April 17 2013
Brian Gay was unstoppable at Harbour Town in 2009 and won by 10 shots. (Lecka/Getty Images)
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy Insider
Not only was Brian Gay's 10-stroke romp at the 2009 RBC Heritage a seminal moment in the history of a proud tournament that began in 1969, but what he accomplished that week has served as a statistical turning point in the recent past.
His performance at Harbour Town that week was of Secretariat proportions. Fans of golf will never get tired of poring over Gay's splits that led to a tournament-record, 20-under 67-66-67-64=264. En route to one eagle and 20 birdies against just two bogeys, he led or co-led his field in proximity to the hole, strokes gained-putting, scrambling, par-4 scoring average and par-5 scoring average. He ranked second in both fairways hit and par-3 scoring average. Gay also finished two greens in regulation from co-leading in that stat as well; instead, he settled for T3. Adding to the perspective to how locked in he was, Luke Donald and Briny Baird recorded the second-highest aggregate (274) of any runners-up of the previous 11 editions.
None of the three champions since have come close to threatening Gay's historic week. Carl Pettersson's 14-under 270 last year is the lowest winning total of the lot. However, Pettersson, Jim Furyk (2010) and Brandt Snedeker (2011) have continued a trend in proficiency in proximity to the hole and par-4 scoring average, each finishing inside the top 10 in both. Pettersson ranked first in each. Furyk led his field in proximity and placed T2 in par-4 scoring; Snedeker ranked ninth in proximity and first in par-4 scoring.
By contrast, in the three years leading up to Gay's benchmark, none of the winners cracked the top 10 in proximity, and only two were inside the top 10 in par-4 scoring average (although neither led his field). Instead, Aaron Baddeley (2006) and Boo Weekley twice (2007, 2008) placed a respective first, T2 and T3 in par-5 scoring average, a category in which Furyk, Snedeker and Pettersson didn't sniff the top 20.