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Brian Gay: The Everyman's Champion


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#1 JohnnyDub

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 06:27 PM


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 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 Gay 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. He now has a game for any ball park.

If you don’t think Gay is like the rest of us check out his GolfWRX WITB below, 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

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Edited by JohnnyDub, 21 January 2013 - 08:39 PM.


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#2 TheMoneyShot

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 06:51 PM

Great info, thanks!

#3 dutxdeanster

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 08:18 PM

Super write-up!  Thanks!

#4 Sean2

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 08:49 PM

Very well done. :-)
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#5 shawnee

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 10:52 PM

great write up, good to see BG get the W and KH on the bag -- great combo those two

what I heard at the end of the telecast after BG says new r1 driver blah-blah was, and (I am paraphrasing here) "I also want to thank Grant Waite who he had been working with"....

Love the GW golf swing.

http://wn.com/grant_waite

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#6 MtlJeff

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 11:26 PM

it's easy to say he's the everyman's champion because of strictly distance. But his short game and putting (9 straight years in the top 25 of strokes gained for putting, and that's just because the PGA stats on their site only go back to 2004) is hardly what one would consider everyman. His putting is better compared to Joe couch potato then Bubba Watson's driving is. People sometimes can just be too concerned with distance. Brian Gay would make the everyman look like a complete buffoon on the putting green
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#7 78Staff

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 11:47 PM

Isn't Brian Gay the guy who was going to sue the PGA tour over money lost in an event when he was penalized a stroke for waiting longer than 10 seconds for a putt to drop...which it subsequently did but he didn't add the stroke.  Couple years back...
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#8 Thrillhouse

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 11:56 PM

View PostMtlJeff, on 21 January 2013 - 11:26 PM, said:

it's easy to say he's the everyman's champion because of strictly distance. But his short game and putting (9 straight years in the top 25 of strokes gained for putting, and that's just because the PGA stats on their site only go back to 2004) is hardly what one would consider everyman. His putting is better compared to Joe couch potato then Bubba Watson's driving is. People sometimes can just be too concerned with distance. Brian Gay would make the everyman look like a complete buffoon on the putting green

Agreed, he is far from an Everyman on the course, he's an abnormally good player by any standard.

#9 Mountaineer

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 12:04 AM

I'm just glad I picked him that week for my golf channel fantasy picks lol!

#10 bobfoster

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 12:06 AM

Who is Brian Gay? Sorry ... but isn't the dude like, a sorta mediocre player? Yeah ... he has his Card, but last year he played in 28 tourneys, and missed the cut in 10 of them.

Don't mean to trash talk him ... 'cause anyone that makes the PGA Tour has got some serious game. But the dude made less than $1MM in all of last year.  Fun to watch him win a minor tourney here, but I'm not thinking the guy is going to boost viewership numbers anytime soon ...


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#11 MtlJeff

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 12:26 AM

View Postbobfoster, on 22 January 2013 - 12:06 AM, said:

Who is Brian Gay? Sorry ... but isn't the dude like, a sorta mediocre player? Yeah ... he has his Card, but last year he played in 28 tourneys, and missed the cut in 10 of them.

Don't mean to trash talk him ... 'cause anyone that makes the PGA Tour has got some serious game. But the dude made less than $1MM in all of last year.  Fun to watch him win a minor tourney here, but I'm not thinking the guy is going to boost viewership numbers anytime soon ...

mediocre is probably not the right word. 4 PGA tour wins actually puts him tied for top 200 players ever in terms of PGA wins. When you think 100+ players each year get their card. Gay is the elite of he elite really. Granted he's not Mr Woods, but 4 PGA wins isn't mediocre
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#12 anth

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 12:46 AM

View Postbobfoster, on 22 January 2013 - 12:06 AM, said:

Who is Brian Gay? Sorry ... but isn't the dude like, a sorta mediocre player? Yeah ... he has his Card, but last year he played in 28 tourneys, and missed the cut in 10 of them.

Don't mean to trash talk him ... 'cause anyone that makes the PGA Tour has got some serious game. But the dude made less than $1MM in all of last year.  Fun to watch him win a minor tourney here, but I'm not thinking the guy is going to boost viewership numbers anytime soon ...

Great post.  Really adds to the conversation.  Reminiscent of your "who is Michael Sim" post.  Good to see you've learnt from that debacle.
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#13 ecfritts

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 02:25 PM

I always like it when a non bomber wins...kinda cool to see how the short knockers get it around and shoot great numbers.  As far as Gay not being that good...it always amazes me how people think that because a guy only wins a couple of times that he's no good.  What Tiger did was not human!  It's hard to just maintain status on tour, let alone win.
I was talking to a tour caddie once and I commented what a great putter Gay was and he told me that he maily pratices 5 footers and some work on long putts (pace).  Whatever he does it seems to work!

#14 Anchor44

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 12:09 PM

Brian Gay appears to be the American Ian Poulter.  I suspect they both worry if their hair is messed up just the right amount or if their orange/green shoes match their accoutrements as much as they worry about anything else.




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