With much of the golf worlds eyes on the HSBC Championship in Abu Dhabi, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods’ first event of the season, the Humana Challenge took a back seat for the weekend. While Woods and McIlroy both missed the cut, Woods due to a two stroke penalty for a drop he should not have had and McIlroy for poor play, Jamie Donaldson took down the win in Abu Dhabi after Justin Rose’ birdie putt lipped out on the 72nd hole. A putt that would’ve forced a playoff.
The PGA tour took to three courses - PGA West (Palmer Course), La Quinta and PGA West (Nicklaus Course), for the Humana Challenge in La Quinta, California. Not to be outdone by the European tour event, the PGA Tour guys gave the fans a show on Sunday, worth every penny.
Carrying a five stroke lead into the final round, Scott Stallings seemed like a lock to win the tournament. Stallings carded a final round 70, including two costly bogeys on 16 and 18, the bogey on 18 coming after Stallings tugged a six iron into the water from the middle of the fairway. With Stallings late struggles, three men - Brian Gay, Charles Howell III and David Lingmerth, found themselves with a chance to win.
After Stallings was unable to make his par putt to get into the playoff, Gay, Howell and Lingmerth were paired up for a three way sudden death playoff. With the pressure of possibly winning his first event on tour, Lingmerth pulled his second on the first playoff hole into the water, leaving the door open for Gay and Howell to fight it out between the two of them.
The tournament would not go any further after the second of two playoff holes. Brian Gay needed just a birdie after Howell made a mess of the hole, making a bogey. Gay drove the ball in the middle of the fair and hit his approach to roughly five feet for his birdie. Howell, who drove the ball in the rough ended up in the green side bunker after his second shot sailed just right of the green, all but ending his hopes of winning.
For Gay, the win is his fourth career win on tour and first since his five stroke victory in the St. Jude Classic in 2009. With the win, Gay will get an invite to the tour’s first and most illustrious major, the Masters.
Gay used a final round 63 to come from six strokes down to win. Gay carded nine birdies and no bogeys in the final round. The 63 was his lowest round of the tournament and one stroke off the lowest round for the tournament. Gay had only two bogeys on the week, compared to 29 birdies.
Howell, who was looking for his first win in nearly six years, shot a final round 64 which included ten birdies and two bogeys. The final round 64 was Howell’s lowest round of the tournament, besting his second round 65 by a stroke. Howell is currently not qualified for the Masters, but if he is able to win or is in the top 50 of the world golf rankings by March 31st, he will be able to participate.
The tour’s next stop is the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines golf club in San Diego, California. Tiger Woods will be making his 2013 tour debut at the course he’s seen much success at, winning eight times in his lifetime, including his last Major Championship win the 2008 US Open.1029000