LA QUINTA, Ca. — Brian Gay made up a six-shot deficit and outlasted Charles Howell III and David Lingmerth in a playoff for his fourth PGA Tour win at the Humana Challenge.
Gay dropped in a 5 1/2-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a playoff to be Howell, who bogeyed the hole.
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.
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 145-yard 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.
Scott Stallings had started the final 18 holes with a five-stroke advantage but he missed the playoff when he hit his second shot at the par-5 18th hole into the water and wound up making bogey.
Gay missed an 8-footer for birdie at the 18th hole that as it ended up would have given him the lead alone. Howell had an 88-foot eagle putt but ended up three-putting for par to join Gay and Lingmerth at 25 under.
Lingerth birdied the 18th hole for his 62. Gay shot 63 and Howell, who was tied for second at the start of the day, had a 64.
Stallings had a chance to join the playoff even after bouncing off the rocks into the water. He chipped 9 feet by, though, and missed the putt.
“I just hit a bad shot at a bad time,” Stallings said.
Leaderboard: Brian Gay, 67-66-67-63—263 (-25) (won in playoff); Charles Howell III, 67-65-67-64—263 (-25); David Lingmerth, 68-64-69-62—263 (-25); Scott Stallings, 66-65-63-70—264 (-24); James Hahn, 63-67-72-62—264 (-24).
— Gay claims his fourth career PGA Tour win in his 432nd career start at the age of 41 years, 1 month, 6 days after a 2-hole playoff with Charles Howell III and David Lingmerth (eliminated after the first hole). Gay previously won the 2008 Mayakoba Golf Classic, the 2009 Verizon Heritage and 2009 FedEx St. Jude Classic.
— Gay began the final round six strokes off the lead at 16-under. A Sunday surge up the leaderboard with a 9-under 63 resulted in the eventual win.
— The final-round comeback marks a continuing trend on Tour. The 2012 season featured seven players that came from six or more strokes back after 54 holes to win on.
8 — Kyle Stanley/Waste Management Phoenix Open
7 — Brandt Snedeker/Farmers Insurance Open
7 — John Huh/Mayakoba Golf Classic
7 — Tommy Gainey/McGladrey Classic
6 — Phil Mickelson/AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
6 — Marc Leishman/Travelers Championship
6 — Ernie Els/British Open
— This is the eighth playoff at the Humana Challenge since 1990. Most recently, Jhonattan Vegas defeated Bill Haas and Gary Woodland on the second extra hole in 2011.
— There were nine playoffs on Tour in 2012, the first of which came at the Farmers Insurance Open (Brandt Snedeker over Kyle Stanley).
— With the win, Gay earns a 2-year exemption, taking him through the 2015 season.
— The Humana Challenge win earns Gay an invitation to the 2013 Masters (T27/2012).
— This was Gay’s 12th start in the Humana Challenge. His previous best finish in La Quinta was a T5 in 2011. He finished T42 last year.
— Gay’s last over-par round in this event came in the final round of 2007 (74), a span of 28 rounds.
Charles Howell III
— Howell turned in an 8-under 64 in round four of the Humana Challenge, before succumbing to Brian Gay on the second hole of sudden death. He finished P2 with rookie David Lingmerth. Howell’s 64 Sunday brings his string of sub-par rounds in this event to 33/36. This was Howell’s 14th runner-up finish.
— Howell was making his eighth Humana Challenge start this week, with a T6 in his debut of 2002 being his previous best.
— Howell finished T3 last week at the Sony Open in Hawaii (66-64-67-66—263, 17-under). Howell has played eight rounds this season and does not have a round over 67. He had three bogeys at the Sony Open in Hawaii and surrendered four this week.
— The last time Howell posted back-to-back top-5s was in 2011 at the AT&T National (T3) and John Deere Classic (T5). Prior to the AT&T National, he finished FedEx St. Jude Classic (T3), making it three straight top-5 finishes.
— Howell was in search of his third career PGA Tour victory this week, and first since the 2007 Northern Trust Open. Howell first won at the 2002 Michelob Championship at Kingsmill.
— Stallings began the day with a 5-stroke lead, which was essentially erased before making the turn. After his second shot on the par-5 72nd hole found the water hazard.
— Stallings was the only player without a bogey in the first three rounds. The last player to win on Tour with no bogeys over 72 holes is Lee Trevino at the 1974 Greater New Orleans Open. Stallings’ first of three bogeys didn’t come until the par-4 seventh hole in round four.
— This marked Stallings’ third start in this event. He missed the 72-hole cut in 2011 and was forced to withdraw after the first round last year when he tore cartilage in five ribs.
— Stallings’ wife Jennifer is due to have their first child in the next couple weeks. Scott broke the news about Jennifer being pregnant during a Golf Channel interview on No. 18 at Annandale Golf Club right after he won the True South Classic in July.
— Rookie Lingmerth posted a bogey-free, 10-under 62 on Sunday to place himself in sudden death with Brian Gay and Charles Howell III in just his second-ever Toue start (T31/Sony Open in Hawaii).
— Despite the career-low score, the Swede struggled statistically in round four, hitting just eight of 13 fairways and 13 of 18 greens in regulation. The statistical exception, however, was on the putting surface. Lingmerth needed just 21 putts in Sunday’s final round.
— Lingmerth makes his way onto the PGA Tour by virtue of a 10th-place finish on the Web.com Tour in 2012, where he collected five top-10 finishes.