After a pair of weekend 66s, Phil Mickelson is building confidence. (Dunn/Getty Images)
By Fred Albers, PGA TOUR.COM Correspondent
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- The par-5 closing hole always seems to provide drama and it certainly did on Sunday. With a chance to win the tournament, both Charles Howell III and Brian Gay missed eagle opportunities and then could not make their birdie putts. Scott Stallings yanked a 6-iron into the water to make bogey and miss the playoff. The 18th is a wonderful “risk-reward” hole that can expose a player’s nerve.
Warm up: Scott Stallings has an unusual warm-up routine on the driving range. He never hits the same club twice in a row. Most players will start with the wedge, work their way up to the driver and then finish the warm-up with a few more wedges. Stallings works through his bag as if he’s playing an actual round of golf, hitting at specific targets with specific trajectories. Ben Hogan use to work his way through the bag, hitting clubs in the same order he would during the upcoming round.
Hockey: David Lingmerth showed his Swedish heritage with a little hockey. Before the playoff began, Lingmerth turned an iron upside down and used it like a hockey stick, flipping left-handed wrist shots at his caddie with remarkable accuracy.
Short game: Harvey Penick, the great teacher from Austin, warned students to never believe an opponent with a good short game was lucky to win. There is never anything lucky about a good short game. Penick might have been talking about Brian Gay. Gay was 176th on TOUR in driving distance last season but he was also 6th in strokes gained-putting, second in scrambling and fifth in sand saves. He used that short game to make nine birdies in the first 13 holes to take the lead.
Streaky: Scott Stallings played 60 holes without making a bogey and his first hiccup came on a 23-inch putt. Stallings hit a 188-yard 8-iron into the seventh green and missed his 16-foot birdie putt. He then missed the par putt from inside of two feet for his first bogey of the week. Lee Trevino is the last PGA TOUR player to go bogey-free for an entire tournament and win. The Merry Mex was mistake-free in 1974.
Grip: David Lingmerth has a strong grip and usually flights the ball low with a right-to-left ball flight. All that worked against him in the playoff. A seemingly perfect drive, actually resulted in a sidehill-uphill lie which promotes a hook. The combination of a strong grip and uphill lie led to a big hook and his ball splashed into the water left of 18, essentially ending his chances to win.
All-American: Americans simply dominated at Humana. Of the top 22 players, 21 of them were Americans. David Lingmerth was the only non-American to finish inside the Top 20. Granted, there was a limited presence to begin with as only 39 foreign-born players entered the tournament. That said, Americans still dominated this week.
Contrast: The PGA TOUR is filled with different swings and there were two great examples on Sunday. Brian Gay has very little wrist cock and does not generate much clubhead speed, resulting in limited distance. Scott Stallings sets the club and holds that angle through impact creating lots of lag and consequently clubhead speed. Gay’s average ball speed in 2012 was 156.79. Stallings was 179.63.
Most improved: Phil Mickelson must be full of confidence headed to his hometown of San Diego for The Farmers Insurance Open. He started slowly with a 72 on Thursday then rallied for rounds of 67-66-66. Mickelson made one bogey on the weekend.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- We now have a four-way tie at the top of the leaderboard after Scott Stallings' bogey at the par-4 16th hole.
Stallings, who started the final round with a five-stroke lead, is deadlocked with David Lingmerth and Brian Gay, who have finished their rounds, and Charles Howell III who is about to tee off on the par-5 18th hole.
Gay, who was on the fringe of the 18th green in two, eventually missed an 8-footer that would have given him sole possession of the lead. He shot 63. Lingmerth birdied the 18th to shoot 62 and get to 25 under.
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Scott Stallings regained sole possession of the lead when he two-putted from the fringe for birdie at the par-5 11th hole.
The birdie was Stallings' second straight and moved him to 26 under. Brian Gay, who is playing three groups ahead of Stallings, has made nine birdies in his first 15 holes and trails by one.
Rookie David Lingmerth, who tied for 31st last week in his PGA TOUR debut, is also 9 under for the day with two holes remaining. He's 24 under while his playing partner Nicolas Thompson and Charles Howell III are tied, another stroke in arrears.
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Don't look now but Brian Gay has joined Scott Stallings at the top of the leaderboard at the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation.
Gay rolled in a 3-footer for birdie at the par-5 11th hole to move to 24 under. The birdie was his fifth in the last six holes and eighth of the day.
Stallings, on the other hand, has just made the turn at 2 under.
Kevin Chappell's bid for a 59 ended after he was unable to hole his shot from the fairway at the ninth hole. He ended up three-putting from 39 feet for bogey and tossed the ball into the lake.
