Gay defeats Howell and Lingmerth in Humana playoff
Brian Gay has defeated Charles Howell III and David Lingmerth to claim the 2013 Humana Challenge. When I wrote my preview for the Humana earlier this week, I noted that the scores were likely to be exceedingly low, and this week was no exception. Of course, Gay only became the story due to a massive collapse by third round leader Scott Stallings.
Stallings carried a five-shot lead heading into Sunday’s final round, but with how low the players were going this week, making up five shots wasn’t that big of a deal. Both Howell and Gay made par on the closing hole after Lingmerth ended with a birdie. All three men were in the clubhouse at 25-under par, waiting for the penultimate group of Stallings, Stewart Cink and Roberto Castro to finish up. Stallings, who bogeyed the 16th after a terrible tee shot into a fairway bunker, needed a birdie on the finale to win, and a par to join the trio in a playoff.
After a perfect drive down the middle of the fairway, Stallings pulled a 6-iron, knocking it into the water beside the green. After his drop, Stallings hit a poor chip and couldn’t sink the ten footer for par, missing out on the playoff. Gay and Howell both made birdie on the opening playoff hole, while Lingmerth could only manage par, and he was eliminated as Gay and Howell went back to the 10th tee. After Howell’s approach went into the greenside bunker, Gay stepped up and hit a beautiful shot, landing five feet in front of the pin. Gay dropped the birdie to win the Humana, capping off a brilliant day of golf for the 41-year old native of Fort Worth, Texas.
Notes about Gay’s win
- It’s his fourth win on the PGA Tour, and his first since winning the 2009 St. Jude Classic.
- Gay opened the day six shots behind Stallings, but fired a 63 to get into the playoff.
- The 63 shot by Gay doesn’t come without precedence. In 2011, Gay shot a 62 in the final round on the Palmer Course to finish solo fifth.
- The win also gets Gay into the Masters, which he has only played once in his career, getting cut in 2010.
Mike Weir’s cut streak continues
I tweeted on Thursday about the good run that 2003 Masters champ Mike Weir was on in the opening round. That 67 he fired was his best round since the Wyndham in August of 2010, and while he did make a pair of weekends last year on the European Tour, he had been cut in 17 straight PGA Tour events coming into this week. The excitement surrounding his opening round 67 was quickly muted when he followed it up with a second-round 75. It looked like he would easily miss his 18th consecutive cut, but he was on fire in the third round, reeling off ten birdies in his first thirteen holes. Even after a bogey on his fourteenth hole of the day, Weir was inside the cut line heading to his final hole of the day.
Weir approached the par-4 9th on the Palmer Course and proceeded to dunk his ball in the water off the tee. After taking a drop, he hit his third into the water as well, and by the time it was all over, Weir had made a triple-bogey 7, knocking him three back of the cut line. Weir has had a myriad of injuries as I’ve chronicled in the past, and he’s undoubtedly frustrated with the way this week unfolded, but he should be happy with the way he played, aside from the awful 75 he fired on Friday, which contributed far more to his missing the cut than his final hole on Saturday did. He used his top-25 career earnings exemption this season, so he does have a full card for 2013. If he’s really as healthy as he says he is, he’ll have no problem breaking that cut streak soon. Winning again, something he hasn’t done since 2007, will be a much more difficult proposition.
Final notes about the event:
- It’s a tough pill to swallow for Howell, but he’s on absolute fire to start the season. He’s finished with a T2 and a T3 this season, and has yet to shoot a round higher than 67 in eight tries. It’s also his fourteenth runner-up finish on the PGA Tour.
- The last four winners of the event all missed the cut. (Mark Wilson, Jhonattan Vegas, Bill Haas and Pat Perez)
- Camilo Villegas did make the cut this week, which is a welcome sight for both him and the PGA Tour. Villegas was looked at as one of the next big, young players to watch until he had a dreadful 2012 where he didn’t have a single top-10.
- It wasn’t the end result he wanted, but it wasn’t a bad week for Phil Mickelson at the Humana. After opening with a 72, Mickelson was well under par over the final three rounds, ending at 17-under par. Mickelson will be in the field next week at Torrey Pines for the Farmers Insurance Open.
- Much like Villegas, Stewart Cink had a much needed good week. Since winning the 2009 Open Championship at Turnberry, Cink has recorded only five top-10’s, with the last one coming at the 2011 Wells Fargo. Prior to this season, he switched from Nike to TaylorMade, and as most golfers do, Cink has tinkered with his swing a lot in recent years. After a missed cut last week, you can’t say that he’s gotten it back, but it’s obviously a good sign.
- There were 22 players that got to at least 20-under par. The three round cut skews the stat a little bit, but there were only eight players who were over par all week, leaving the cut at 10-under par.