After record effort, color Gay victorious

The Associated PressApril 20, 2009 

To fully appreciate what Brian Gay did Sunday in winning the Verizon Heritage golf tournament, you had to see it.

Not his tournament record-setting 10-stroke victory over Luke Donald and Briny Baird. That had all the drama of a library visit.

His outfit.

In shooting a final-round 64 to set the tournament scoring record at 20-under-par 264 around Harbour Town in Hilton Head Island, S.C., Gay became the first Heritage champion to pair the winner's red tartan jacket with margarita-green pants and a white shirt.

His clothes speak louder than the 37-year-old does.

"It's not as bad as I thought," Gay said analyzing his ensemble, which was accessorized by the champion's trophy sitting on a table beside him. "I planned to wear the pants today. I wasn't going to worry about the jacket."

Gay didn't have anything to worry about Sunday, especially after he doubled what had been a three-stroke lead to six when he started with a birdie and an eagle to siphon any potential drama out of the overcast afternoon.

The margin of victory was the largest on the PGA Tour since Phil Mickelson won the 2006 BellSouth Classic by 13 strokes, and it is one of only five double-digit victories in the past decade.

"It's as good as I've seen," said CBS golf announcer David Feherty, who spent the weekend following Gay. "On a technical golf course like this where sometimes you have only half the fairway to play to off the tee, he's been very, very impressive."

Gay is in his second decade on the PGA Tour, where he has made a nice living but relatively few headlines. It took him 293 tries to win his first event -- the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Cancun last year -- and that came with an asterisk because the top 64 players in the world rankings were playing in the World Golf Championship match-play event.

Over the past three-plus years, Gay has quietly elevated his play. A former University of Florida golfer, Gay isn't among the tour's longer hitters but is effective at maneuvering the ball.

At Harbour Town, with oaks encroaching on fairways and around greens, Gay worked his way from shot to shot precisely, avoiding trouble and bogeys. Even when he put his tee shot behind a palm tree and in a divot on the 16th hole Sunday, Gay carved a big slice around a tree to within 16 feet of the hole.

"It was good to watch," said Tim Wilkinson, who started the day in second but faded to a tie for sixth with a final-round 73.

ALSO SUNDAY

OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE PRO-AM: Nick Price, 52, took his first Champions Tour victory at Lutz, Fla., overcoming three double bogeys in an up-and-down final-round 71.

With a par putt on the 18th hole, Price finished with a two-shot victory over Larry Nelson to end an 0-for-38 streak on the Champions Tour and win his first title since the 2002 MasterCard Colonial, a span of 111 tour events.

VOLVO CHINA OPEN: Australian Scott Strange won by one stroke over Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, shooting a 4-under 68.

Strange had five birdies in the final round to finish at 8-under 280 at the 7,321-yard Beijing CBD International Golf Club.

"It's reward for putting all those hours in at the range and all that time on the putting green," said Strange, who won the Wales Open in June. "I'm still here. ... I lost that for a while, straight after Wales, for about six months. To do this now is sort of putting the ship back on course."

European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie (73) finished at 1 over in the jointly sanctioned event.

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