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Brian Gay: The Everyman’s Champion

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Brian Gay fired a final-round 63 on Sunday to capture the Humana Challenge and his fourth career PGA Tour victory.

He overtook Charles Howell III with a birdie on the second playoff hole in addition to overcoming a six-stroke margin over third-round leader Scott Stallings, who going into the final round seemed unbeatable.

“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’s triumph in La Quinta will be extensively documented over the next few days as is the case with any Tour winner. But the most compelling thing about Gay’s victory wasn’t the win itself, but but the amount of struggle he endured to get it.  As Tour players go, he’s as close to a “Normal Joe” as you will find on Tour and the past year was a true testament to this. Gay, like many of us, sacrificed his confidence and probably his sanity for the all-elusive goal of hitting the ball a little farther.

After a relatively successful 2011 campaign where he had three top-10 finishes and finished 56th on the money list, Gay decided that his success depended too much on the length of the golf course and, like many weekend golf enthusiasts, he went on the hunt for an extra 15 yards. Keep in mind that the search for extra yardage for a Tour pro is far more complicated than it is for the rest of us. His equipment is already fine-tuned to maximize distance. He can’t go to his local golf shop and find that magic driver in the bucket that happens to fit him perfectly. For him, that process is already done. For Ga,y it was about mechanics and getting stronger. He enlisted the help of instructors Grant Waite and Joe Mayo and reformed his action to try to gain the yardage he would need to compete week in and week out.

“My whole game’s been about accuracy and short game,” Gay said. “I’ve always been a short hitter on the Tour and I felt like as I was getting older I’m only going to get shorter and shorter. …It was tough last year trying to play making those changes.”

Last year was an all-out struggle for Gay. He opened the season with tie for sixth at the Sony Open, but he saw his season fall apart from there. In the next 26 tournaments he played, he missed 10 cuts with his best finish being a T20 at The AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. The only real positive he was able to muster came at the final tournament of the year, The Children’s Miracle Network Classic, where the swing changes finally started to click. After a year of bottoms, he was able to see some light at the end of the tunnel, finishing fourth. That allowed Gay to go into the off-season with some confidence.

“It’s tough to go out and make changes and try to play on the Tour,” Gay said. “The Tour’s hard enough, when you go out and you’re trying to do new stuff and trusting it. So it’s easy to kind of get on that downward spiral, if you will. So it felt like a battle most of the year … I actually started out decent last year, but the summer was long and tough, and I think Disney helped me a bunch. I played really good at Disney to end the year on a good note. And I just felt recharged and refocused to get off and have a great year this year.”

On Sunday, after Gay rolled in his 5-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole to secure victory, he completed one of the hardest things to do in sport: rise from the ashes. Coming into his 19th year as a professional and 15th on the Tour, it would be safe to say that Gay probably has everything he needs financially with over $16 million in life-time earnings, but this victory is a perfect example of just how tenacious he is. This trait can be traced all the way back to the military home where he grew up, going from place to place before finally settling in Alabama and then on to becoming a two-time All-American for Buddy Alexander at the University of Florida.

Gay has plotted along his whole life and now at 41 years old, he is armed with a new weapon in his bag (an extra 15 yards) and the confidence to know that he has the ability to lose his game and than find it again.

If you don’t think Gay like the rest of us check on GolfWRX out his WITB below, a which includes equipment from five different OEMs. Gay become the second Tour player in three weeks to win with the TaylorMade R1 driver, and the first to win in 2013 with the new Titleist Pro V1X golf ball.

DRIVER: Taylor Made R1 (9°) with an Oban Kiyoshi White shaft
FAIRWAY WOOD: Adams Speedline LS (13 degrees) with an Oban Kiyoshi White shaft
HYBRIDS: Taylormade Rocketballz Tour (16.5 degrees) and TaylorMade Rescue TP (19 degrees) with Aldila NV shafts
IRONS: TaylorMade RocketBladez (4), Mizuno MP-60 (5-8); Mizuno MP-32 (9, PW) with Project X 6.0 shafts
WEDGES: Titleist Vokey (56 and 60 degrees) with True Temper DG Spinner shafts
PUTTER: Bettinardi BBS Tour Prototype
BALL: 2013 Titleist Pro V1x

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour Talk” forum.

