Brian Gay wins Verizon Heritage in a romp

By Associated PressApril 19, 2009, 4:00 pm
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2007 Verizon HeritageHILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. ' Brian Gay put on a record-setting show at the Verizon Heritage. And this time, he didnt have to share the spotlight with anyone.
 
Gay shot a 7-under 64 Sunday to win at Harbour Town Golf Links by an astounding 10 shots. He broke the 13-year-old scoring record, finishing at 20-under 264 on the way to his second PGA Tour victory.
 
Just another unbelievable day, Gay said.
 
There have been many more of them the last two years for the former Florida Gator, who remains the only player to win two Southeastern Conference championships.
 
But finding golf success has been a struggle for the 37-year-old, who did not break through for his first win until his 293rd start in February 2008 at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico.
 
Bad luck for Gay, that triumph came the same weekend Tiger Woods finished off the field at the World Golf Championships Match Play event.
 
Yeah, its a bit of validation, Gay said.
 
And perhaps one of the PGA Tours more dominating performances.
 
He had the tours largest margin of victory since Phil Mickelson won the 2006 BellSouth Classic by 13 strokes.
 
Gay bested Loren Roberts mark of 19 under in winning the 1996 Verizon Heritage. Gays 10-shot edge over Luke Donald (66) and Briny Baird (68) shattered the seven strokes five-time champ Davis Love won by in 1998.
 
Besides a $1.026 million first prize, Gay earned a spot in next years Masters, something he also didnt get with the Mayakoba victory. It will be his first time at Augusta National.
 
Ive had a lot of heartache not getting in that tournament, winning (and) not getting in, and missing by one spot on the money list two times, he said. I just figured, who cares? Whats going to happen is going to happen, just go play golf.
 
Gay moved into the lead Friday and carried a three-stroke margin over Tim Wilkinson into the final round. Gays game plan? Dont do what he did at Mayakoba, holding on despite some passive, wait-for-pars play.
 
I told myself to keep my head down and keep plugging along, Gay said. I didnt watch any (leader) boards. I didnt watch anything.
 
Soon enough, Gay was out of sight of the field.
 
He essentially wrapped things up two holes into the round ' and never gave the chasers a chance to climb back in.
 
Gay struck his approach to 10 feet on No. 1 for a birdie to increase the lead to four. A hole later, he rolled in a curling, uphill 57-footer for an eagle-3, raising his putter as the ball disappeared into the cup.
 
Playing partner Wilkinson, facing a 10-footer for birdie, never had a chance with the cheers for Gay still in his ears and the margin increased to six shots.
 
A birdie on the par-5 fifth gave Gay a seven-shot edge that no one could dent.
 
Gay moved into the lead Friday with a run of five straight birdies and continued his precise, accurate play throughout. He made only two bogeys ' one Friday and one Sunday ' and bettered Roberts low of three bogeys for the 1996 tournament.
 
The tour began keeping hole-by-hole scoring records in 1983.
 
Im happy for the guy. Hes playing phenomenal, Baird said.
 
The only back-nine drama was if Gay could break Roberts scoring mark. It looked dicey when Gay posted a bogey on the 12th hole to fall back to 17-under.
 
Surely, with a large lead and victory all but wrapped up, Gay would pull back a bit the rest of the way.
 
Not this time.
 
Gay regained the lost stroke with a birdie on the next hole, then matched Roberts with a birdie on the par-5 15th.
 
A hole later on No. 16, Gay rolled in a 15-footer to reach 20 under.
 
On the final hole, Gay finally asked caddie Kip Henley who was in second and how far ahead were they. He told me he didnt know, Gay smiled.
 
Therell be no hiding Gays victory this time.
 

DIVOTS
Two-time defending champion Boo Weekley ended at 5-under after a closing 68. Spencer Levin made the most of his chance at the Verizon Heritage. Levin was the second alternate and got in only after Bart Bryant withdrew. Levin made the cut, then had his best weekend of the year going 66-69 to finish tied for 13th at 5-under. Rory McIlroy, the 19-year-old star from Northern Ireland trying to become the youngest winner in PGA Tour history, will put that quest on hold for a couple of weeks. McIlroy is returning home until The Players Championship in three weeks. He finished 2 over in his first visit to Harbour Town.
 

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    USGA, R&A detail World Handicap System

    By Randall MellFebruary 20, 2018, 2:00 pm

    The USGA and the R&A released details Tuesday of a proposed new World Handicap System.

    The WHS takes the six handicapping systems that exist worldwide and aligns them under a new single system.

    The USGA and the R&A will govern the WHS with the six existing handicap authorities administering them locally. A two-year transition will begin to fully implement the new system in 2020.

    The unified alignment is designed to make it easier to obtain and maintain a handicap and to make the handicap more equitable among golfers of differing abilities and genders around the world.

