Gay Captures First Career Title

By Associated PressFebruary 24, 2008, 5:00 pm
2007 Mayakoba Golf ClassicPLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mxico -- Brian Gays 8-year-old daughter had it on good authority that her father would earn his first PGA Tour victory Sunday.
 
The defending champs 12-year-old son told her so Saturday night.
 
Although Gay didnt know about the prediction, he did a nice job making it hold up, shooting a 1-under 69 in the final round to win the Mayakoba Golf Classic by two shots over Steve Marino.
 
The PGA TOURs second annual visit south of the border became Gays to lose when he closed the third round with birdies on five of the last six holes. He took a five-stroke lead into the final round and led by at least four throughout the first 16 holes Sunday. Marino moved a shot closer on each of the last two holes, but all it changed was the margin of victory.
 
Even though I had a big lead, it was tough just trying to not make mistakes, you know, just trying to make pars and get the ball in the center of the green, Gay said.
 
In his 293rd career start, the 36-year-old Gay finally was a winner; only 12 active players have entered more events without breaking through. Hes the first first-time winner on tour this year.
 
Its been a long time, obviously, a lot of hard work, he said. So this is really a big, big relief to finally do it.
 
Then again, Taylor Funk'whose dad, Fred, won the inaugural event'knew it was going to happen after Gays birdie flurry Saturday. At the hotel pool a few hours later, he told Makinley Gay, Your dads going to win.
 
Makinley told her mom, Kimberly, who then decided to keep that story between them to avoid adding to the pressure Daddy already felt. That may have been a good idea considering Gay didnt exactly storm to victory on a hot, hardly windy day that seemed ideal for scoring low.
 
He was even through 10 holes, offsetting a pair of birdies with a pair of bogeys, but was still comfortably ahead because none of the other contenders made a move. He went back under par for the day with birdies on 11 and 13.
 
Marino, however, birdied 11, 13 and 14, getting within four strokes with four holes left.
 
Gays tee shot on 16 went in the bunker and his chip was well short of the pin. If he was going to crack, this was going to be it. Instead, he saved par by sinking a putt from at least 30 feet. In a rare display of emotion, Gay even gave a little fist pump. He breathed a little easier when he got on the 17th green in two shots; although he three-putted, he still figured the tournament was his.
 
The notion really hit him as he walked toward the 18th green, receiving the traditional cheers for the champion.
 
It was different than I thought it would be, Gay said. Working so hard all day, I had a hard time just letting it go and really enjoying it.
 
Gay finished at 16-under 264, one stroke better than Funks winning score last year, when Gay tied for 41st.
 
Marino, who closed with a 66, finished two strokes back. John Merrick, the leader after each of the first two rounds, and Matt Kuchar tied for third at 268.
 
I just didnt really make enough putts to put any serious heat on Brian, said Marino, who was eighth here last year.
 
Crowd favorite Esteban Toledo of Mexico wasnt able to match his Saturday surge, shooting a 72 to tie for 11th.
 
Short off the tee but terrific with a putter, Gay never struggled for victories until moving up to golfs highest level. Hes the only two-time winner of the SEC championship and he helped Florida win the national title in 1993. He won nine of 40 mini-tour starts in 1995, but didnt become a regular on the PGA TOUR until 1999. Until this weekend, his best finish was a pair of ties for second.
 
One of those came at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, which hes long considered his favorite tournament. Part of his affinity is for the members, who have practically adopted him because he was born in Fort Worth.
 
Alas, Hogans Alley now moves to second on his list, behind Mayakoba and the 6,923-yard El Camaleon course designed by Greg Norman. After all, Gay shot the lowest round of his career (62, Saturday) and collected his biggest paycheck ($630,000, nearly double his previous best).
 
I guess this has to be my favorite now that I won, Gay said, laughing.
 
The only downer might be that he didnt stare down the PGA TOUR's best, as Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and 62 others were at the Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona.
 
But to Gay, a win is a win. Like all other PGA TOUR winners, he gets a spot in the champs-only Mercedes-Benz Championship in Hawaii next year and is exempt through 2010.
 
It doesnt matter who was here or whats the purse or anything like that, he said. Its just a matter of the fact that I was able to go out and do it and finally get a win.
 
He even has a new 100-pound limestone chameleon trophy to prove it.
 
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  • Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

    He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

    Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

    Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

    Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

    Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

    Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

    Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title


    Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

    Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

    Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open


    Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

    Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

    Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59


    Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

    Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63


    Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

    Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut


    Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

    Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club


    Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

    Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth


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    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

    Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

    By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

    The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

    They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

    Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

    Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

    Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

    ''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

    The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

    In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

    Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

    Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

    By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

    Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

    Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

    Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

    Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

    It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

    The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.