5 Things: Gay's comeback nets fourth PGA Tour title
LA QUINTA, Calif. – Brian Gay was the last man standing at the Humana Challenge on Sunday, shooting a final-round 63 to get into a three-man playoff, then winning with birdie on the second playoff hole.
Here are 5 Things to take away from Sunday's dramatic round during which Scott Stallings lost a five-shot lead:
• • •
1. CALL IT A COMEBACK: Brian Gay is regarded as one of the PGA Tour’s top putters, but he missed a 4-foot birdie putt on the final hole of regulation at the Humana Challenge. He earned a second chance, though, after 54-hole leader Scott Stallings made bogey on the final hole, allowing Gay, rookie David Lingmerth and Charles Howell III to go to a playoff. The trio tied at 25-under 263 after Lingmerth shot 62 Sunday, Howell fired 64 and Gay shot 63.
Gay won on the second playoff hole after hitting 9-iron from 145 yards to 5 feet. Howell made bogey after his approach shot found a greenside bunker. Lingmerth was eliminated on the first extra hole.
“It was a roller coaster,” Gay said. “I was fortunate ... to have another chance.”
This is Gay’s fourth career PGA Tour victory, and first since the 2009 St. Jude Classic.
• • •
2. FRUSTRATING FINISH: This seemed like Scott Stallings’ tournament to win after he started the final round with a five-shot lead. Stallings was bogey-free for the tournament’s first 54 holes. He needed birdie at the short, par-5 18th to win, but his second shot with a 6-iron went into water left of the green. He missed a 10-foot par putt that would’ve earned him a spot in the playoff.
Short misses hurt Stallings on the front nine Sunday. He missed putts from inside 4 feet on Nos. 7 and 8. Wayward tee shots were his undoing on the final nine. He drove into the canal right of the fairway on the par-5 14th, and had to hole a 10-foot putt to save par. Stallings hit 4-iron off the tee at the short par-4 16th because he thought it would leave him short of a fairway bunker. “I flushed it and it went right up under the lip,” he said. Stallings, who was seeking his third PGA Tour victory, had to lay up out of the bunker, then failed to save par.
“I just hit some weird shots at not a good time,” he said.
• • •
3. GEORGIA ON THEIR MINDS: Gay is a former resident of Louisville, Ga., which is located about 45 minutes from Augusta. He earned his first Masters invitation since 2010 after winning the Humana. Augusta’s own Charles Howell III has yet to earn an invitation to the 2013 edition of his hometown major.
Howell missed a 5-foot birdie putt on the final hole of regulation, then made bogey on the second playoff hole. It was the 14th runner-up of his PGA Tour career, compared to two victories. “It’s so darn hard to win out here, and when you do have a chance to do it, it’s painful to let it slip by,” Howell said. He finished third at the previous week’s Sony Open, as well.
Lingmerth, who was playing his second PGA Tour event, was eliminated on the first extra hole, the par-5 18th, after hitting his second shot into the lake, about 15 yards left of land. Lingmerth was the only playoff participant to birdie 18 in regulation Sunday.
• • •
4. CASHING IN: Lingmerth wasn’t the only rookie to shoot 62 Sunday. James Hahn also was 10 under, including an eagle at the final hole. He tied Stallings for fourth, one shot out of the playoff. Hahn, 31, also made eagle at the drivable par-4 eighth hole. He earned $246,400.
Hahn was the 36-hole co-leader. He received attention for his unique background. The former Cal golfer worked at an advertising agency, sold shoes at Nordstrom’s and worked in the pro shop at Richmond (Calif.) Country Club to save money while deciding whether he wanted to pursue a pro career. He recalled sitting in an Edmonton hotel room while playing the Canadian Tour in 2008. He had $288 in his bank account and was looking for jobs on his laptop. He finished eighth, his best finish of the year, to keep his career alive. He earned his first Nationwide Tour card at the 2009 Q-School.
“I don’t take anything for granted,” Hahn said. “I practice and play as if I had $288 left.”
Money won’t be a concern for a while after Sunday’s hefty payday.
• • •
5. SHORT SHOTS: Stewart Cink finished 10th, his first top-10 since May 2011. Cink, who played in the final group, shot 68 in the final round. ... Richard Lee regained his PGA Tour card at Q-School in December at PGA West. He was back at PGA West this week for the Humana Challenge. A hole-in-one on the par-3 15th helped Lee tie for 10th. It was just Lee’s second top-10 in 26 career PGA Tour starts. The other came at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in October. ... California native Kevin Chappell also shot a final-round 62 in spite of a bogey at his final hole, the par-4 ninth. Chappell finished eighth, his first top-10 since last year’s U.S. Open. That was Chappell’s only top-10 last year; he finished 123rd on last year’s money list.