'' Toms said. ``You get ahead of yourself and that's what happens.''

Gainey's round was about 9.4 shots better than the average score in the final round. He had a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th to become the sixth player in PGA Tour history with a 59 and narrowly missed it.

He started his round with a 31 on the front nine, despite missing a 6-foot birdie putt on the second hole and failing to make birdie on the reachable par-5 seventh. Starting with his 10-foot birdie putt on the 11th hole, he put together seven straight 3s on his scorecard. His 20-foot birdie putt on the 14th tied him for the lead. He holed out a bunker shot from about 40 feet on the par-5 15th to take a two-shot lead, and then holed a 20-footer on the 16th to bring golf's magic number into view.

Gainey hit wedge into about 20 feet on the 18th hole, leaving him a birdie putt for a shot at a 59. He ran off to a portable bathroom before the big putt and gave it a nice roll. The pace was just a bit off and it turned weakly away to the right.

``I wasn't thinking about 59,'' Gainey said. ``See, all I did all day was just try to make birdies - and a lot of birdies - because when you're seven shots back, your chances of winning a PGA tournament with the leaders, Davis Love III and Jim Furyk ... it don't bide in your favor, man. I'm in this position, and man, it feels like I'm in a dream. I'm just waiting for somebody to slap me upside the head or pinch me or something to wake me up.''

Instead, he went over to the volunteer tent for a champagne toast. Gainey raised a bottle of beer.

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Stanley Cup Final 2018: Players to watch

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Players to watch

It doesn't take an expert to tell you players like Alex Ovechkin or Marc-Andre Fleury will play a big role in the Stanley Cup Final.

Both the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights will need their best players to be at their best to take home the Cup. But who will be the unexpected heroes? Who are the players no one is talking about who will have a big hand in their team's success or defeat in this series?

Here are five players you should be watching in the Stanley Cup:

1. Devante Smith-Pelly: Smith-Pelly had seven goals in 79 games in the regular season. Now he has four goals in just 19 playoff games.

Smith-Pelly has been one of those unlikely playoff heroes for the Caps this postseason with very timely performances such as scoring the series-clinching goal in Game 6 against the Columbus Blue and scoring the goal that put the game away in Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The physical play has really stood out as well for him, which fits well on the fourth line role he has settled back into now that the team is healthy again. Barry Trotz tried moving him to the top line in the absence of Tom Wilson and the results weren't great. He is best suited for the role he currently has and that will allow him to thrive.

2. James Neal: Neal came up just short of the Stanley Cup last season as a member of the Nashville Predators. He totaled nine points in 22 games during that run, a number he has already matched in just 15 games this postseason.

There are very few players on either team that boast the kind of postseason experience Neal has. He will be leaned upon this series for his leadership.

Vegas is a young team and their unprecedented success in the playoffs may make this feel like the first run of many for the Golden Knights, but not for Neal who is on the last year of his contract and came tantalizingly close to the Cup last season. He will play like there is no tomorrow because, for him, there may not be in Vegas.

3. Andre Burakovsky: Burakovsky was one of the heroes of Game 7 with two goals to put away the Tampa Bay Lightning. That marked just the latest peak in a career full of peaks and valleys for the young winger. Just two games before, Burakovsky was a healthy scratch and spoke to the media about his plans to speak with a sports psychologist in the offseason.

The talent is there and it certainly appears that the injury that kept him out earlier in the playoffs is largely behind him. Burakovsky’s issues have always been mainly between the ears. In a series against a fast team with strong depth, he can be an absolutely critical piece for the Caps. Hopefully, his Game 7 performance gave him the confidence he needs to continue to be effective.

4. Ryan Reaves: Vegas acquired both Reaves and Tomas Tatar around the trade deadline. If I were to tell you that through three rounds of the playoffs, both players were healthy, had played the same number of games (6) and had the same number of points (1), you’d think I was crazy. Yet, here we are.

Reaves was largely an afterthought in a complicated trade between Vegas, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Ottawa Senators, but he has carved a nice role for himself on the Golden Knights’ fourth line and even scored the goal that sent Vegas to the Stanley Cup Final against the Winnipeg Jets.

Reaves is also an agitator on the ice, but what do the Caps do against a player like that when their normal fighter plays on the top line? We may see Reaves and Wilson come to blows this series, but it won't be very often because that is a bad tradeoff for the Caps.

5. Brooks Orpik: The elder statesman of the blue line, Orpik is the only player on the Caps with a Stanley Cup to his name and is the only one who has any idea what this experience is going to be like for the team.

Orpik is very diligent about keeping in shape which has allowed him to play in 81 games this season and all 19 playoff games despite being 37 years old, but you do have to wonder how much is left in the tank. Despite being the favorite whipping boy for the proponents of analytics, his physical play has been effective this postseason. The focus he placed on the skating in the offseason has paid dividends so far in matchups against the speedy Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning, but the Golden Knights will be the fastest team they have played yet. There is no denying Orpik is much more suited towards a physical style of game. Wil he continue to be effective or will Vegas exploit the Caps' third defensive pairing?

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Capitals vs. Golden Knights Game 1 Stanley Cup Final: Date, Time, TV Channel, Livestrem

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Capitals vs. Golden Knights Game 1 Stanley Cup Final: Date, Time, TV Channel, Livestrem

The wait is finally over. 

After two decades, the Capitals are back in the Stanley Cup Final. 

After a convincing 4-0 win in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Capitals are in Vegas to take on the Golden Knights. They'll be facing off against a handful of familiar names, with former Caps GM George McPhee, fan favorite Nate Schmidt, and ex-Penguins goalie Marc Andre-Fluery are just a few of the names that'll be suiting up for Vegas. 

What will the X-factors in the series be? Who will be the unexpected heroes of Game 1? The action is almost underway, and here are all the details you need to know.

Game 1 Capitals at Golden Knights
Date: Monday, May 28
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Location: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, NV.
TV Channel: NBCSN 
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 FM)

WHEN IS GAME 1 OF THE CAPITALS-GOLDEN KNIGHTS SERIES?

Game 1 of the Capitals-Golden Knights 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final takes place on Monday, May 28 at 8:00 p.m. at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV.

WHAT TV CHANNEL IS GAME 1 OF THE CAPITALS-GOLDEN KNIGHTS SERIES ON?

The TV broadcast of Game 1 between the Capitals and Golden Knights is on NBC. Capitals pre- and postgame coverage takes place on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

5:00 p.m. — Caps Cup Preview
6:00 p.m. — Caps GameDay Live
6:30 p.m. — Caps Face Off
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
8:00 p.m. — Game 1 Capitals vs. Golden Knights
10:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
11:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime

WHERE CAN I STREAM CAPITALS vs. GOLDEN KNIGHTS GAME 1?

Game 1 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final between the Capitals and Golden Knights is available for online stream on the NBC Sports App. Click here for the NBC Sports live stream page.

CAPITALS vs. GOLDEN KNIGHTS GAME 1 OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals digital producer JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.