Even so, the round of 62 eclipsed Chappell's previous career-best on TOUR by three strokes.
Rookie David Lingmerth and Nicholas Thompson, who are playing together, are both 7 under through 12 holes and 22 under for the tournament. They are tied with Charles Howell III, who is 5 under through 11 holes.
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Scott Stallings' bid to become the first player to play an entire tournament bogey-free since Lee Trevino in 1974 has ended.
Stallings three-putted the seventh hole from 16 feet, missing from 23 inches for par. The bogey brought Stallings back to 24 under and his lead is now two strokes.
Kevin Chappell and Brian Gay are Stallings' nearest challengers. Chappell is 10 under for the day with two holes remaining while Gay just made the turn in 30 .
James Hahn, who shared the lead after the first and second rounds is tied at 21 under with another rookie, David Lingmerth, and Charles Howell III.
Trevino did not make a bogey in winning the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in 1974.
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Yes, Scott Stallings has the upper hand. But make no mistake, there are birdies to be had at the Palmer Private Course on Sunday.
You have to look no farther than Kevin Chappell, who started on the back nine. He has surged into a tie for second at the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation after playing his first 12 holes in 8 under.
Chappell, who is from Fresno, made six birdies on the back nine and added another pair on Nos. 1 and 2. He's 20 under and tied with David Lingmerth, who is 5 under through seven holes on the front, and Brian Gay, who is 4 under through six.
Stallings, though, has made three straight birdies starting at the second hole. So his lead remains five strokes.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- The Coachella Valley is bathed in sunshine Sunday morning as the leaders of the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation get set for the final round on the Palmer Private Course.
Scott Stallings owns a five-stroke advantage over Roberto Castro, Stewart Cink, Charles Howell III, John Rollins and Charley Hoffman. Stallings, who did not make a bogey in his first 54 holes, is looking for his third PGA TOUR win in 58 starts.
Four of the five players tied for second are trying to end lengthy victory droughts while Castro is seeking his first win. Howell's last victory came in 2007, Cink and Rollins last won in 2009 and Hoffman is seeking his first since the 2010 FedExCup Playoffs.
The deficit is admittedly daunting. But over the first three rounds, the Palmer Course averaged nearly two-and-a-half strokes under par and the course gave up a 59 to David Duval when he won the tournament in 1999. Stallings and Cink both shot 66s the first time they played the Palmer this week while Howell and Castro had 67s and Rollins shot 70.
Cink, who lives in Atlanta, used today's NFL playoff game between the Falcons and San Francisco 49ers to size up Sunday's competition.
"The Falcons are about a four-and-a-half point underdog, and does that translate into a five-shot deficit?" he said. "I'm probably a 14-point underdog tomorrow with a five-shot deficit. So I think I have a bigger challenge than they do.
"They have Matt Ryan. I don't have another person to be my quarterback tomorrow. I have to be my own quarterback and receiver."
Should the 27-year-old Stallings go on to win, he would become the third player in his 20s to win in the first three TOUR events of 2013. The last time that happened was in 1977 (Jerry Pate/Phoenix Open, Bruce Lietzke/Tucson Open and Tom Watson/Bing Crosby National Pro-Am). Tom Watson also won the fourth week on TOUR in 1977 at the Andy Williams-San Diego Open Invitational.
Stallings would also become the sixth player under the age of 30 with three of more TOUR wins, joining Dustin Johnson (7), Rory McIlroy (6), Anthony Kim (3), Webb Simpson (3) and Keegan Bradley (3). He'd also get a second straight trip to the Masters.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Scott Stallings threatened to run away with the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation on Saturday.
Stallings, who has yet to drop a shot to par in 54 holes this week, made two eagles and five birdies on the way to a 63 on the Nicklaus Course that enabled him to open up a five-shot lead. Stallings will start the final 18 holes on the Palmer Course at 22 under as he seeks his third PGA TOUR win in as many years.
"I've been aggressive," Stallings said. "I've been smart when I got out of position. Just because I played really good, doesn't mean that I've hit it perfect on every single hole. I scrambled a little bit, but when I got out of position off the tee, I played smart. I hit it in the middle of the green and just kind of accepted par and moved on and was really aggressive when I had the opportunity.
"The same thing goes tomorrow. Obviously, a lot can happen coming down the back nine, especially with all the birdie holes coming in, but it is what it is, and go out there and try to be aggressive early and go from there."
His nearest competitors include Roberto Castro, who held a share of the first- and second-round leads; former British Open champion Stewart Cink, Charles Howell III, John Rollins and Charley Hoffman. Rollins had the lowest round of the group at 17 under with a 64 at the Nicklaus Course.