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John Wunder was born in Seattle, Wash., and grew up playing at Rainier G&CC. He moved to Southern California when he had the rare opportunity of working in the Anaheim Angels clubhouse and has been living in Cali. ever since. He has a severe passion/addiction for the game and has been a member of GolfWRX since 2005. He now works as the Director of Development and Production for The Coalition Group in Los Angeles, Calif.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Troy Vayanos

    Jan 22, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    Quite amazing for a touring professional who finished 56th on the money list to not have one manufacturer providing all of his equipment.

    I imagine this is the way Brian Gay likes it and doesn’t want to part with a number of his favourite clubs?

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An instructor’s perspective on the Chamblee/Dufner Twitter controversy

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If you have not had a chance to read the latest exchange on Twitter between Brandel Chamblee and Jason Dufner — and his teacher Chuck Cook — you have missed a wonderful controversy brewing. As you may know, Brandel is never one to hide his feelings on his views of the golf swing (he’s against The Golfing Machine teachings). And when people disagree with him (Jason Dufner), he’s not hesitant to tackle his opposition head on.

I’d like to take the time to weigh-in on what I feel should be focused on from an instruction standpoint, instead of what has been said on Twitter in this controversy.

Brandel’s side

First of all, I consider Brandel to be a friend of mine and he has been nothing but gracious to me during my professional career; though we have differing viewpoints on certain things. I have often called or emailed him, asking his opinion on one thing or another, and he has never failed to answer me. In fact, I love hearing what he has to say, even if it’s the opposite of what I feel personally and professionally — he hardly speaks without research to back it up. When you have the kind of stage he has, you must be armed with facts.

As we all know, Brandel is not a fan of the new breed of instruction. He prefers the old school methods, and clearly from his initial Tweet that sparked the entire controversy, he prefers an upright backswing. He is not a fan of most technologies used on the lesson tee, and he is very vocal regarding the Golfing Machine book and the Trackman launch monitor. While I hold both these things dear to me personally, I do understand how he could not be as convinced as I am of their successes within the game.

People must understand his opinion is a matter of perspective, and though he has this perspective as a player, and as a player-turned-teacher, he does not have the thousands and thousands of hours on the lesson tee. This does not make him right or wrong, it just gives him a different viewpoint.

Dufner’s side

As a teacher myself, I admire Dufner’s rise to fame and to the top ranks as a player, and I applaud him for doing so in spite of the odds and the drama that has gone on within his personal life over the last few years. I am proud to see him step up on a public forum and defend Chuck Cook (his long time teacher) on this Twitter thread. It is refreshing to see! Though I don’t know Jason, I’d like to shake his hand for doing so. My biggest gripe with Tour Professionals, in general, is their failure to stand by their instructors when things are not going well.

The last time I saw a player defending his teacher this adamantly was in a text string I had with Kevin Kisner (who is a great guy and friend) and John Tillery (his teacher and also a friend), who was not picked as one of the Top-100 Teachers on the latest list by Golf Magazine. As I told Kevin and John, it is a matter of time before he is recognized by Golf Magazine. The lists are subjective and many things go into the selection process; they make good choices and other times they make mistakes. John is a heck of a teacher and will always be Top 100 in my book! So kudos to Jason and Kevin for standing up for their guys…they both deserve it 100 percent.

Chuck Cook’s side

How Chuck was dragged into the middle of this whole controversy is beyond me, because he is one of the nicest and most soft-spoken guys. I also consider him the top-1 percent of teachers within our business. Chuck was in Vail for many years while I was also teaching there, and we have been on many outings together. He has been nothing but professional to all of us and anyone he comes into contact with personally. When someone questions him or his ability to teach at the highest levels, I can only say look at the two U.S. Open Champs he has taught, as well as what he’s done with countless other people within the game of golf. He is a smart and stand-up guy and deserves nothing but respect from all of us.

