Brian Gay wins Humana Challenge playoff

Scott Stallings' chip on the par-5 sixth skidded and released instead of checking up, leading to a lost-shot par.

He missed a 2-footer on the next hole for his first bogey in four days in the Humana Challenge, then watched a short birdie try catch the edge and stay out on the eighth.

A few holes later, the five-stroke lead he took into the final round was long gone. And a few hours later, Brian Gay was holding the big trophy after an unexpected playoff.

The two-time PGA Tour winner saved par on the par-5 14th after driving into the All-American Canal on the right side, but dropped a stroke on the par-4 16th when his 4-iron tee shot went farther than he expected and ended up in the lip of a left fairway bunker.

On the par-5 18th, needing birdie to win and par to get into a playoff, Stallings hit a perfect 315-yard drive to set up a 6-iron approach from 220 yards.

He took a big divot and watched helplessly as the ball landed in the left rough, rattled around the rocks and tumbled into the water. He still had a chance to get in the playoff after a penalty drop, but left himself 10 feet after a chip and missed the par putt.

He finished with a 2-under 70 to miss the playoff by a stroke.

Gay took advantage of a chance he didn't expect to win his fourth PGA Tour title, finding the extra distance off the tee he has longed for without sacrificing control.

Gay cracked a 300-yard drive down the middle to set up a birdie on the first playoff hole, then split the fairway with a 297-yarder and made another birdie to hold off Charles Howell III with the sun setting behind the Santa Rosa Mountains.

Gay won on the par-4 10th, putting his 9-iron second shot 5½ feet below the hole. Howell drove into the right rough, hit into the back bunker, blasted out to 15 feet and two-putted for bogey and his 14th runner-up finish.

The 41-year-old Gay, hardly an imposing figure at 5-foot-10 and 165 pounds, worked hard last year with Grant Waite and Joe Mayo to increase his driving distance.

Gay closed with a 63 on PGA West's Arnold Palmer Private Course to match Howell and Swedish rookie David Lingmerth at 25-under 263. Howell shot a 64, and Lingmerth had a 62.

Lingmerth dropped out on the first extra hole -- the 18th -- after hitting his approach into the left-side water and making a bogey.

Howell tied for second a week after opening the season with a third-place tie in Hawaii at the Sony Open. He won the last of his two tour titles in 2007.

Gay began the round six strokes behind Stallings.

After birdieing nine of the first 13 holes, Gay closed with five straight pars. On 18, he hit into the right greenside rough, chipped past the hole and missed an 8-foot birdie try.

Given a second chance, he outlasted Howell for his first victory since the 2009 St. Jude Classic. Gay also won the 2008 Mayakoba Golf Classic and 2009 Verizon Heritage.

Playing in the second-to-last group, Howell had a chance to pull ahead on the final hole of regulation, but left his approach about 85 feet short and three-putted for par. His 5-foot birdie attempt veered left inches from the hole.

Making his second career PGA Tour start, Lingmerth hit his 4-iron approach left into the water in the playoff. He had an awkward stance with the ball above his feet.

Phil Mickelson had a 66 to tie for 37th at 17 under in his season debut.


 

Please Share