Obviously, the five-stroke advantage will be difficult to overcome on PGA West's Palmer Private Course. Not that it can't be done, though.
"It's probably harder on the PGA, on this in this format, just because you just don't have quite the opportunity for the leader to come back to you," Cink said. "You're going to have to take over the lead. And a poor round tomorrow, assuming the weather is like this, is still going to be like around 1 or 2 under par. And that's a poor round.
"So you're going to have to go out there and really be aggressive and play well and really make some putts and stay aggressive."
Brian Stuard, who had visions of a 59 when he moved to 11 under through 16 holes at the Nicklaus Course, heads a group of seven players at 16 hunder. Stuard, who bogeyed the 18th and shot 62, is among nine players tied at 16 under.
"I kind of thought (about 59) after I hit my tee shot on 17," admitted Stuard, who was outside the cut line at the start of the day. "I had a chance there and just kind of left it on the top edge, but, no, after that, not really."
Also at 16 under is Sang-moon Bae, who shot 8 under at the Nicklaus; Kevin Streelman, Kevin Stadler, Brian Gay, Ryan Palmer, Billy Horschel and Lee Williams.
Phil Mickelson played his way to Sunday with a round of 66 on the Palmer Course that included birdies on the 16th and 17th holes and a water-logged par at the 18th. He finished at 11 under, which is two shots clear of the cut, which came at 10 under.
Among the players who won't play Sunday are former major champions Trevor Immelman, Davis Love III, Webb Simpson and Mike Weir. A total of 81 players made the cut.
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Scott Stallings has rolled in three straight birdies to replace Roberto Castro at the top of the leaderboard at the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foiundation.
Meanwhile. Brian Stuard, playing on the opposite nine at the Nicklaus course, is making a bid for the magical 59. He just eagled the 16th hole and is 11 under for the day with a par 3 and par 4 remaining. He's currently tied for second with Castro and Greg Chalmers at 17 under.
Stuard has made eight birdies, two eagles and one bogey.
Stallings, who has played 14 holes on the Nicklaus, is 7 under for the day and 20 under for the tournament. Stalllings, who is bidding for his third TOUR win in as many years, has yet to make a bogey this week.
Castro just finished off a 69 at La Quinta, while Chalmers is through 13 on the same course.
Second-year TOUR pro Sang-moon Bae, Kevin Streelman, Stewart Cink, Ricky Barnes and John Rollins are tied at 16 under. Streelman just completed a round of 66 at La Quinta while Bae shot 64 at at the Nicklaus Course and Rollins is 7 under through 15 holes there.
The cut line just went to 10 under after Phil Mickelson made a two-putt birdie at the 11th hole to get to 9 under. There are 73 players currently inside the cut line.
To preview the 2013 PGA TOUR season, PGATOUR.COM is counting down the Top 100 Players to Watch in 2013. For an archive page with the top 100 players and for an explanation on how the list was compiled, click here .
2013 PREVIEW: Two years on the PGA TOUR and two wins -- not too shabby for Scott Stallings, who missed a month last season with a rib injury. Healthy in 2013 -- can the perpetually-smiling Tennessee Tech grad keep up the pace?
2012 DEFINING MOMENT: All three of Stallings' top-10 finishes came in his final nine starts of 2012 as that victory at the True South Classic seemed to turn the season around. His four-day today of 24 under that included consecutive 64s was a tournament record and gave him his second straight shot at the FedExCup Playoffs, moving him from No. 163 to 95th. –- Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ALBERS’ QUICK TAKE: Scott is 27 years old and has already won a pair of PGA TOUR events, including this year's True South Classic. He is a long hitter who can be inconsistent on the greens but seems to find a way to score. -- Fred Albers, SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio
BOLTON’S FANTASY OUTLOOK: Salvaged what was shaping up as an injury-induced sophomore slump (ribs) with a victory at the True South Classic. It was the first of six top 25s in nine starts to close out his season. It would be unfair to circle negative splits due to him grinding through his malady for half a year, but he obliterates par 5s and has ranked inside the top third on TOUR in greens in regulation since joining the circuit in 2011. Even though he's already a two-time winner, there are gamers that will undervalue his weapons. Don't be one of them. -- Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy expert
2012 QUICK REVIEW
Regular Season ranking
Final Playoffs ranking
|Best finish||1st||True South Classic|
|By the Numbers
Cuts made: 12
Rounds played: 78
Top-10 finishes: 3
Money List rank: 66th
Driving distance: 17th
Driving accuracy: 140th
Greens in regulation: 59th
Strokes gained-putting: 171st
Scoring average: 151st
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