    “For some time, we’ve heard golfers say, ‘I’m not good enough to have a handicap,’ or ‘I don’t play enough to have a handicap,’” USGA executive director Mike Davis said. “We want to make the right decisions now to encourage a more welcoming and social game.”

    Davis said the effort is designed to both simplify and unify the handicap system.

    “We’re excited to be taking another important step – along with modernizing golf’s rules – to provide a pathway into the sport, making golf easier to understand and more approachable and enjoyable for everyone to play,” he said.

    R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said the new handicap system should make the game more inviting.

    “We want to make it more attractive to golfers to obtain a handicap and strip away some of the complexity and variation which can be off-putting for newcomers,” Slumbers said. “Having a handicap, which is easier to understand and is truly portable around the world, can make golf much more enjoyable and is one of the unique selling points of our sport.”

    The new WHS system aims to more accurately gauge the score a golfer is “reasonably capable of achieving” on any course around the world under normal conditions.

    Key features of the WHS include:

    *Flexibility in formats of play, allowing both competitive and recreational rounds to count for handicap purposes and ensuring that a golfer’s handicap is more reflective of potential ability.

    *A minimal number of scores needed to obtain a new handicap; a recommendation that the number of scores needed to obtain a new handicap be 54 holes from any combination of 18-hole and 9-hole rounds, but with “some discretion available for handicapping authorities or national associations to set a different minimum within their own jurisdiction.”

    *A consistent handicap that “is portable” from course to course and country to country through worldwide use of the USGA course and slope rating system, already used in more than 80 countries.

    *An average-based calculation of a handicap, taken from the best eight out of the last 20 scores and “factoring in memory of previous demonstrated ability for better responsiveness and control.”

    *A calculation that considers the impact that abnormal course and weather conditions might have on a player’s performance each day.  

    *Daily handicap revisions, taking account of the course and weather conditions calculation.

    *A limit of net double bogey on the maximum hole score (for handicapping purposes only). 

    *A maximum handicap limit of 54.0, regardless of gender, to encourage more golfers to measure and track their performance to increase their enjoyment of the game.

    The USGA and the R&A devised the WHS after a review of the handicap systems currently administered by six authorities around the world: Golf Australia, the Council of National Golf Unions (CONGU) in Great Britain and Ireland, the European Golf Association (EGA), the South African Golf Association (SAGA), the Argentine Golf Association (AAG) and the USGA. Those authorities, plus the Japan Golf Association and Golf Canada, collaborated in helping develop the new system.

    The six handicapping authorities represent approximately 15 million golfers in 80 countries who currently maintain a golf handicap.  

    “While the six existing handicap systems have generally worked very well locally, on a global basis, their different characteristics have sometimes resulted in inconsistency, with players of the same ability ending up with slightly different handicaps,” the USGA and the R&A stated in a joint release. “This has sometimes resulted in unnecessary difficulties and challenges for golfers competing in handicap events or for tournament administrators. A single WHS will pave the way to consistency and portability.”

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    Honda Classic: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 19, 2018, 11:44 pm

    The PGA Tour heads back east to kick off the Florida Swing at PGA National. Here are the key stats and information for the Honda Classic. Click here for full-field tee times.

    How to watch:

    Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET

    Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET


    Purse: $6.6 million ($1,188,000 to the winner)

    Course: PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (par-70; 7,140 yards)

    Defending champion: Rickie Fowler (-12) won by four, picking off his fourth PGA Tour victory.


    Notables in the field:

    Tiger Woods

    • Making his fourth start at the Honda Classic and his first since withdrawing with back spasms in 2014.

    • Shot a Sunday 62 in a T-2 finish in 2012, marking his lowest career final-round score on the PGA Tour.

    • Coming off a missed cut at last week's Genesis Open, his 17th in his Tour career.


    Rickie Fowler

    • The defending champion owns the lowest score to par and has recorded the most birdies and eagles in this event since 2012.

    • Fowler's last start was at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he failed to close a 54-hole lead. Fowler is 1-for-6 with 54-hole leads in his Tour career, with his only successful close coming at last year's Honda.

    • On Tour this year, Fowler is first in scrambling from the fringe, second in total scrambling and third in strokes gained around the green. 


    Rory McIlroy

    • It's been feast or famine for McIlroy at the Honda. He won in 2012, withdrew with a toothache in 2013, finished T-2 in 2014 and missed the cut in 2015 and 2016.

    • McIlroy ascended to world No. 1 with his victory at PGA National in 2012, becoming the second youngest player at 22 years old to top the OWGR, behind only Woods. McIlroy was later edged by a slightly younger 22-year-old Jordan Spieth.

