Brian Gay sank a five-foot putt for a birdie on the second hole of a sudden death playoff he didn't expect to be in Sunday to win the $5.6 million Humana Challenge at the Arnold Palmer Private Course at PGA West.
Gay began the round among eight golfers tied for seventh, six shots behind leader Scott Stallings. He earned a spot in the playoff by shooting a bogey-free nine-under-par 63, with nine birdies. He parred each of the final five holes to finish regulation play at 25-under-263.
However, Gay said missing a 10-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole made him think he would not be in a playoff.
"I felt like I gave one back with a par on 18," said Gay, who received $1.008 million for the victory, his fourth on the PGA Tour and first since the 2009 St. Jude Classic.
"(I) was fortunate enough to feel like I had a second chance with two guys left that didn't birdie the hole."
Gay played in the third to last group and said "it was a roller coaster" as he waited to learn if he would be in a playoff.
"When I first finished, there were four games on the same score," Gay said. "I didn't know who was done, who was still out. Scott and Charles (Howell III) are long hitters. I knew they had a mid iron into 18. I figure at least one, if not both of them would birdie 18.
"I was fortunate for that not to happen and have another chance."
Howell, playing in the next-to-last group, was unable to capitalize on the opportunity to win the tournament outright when he missed a five foot, seven inch putt for a birdie on the 18th hole.
David Lingmerth, a 25-year-old from Sweden who played college golf at Arkansas, got the other spot in the playoff by shooting a 10-under-par 62, matching Kevin Chappell and James Hahn for the low round of the day,
Gay began the playoff on the par-five 18th hole by making a four-foot putt for a birdie. Howell's approximately 20-foot putt for an eagle stopped two feet short of the hole. He tapped in for a birdie to continue the playoff.
Lingmerth, who was playing in his second PGA Tour event, was eliminated when he was unable to put his fifth shot into the hole. He had put his second shot into the water.
Howell hit his tee shot on the second playoff hole, the par-four 10th, into the rough. His second shot hit the green, but went into the back bunker and third went about 12 feet past the hole.
Gay's drive was in the fairway and his approach shot left him five feet from the hole.
The final round began with Stallings holding a five-shot lead over five golfers.
"Going into the day, I didn't really think that anybody had a chance apart from Scott," Howell said. "He's won before, he hits it long enough to take advantage of the par-5s. At 22-under, I figured it he shoots six, seven under, he's really not catchable."
Instead, Stallings shot a two-under-par 70 with five birdies, including three on the first four holes, and bogeys on the seventh, 16th and 18th holes.
Stallings failed to qualify for the playoff when his nine-foot, 10-inch par putt on the 18th hole rolled wide of the hole after his second shot bounced off the rocks and went into the water.
Stallings said he "felt like I made a good swing" on his second shot on the 18th hole, but the "ball came off a little right and got a bad kick and went into the water.
"Coming down the stretch on the 72nd hole, you can't make mistakes like that," said Stallings, who tied Hahn for fourth at 24-under 264. "It stinks, but it's something that I'll definitely learn from."
--City News Service