Gay wins Humana in playoff over Howell, Lingmerth

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2013, 1:13 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Brian Gay won the Humana Challenge on Sunday, beating Charles Howell III with a 5 1/2-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a playoff after front-running Scott Stallings gave away a large lead.

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. Stallings, five strokes ahead entering the round, bogeyed the final hole for a 70 to miss the playoff by a stroke.


Video: Gay takes Humana Challenge in playoff


The 41-year-old Gay began the round six strokes behind Stallings.

''The thoughts were, 'Just be aggressive, shoot as low as you can,''' Gay said. ''I knew Scott was five ahead. Even with a great round, a really low round, it would be tough to catch him, if at all. I played great on the front, just tried to stay aggressive and shoot low.''

Gay and Howell opened the playoff with birdies on the par-5 18th, and Lingmerth dropped out with a bogey after hitting his approach into the left-side water.

Gay won on the par-4 10th, hitting a perfect drive and putting his 9-iron second shot in good position below the hole. Howell drove into the right rough, hit his second into the back bunker, blasted out to 15 feet and two-putted for bogey.

''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. Last year was a struggle. It was a long year, a lot of work. I just wanted to come out this year kind of refocused, recharged, and believing in myself.''

Howell tied for second a week after opening the season with a third-place tie in Hawaii in the Sony Open. He won the last of his two Tour titles in 2007.

''Anybody that says that that golf is fun or whatever, has really not done it for a living,'' Howell said. ''I would never characterize this as fun. It's different than that. It's awfully challenging mentally and the chances to win are what we want.''

After birdieing nine of the first 13 holes, Gay finished regulation with five straight pars. On the 18th, he missed the green to the right and failed to hole an 8-foot birdie try.

''I felt like I gave one back with a par on 18 there,'' Gay said. ''Was fortunate enough to feel like I had a second chance with two guys left that didn't birdie the hole. Kind of a second chance, if you will. I was happy to be in the playoff at that point.''

Given that second chance, he outlasted Howell for his fourth PGA Tour title. He won the Verizon Heritage and St. Jude Classic in 2009 and the Mayakoba Golf Classic in 2008.

Playing in the second-to-last group, Howell had a chance to pull ahead on the final hole of regulation, but left his approach about 85 feet short and three-putted for par. His 5-foot birdie try made a sharp left turn inches from hole.

''Quite honestly, going into the day, I didn't really think that anybody had a chance apart from Scott,'' Howell said. ''He's won before, he hits it long enough to take advantage of the par 5s. At 22 under, I figured if he shoots 6, 7 under, he's really not catchable. So, then to have a chance there in regulation, that's where I really would like that one back, that three-putt there. But it happens and once you get a playoff, anything can happen.''

Stallings hit a 315-yard drive on the 18th to set up a 6-iron approach from 220 yards. The ball landed in the left rough, bounced into rocks and finished in the water. After a penalty drop, he chipped to 10 feet and missed his par try.

''I felt great. There wasn't any nerves or anything like that going into it,'' Stallings said. ''Just hit a bad shot. Same thing that happened on 14. Felt like I made a good swing, just ball came off a little right and got a bad kick and went in the water.

''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.''

The two-time tour winner saved par on the par-5 14th after hitting his into the All-American Canal on the right side, but dropped a stroke on the par-4 16th after his 4-iron tee shot went farther than he expected and ended up in the lip of a fairway bunker.

''You're going to have your good days and your bad days, but if you live and die with every shot out there, your career is not going to last very long out there,'' Stallings said.

Making his second career PGA Tour start, Lingmerth hit his 4-iron approach way left into the water in the playoff. He had an awkward stance on the shot with the ball above his feet.

''I didn't feel that comfortable over it, obviously,'' Lingmerth said. ''I just hit a bad shot. I wish I could have it back. ... I was fortunate to have a chance here, and I'm sure I'll learn from it looking forward to the next opportunity.''

Phil Mickelson had a 66 to tie for 37th at 17 under in his season debut. He was making his start since the HSBC Champions in early November in China.

''I was rusty starting the year,'' Mickelson said. ''I had a great four days here where I can work on my game with perfect weather and wonderful golf courses, where I could build some momentum. Heading into San Diego, I feel a lot more confident in my game. I feel like I'm starting to play well, hit some putts on line.''

DIVOTS: James Hahn eagled the last for a 62 to tie for fourth with Stallings. ... Russell Henley, the Sony Open winner last week in his first start as a PGA Tour member, tied for 56th at 15 under after a 69. ... FedEx Cup champion Brandt Snedeker shot a 67 to tie for 23rd at 19 under. He was the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 8.

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.