    • Since the beginning of 2010, only Dustin Johnson (15) has more PGA Tour victories than McIlroy (13). 

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    Randall's Rant: Tiger no longer one with the chaos

    By Randall MellFebruary 19, 2018, 9:49 pm

    Back in the day, Tiger Woods appeared to relish riding atop the chaos, above the raucous waves of excitement that followed him wherever he went.

    Like Kelly Slater surfing epic peaks at Banzai Pipeline ...

    Like Chris Sharma dangling atop all the hazards on the cliff face of “The Impossible Climb” at Clark Mountain ...

    Hell, like Chuck Yeager ahead of the sonic boom he created breaking the sound barrier in a Bell X-1 over the Mojave Desert in 1947.

    It was difficult to tell whether Woods was fueling the bedlam in his duel with Bob May in the 2000 PGA Championship, or if it was fueling him.

    Fans scampered in a frenzy you rarely see in golf to get the best look they could at his next shot at Valhalla in that playoff.

    Same thing when Woods turned his 15-shot rout into a victory parade in the final round of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach that same year.

    And when Woods improbably chipped in at the 16th at Augusta National to shake every pine tree at the Masters before going on to defeat Chris DiMarco in a playoff in 2005.

    Tiger brought a boisterous, turbulent new wave of excitement to the game, unrivaled since Arnie’s Army followed the legend in his heyday.

    Woods attracted new fans who did not understand golf’s time-honored traditions. He lured them to the game’s most hallowed grounds. There were challenges with that, though they always seemed more daunting to Woods’ playing partners than to him.

    At his best, Tiger seemed to be one with the chaos, able to turn its energy into his energy.

    Every Tiger pairing in his prime turned wherever he was into a home game, turned every golf course into his stadium and transformed every opponent into the visiting team.

    We heard how hard that was for the Bob Mays, Chris DiMarcos and even the Ernie Els of the world.



    That’s what added to the intrigue of Tiger’s return to Riviera last week, and what will make this week at PGA National and the Honda Classic similarly interesting.

    Tiger’s back.

    Well, the overly exuberant frenzy only he can create is back, but his game isn’t. Not yet. And now we’re hearing how the bedlam is a challenge to more than his playing partners. It’s a challenge to his game, too.

    “It cost me a lot of shots over the years,” Woods said at the Genesis Open. “It’s cost me a few tournaments here and there.

    “I’ve dealt with it for a very long time.”

    Huh? Did Tiger forget the advantage he had playing in a storm? Or are today’s storms different, more unruly, more destructive?

    Did having total control of all facets of his game when he was at his best make the bedlam work for him?

    Does the focus it requires to find his old magic today make the chaos work against him?

    Jack Nicklaus used to say that when he heard players complaining about difficult conditions going into a major, he checked them off his list of competitive threats.

    You wonder if Tiger did the same back in the day, when players talked about the challenges that surrounded a pairing with him.

    Golf is different than other sports. That has to be acknowledged here.

    When you hear mainstream sports fans wonder what is so wrong with a fan yelling in a player’s backswing, you know they don’t understand the game. A singular comment breaking the silence over a player’s shot in golf is like a fan sneaking onto the field in football and tripping a receiver racing up the sideline. It is game-changing chaos.

    Is Tiger facing game-changing chaos now?

    Or was Riviera’s noise something he just can’t harness in his current state of repair? Is there more pressure on him trying to come back in that environment?

    If Rory McIlroy needed a “couple Advil” for the headache the mayhem at the Genesis Open caused him playing with Tiger last week, then May and DiMarco must have needed shots of Demerol.

    Then all those guys who lost majors to Tiger in final-round pairings with him must have felt like they endured four-hour migraines.

    “It got a little out of hand,” Justin Thomas said of his two days with Tiger at Riviera.

    Maybe McIlroy and Thomas were dealing with something boisterously new, more Phoenix Open in its nausea than anything Tiger created when he broke golf out of a niche.

    Whatever it is, Tiger’s challenge finding his best will be even more complicated if he’s no longer one with the chaos, if he can no longer turn its energy into his energy.

    If that’s the case, he really may be just one of the guys this time around.

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    What's in the bag: Genesis Open winner Watson

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 19, 2018, 7:02 pm

    Bubba Watson won the Genesis Open for a third time in his career. Here's a look inside his bag:

    Driver: Ping G400 LST (7.6 degrees), with Grafalloy Bi-Matrix Prototype X shaft

    Hybrid: Ping G (19 degrees), with Matrix Altus Hybrid X shaft

    Irons: Ping iBlade (2), Ping S55 (4-PW), with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 shafts

    Wedges: Ping Glide 2.0 (52 degrees, 56 degrees, 62 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 shafts

    Putter: Ping PLD Anser

    Ball: Titleist Pro V1x