Tue, Apr 21, 2009 - Page 19 News List

Gay fires 20-under for record victory at Hilton

AFP , HILTON HEAD, SOUTH CAROLINA

Brian Gay fired a final-round 64 on Sunday to complete a record-setting victory in the Verizon Heritage Classic.

Gay’s total of 20-under 264 broke the tournament scoring record of 19-under set by Loren Roberts in 1996.

Gay won by a whopping 10 strokes, also a record at Harbor Town Golf Links.

“Just another unbelievable day,” Gay said.

England’s Luke Donald carded a 66 and American Briny Baird posted a 68 to share second on 10-under 274. It was a further stroke back to Lee Janzen (71) and Todd Hamilton (70).

Gay nabbed the second PGA Tour title of his career to go with his triumph at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico last year.

That victory came in Gay’s 293rd USPGA Tour start and it also came in the same week that Tiger Woods was winning the World Golf Championships’ Match Play event — putting Gay’s achievement in the background.

He said he was pleased to show his long-awaited first title wasn’t a fluke.

“Yeah, it’s a bit of validation,” Gay said.

Gay’s margin of victory was the largest on the US tour since Phil Mickelson won the 2006 BellSouth Classic by 13 strokes.

Along with a US$1 million first prize, Gay earned a spot in next year’s Masters, something he didn’t get with his previous victory.

“I’ve had a lot of heartache not getting in that tournament, winning [and] not getting in, and missing by one spot on the money list two times,” said Gay, who has never played in the Masters.

Gay took a three-shot lead into the final round, but said he tried to just focus on his round, rather than on his lead and whether it was growing or dwindling.

Gay birdied the first hole, landing his approach shot within 10 feet, and at the second he drained a 57-footer for eagle.

The only question on the back nine was whether Gay could break Roberts’ scoring record.

Gay bogeyed 12 to fall to 17-under. But he birdied the next and matched Roberts with a birdie at the par-five 15th. He sank a 15-footer at 16 to get to seven-under for the day and 20-under overall.

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