Chuck, I wish I could be HALF the teacher and person you are and have always been! That is a fact.

The Golfing Machine

Now, we could write an entire article series on the book I call my bible within the golfing world. However, 99 percent of the people in the world call it a “method,” or too complex, although every top teacher uses its methodologies within their instruction. It is ONLY an encyclopedia of motion — that’s it. It tells you what will and will not work together during the swing. What the book lacks has been the proper messenger to get the word across and that blame is only on timing. That’s not a knock on the past teachers who have used it or the players on Tour who have employed it.

Homer’s great book was born in 1969, and sadly the world would not be ready to hear these type of ideas in this type of format until now. And, like anything, it has been grossly misunderstood. The book and teachings have been chastised and will continue to be until a few more generations realize the greatness of what is contained within its pages. Only time will help our cause.

The Conclusion

Its all good… it’s not a big deal people! Please understand we ALL come from different places within the game and have our own opinions based on our perspective. Remember that these are all subject to change and can at any time. Every one of the people in that string of Tweets have their own agenda to promote and have the basis to call themselves great in what they do for a living. As long as we all have a drink and a laugh together at the end of the day, I see no harm in a gentleman’s disagreement between friends as long as nothing was done out of malice.

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Friday’s Photos from the 2017 QBE Shootout

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2017 QBE Shootout at Tiburon G.C. in Naples, Florida. Formerly known as the Franklin Templeton Shootout, or the Shark Shootout, the unofficial event plays host to 24 of some of the world’s best golfers, competing in a two-person team competition. The format calls for 54 holes; first-round scramble, second-round modified alternate shot, and third-round fourball (or better ball).

Related

Here is a list of the teams:

  • Daniel Berger-Gary Woodland
  • Keegan Bradley-Brendan Steele
  • Kevin Chappell-Kevin Kisner
  • Jason Dufner-Billy Horschel
  • Harris English-Matt Kuchar
  • Tony Finau-Lexi Thompson
  • Brian Harman-Pat Perez
  • Russell Henley-Kyle Stanley
  • Charley-Hoffman-Zach Johnson
  • Shane Lowry-Graeme McDowell
  • Brandt Snedeker-Bubba Watson
  • Sean O’Hair-Steve Stricker

Last year, Harris English and Matt Kuchar took down the crown, finishing at 28-under par for the event. Of course, they’ll be playing together again this year as the defending champs.

Check out our photos from the 2017 QBE Shootout below!

Friday’s Galleries

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums.

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Thursday’s Photos from the 2017 QBE Shootout

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2017 QBE Shootout at Tiburon G.C. in Naples, Florida. Formerly known as the Franklin Templeton Shootout, or the Shark Shootout, the unofficial event plays host to 24 of some of the world’s best golfers, competing in a two-person team competition. The format calls for 54 holes; first-round scramble, second-round modified alternate shot, and third-round fourball (or better ball).

Related: Wednesday’s Photos

Here is a list of the teams:

  • Daniel Berger-Gary Woodland
  • Keegan Bradley-Brendan Steele
  • Kevin Chappell-Kevin Kisner
  • Jason Dufner-Billy Horschel
  • Harris English-Matt Kuchar
  • Tony Finau-Lexi Thompson
  • Brian Harman-Pat Perez
  • Russell Henley-Kyle Stanley
  • Charley-Hoffman-Zach Johnson
  • Shane Lowry-Graeme McDowell
  • Brandt Snedeker-Bubba Watson
  • Sean O’Hair-Steve Stricker

Last year, Harris English and Matt Kuchar took down the crown, finishing at 28-under par for the event. Of course, they’ll be playing together again this year as the defending champs.

Check out our photos from the 2017 QBE Shootout below!

Thursday’s Galleries

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums.

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