Gay takes advantage of Stallings stutter
Updated: Monday, 21 Jan 2013 10:10
American Brian Gay won a three-man play-off to claim the Humana Challenge title in California after Scott Stallings threw away a five-shot lead on the final day.
One a day which included three 62s, with only three men over par for their round, Stallings was four under through 15 and 26 under overall, which would have been enough to claim the crown in La Quinta.
A bogey at 16 - his second of the day after going blemish-free in his first three rounds - looked to have condemned him to a play-off, but there was worse to come as he dropped another shot at 18, leaving Gay, Charles Howell and Sweden's David Lingmerth to fight it out on 25 under.
Lingmerth, one of the three who was 10 under for his third round, was first to go, bogeying the first play-off hole - the par-five 18th - as he found the water while the other two men birdied.
The remaining two went to the par-four 10th and while Gay birdied, Howell could only manage a bogey after hitting the bunker at the back of the green with his second shot, leaving his compatriot to claim the crown.
Gay could have claimed the fourth PGA title of his career and first since 2009 without the need for a play-off had he not missed an eight-foot birdie putt on the 18th the first time around.
"It was a rollercoaster," Gay said. "When I first finished, there was four guys on the same score. I didn't know who was done, who was still out. And then Scott and Charles are long hitters, I knew they had a mid-iron into 18. I figured at least one, if not both of them, would birdie 18.
"So I was fortunate for that not to happen and have another chance. And boom, there we go. And I just felt like I kind of had a second life, another opportunity."
He added: "It feels amazing right now. I'm still in a little bit of shock. It kind of happened so fast there at the end the way things went down."
Stallings' day started off with him aiming to become the first player since 1974 to play an entire PGA Tour event without carding a bogey, but he dropped a shot at the seventh and it got worse from there.
"It is what it is," he said. "Coming down the stretch on the 72nd hole, you can't make mistakes like that. And it stinks, but it's something that I'll definitely learn from.
"It's disappointing, but the fact is that at the end of the day, I get to play this game for a living."
On a day of low scoring, there were stand-out performances from James Hahn, Kevin Campbell and Richard Lee.
Hahn, joint leader after round one, took a share of fourth alongside Stallings on 24 under with a 10-under 62, which was matched by Campbell, while Lee aced the par-three 15th.
Scotland's Martin Laird was the leading Briton on 16 under for a share of 47th, while Ross Fisher was 15 under and Greg Owen finished last among those who made the cut on eight under after carding a final-round three-over 75.