Gay storms to record Heritage triumph

Brian Gay had good reason to wear shades at the Heritage Classic at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. If it was not the sunshine, at least his golf was brightening up his life in record fashion.

Recognised as one of the best putters on the PGA Tour, Gay shot a seven-under-par 64 in the final round for a tournament record 20-under 264 and a 10-stroke victory over Luke Donald and Briny Baird.

A 60-foot eagle putt on the second hole established the tone for the day as he set the course alight to beat the previous record of 265 made by Loren Roberts in 1996.

Dropping just two shots all tournament, Gay picked up his second title on the Tour. He told Reuters afterwards:

“This feels great. It was just a phenomenal week, virtually mistake-free. I didn’t see a leaderboard all day. We were just out there doing our thing. I just wanted to stay focused and I kept looking down.”

Donald closed with 66, which featured eight birdies while Baird ended with a 68. Former US Open winners Lee Janzen and Todd Hamilton were tied for fourth on 275 while former Masters winner Jose Maria Olazabal shared sixth place with Tim Wilkinson on 276.

One stroke further behind were Rory Sabbatini, Matt Weibring and Tim Petrovic.

Apart from a tournament low, Gay’s margin of victory was also better than Davis Love III’s previous record of seven in 1998. Gay was also the first golfer on Tour to win an event by 10 or more strokes since Phil Mickelson in 2006.

His first victory on the circuit was the Mayakoba Golf Classic last year in Mexico.

On the other side of the world, in Beijing, there was another momentous occasion for global golf with the first OneAsia tournament being held – the China Open – and Australian Scott Strange claiming victory.

OneAsia is the brand new professional tour in Asia and is a joint venture between the Australasian Tour, China PGA and Korea PGA.

Although the Asian Tour has opposed the Tour and encouraged its players against competing, the tournament, previously on the Asian Tour schedule, had a pretty good field with Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie leading the European Tour contingent.

But it was Strange who stole the show at the CBD International Golf Club as he closed with a 68 for a total of eight-under par 280.

Strange finished one stroke ahead of Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, who had a 72 and also second at the recent Estoril Open de Portugal.

Mark Brown, Ashely Hall and Richard Finch were tied for third on 282 with David Dixon and Stephen Dodd sharing sixth.

Monty finished in a tie for 25th place, nine strokes off the pace.

OneAsia plan to have a handful of tournaments this season and expand their schedule next year. They got off to a good start with an event co-sanctioned by the European Tour and worth $2.2 million.

Strange’s victory enables him to qualify for September’s Volvo Match Play Championship in Spain.

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