Warren’s Kokrak ties Chappell for 8th place
LA QUINTA, CALIF.
Brian Gay won the Humana Challenge, beating Charles Howell III with a 51/2-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a playoff after front-running Scott Stallings gave away a large lead.
Warren’s Jason Kokrak shot a 7-under 65 on Sunday to finished tied for eighth place with Kevin Chappell.
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.
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.”
Kokrak’s round included eight birdies and a bogey.