Brian Gay found the extra distance he was looking for without sacrificing control.
That was clear late Sunday afternoon in the Humana Challenge at La Quinta, Calif., when Gay cracked a 300-yard drive down the center of the fairway to set up a birdie on the first playoff hole.
A few minutes later, he split the fairway with a 297-yarder and made another birdie to hold off Charles Howell III for his fourth PGA Tour title.
“I’m still in a little bit of shock,” Gay said. “It kind of happened so fast there at the end the way things went down.”
Gay won on the par-4 10th, putting his 9-iron second shot 5 1/2 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.
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.
“My whole game’s been about accuracy and short game,” Gay said. “I’ve always been a short hitter on the tour and I felt like as I was getting older I’m only going to get shorter and shorter.”
Gay closed with a 9-under 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 with a bogey on the first extra hole – the par-5 18th – after hitting his approach into the left-side water.
Scott Stallings, five strokes ahead entering the round, bogeyed the final hole for a 70 to miss the playoff by a stroke.
John Cook caught David Frost on the final hole of regulation, then beat him with birdie on the second playoff hole to win the Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Kaupulehu-Kona, Hawaii.
Cook closed with a 5-under-67 at Hualalai Golf Club to catch Frost at 17-under 199. Cook drained a 25-foot birdie putt on the 18th green.
Frost shot 69, not able to match Cook’s birdie on the 54th hole of the Champions Tour season-opener.
Frost had held the lead alone since the 12th hole Saturday.
Both birdied the first playoff hole (No. 18) from inside 10 feet and went to the 17th tee. Cook hit his tee shot about 15 feet left of the hole and drained it after Frost had come up short with his birdie try.
European PGA Tour
Jamie Donaldson won the Abu Dhabi Championship by one shot, with Justin Rose narrowly missing a birdie putt on the 18th that would have forced a playoff.
Rose’s 8-foot putt rimmed out of the hole, giving the Welshman his second European Tour victory. He shot a 68 to finish at 14-under 274.