A few weeks ago, on championship Sunday of the PGA at Kiawah Island, a lone golfer started the day. According to the final schedule listed by ESPN, B. Gay teed off around 7:30 AM—paired with no one.
I feel certain that few — if any—photographers, press, and fans showed up for Gay’s round.
Wannamaker Trophy contenders Michelson, Koepka, Oosthuizen, and company didn’t hit the first tee until after 2 PM.
Due to Friday’s cut, injuries, and reasons unknown, the final field equaled an uneven number of players. On days one and two, golfers attacked the course in groups of three. After the cut, they competed in their customary groups of two. Tee times on Saturday and Sunday were scheduled according to score — from highest to lowest.
Keep in mind, golfers pursue low scores, not high. In school a plus-sign is good. A minus sign? Not so much. In golf, a plus sign beside a number is bad; a minus sign is good. Confusing, I know. Golf is designed to keep one guessing.
By the closing two days of a golf tournament, fans follow players who appear at the bottom of the tee schedule and pretty much skip past the names of those at the top. In other words, the first players on the tee last Sunday morning were those at the end of the leaderboard. B. Gay had the distinction of being at the very bottom, dead last.
Why the PGA didn’t have Rasmus Hojgaard and Garrick Higgo buddy-up with Gay will forever remain a mystery. Bumping the two back ten minutes — from 7:40 AM to 7:30 AM — seemed more tournament-friendly to me. But then, who am I? A spectator with little knowledge of what goes into the planning for major golf events.
Still, I couldn’t help but feel a little sympathy for B. Gay. Was he humiliated by his lone tee time? Was he sad? Was he lonely? Did it hurt his confidence to finish the tournament like a lone goose that had drifted out of the formation?
Then, my mind started thinking, which happens on occasion. I said to myself, “Self, could B. Gay’s first name be Ben — as in Ben Gay?”
I wanted it to be so. After all, the BENGAY we can purchase at the pharmacy claims to help where it hurts. A guy named Ben Gay might have the wherewithal to assuage his own physical and emotional wounds.
I wish I hadn’t looked it up, but I couldn’t help myself. Disappointment of disappointments, B. Gay is not Ben Gay. He is Brian Gay.
On the upside, Brian Gay is 49 years old and turned pro in 1994. He’s weathered the storms of many PGA events.
Starting the day at 13-over par, he may have been more than ready to finish first, though not first place. It would give him time to head to the clubhouse for an icy brew, a shower, and to find a cozy spot to watch old guy Phil give youngster Koepka a little lesson.
Maybe Gay wasn’t sad or humiliated. Maybe he said to himself, “Self, this is awesome. I’ve got the beautiful Ocean Course to myself — just me and my caddie.”
I doubt Gay whined about his position. He probably even acknowledged that he put himself there. So, Brian Gay, not to be confused with Ben, bravely played on. He started with the highest round and ended there. His final score: 18-over par.
But Gay did not finish last. Oh, no. Many well-known golfers including world number one Dustin Johnson, along with Justin Thomas, Sergio Garcia, and more didn’t score low enough to qualify for Saturday and Sunday’s rounds.
The guy that started first and finished last on championship Sunday made the cut. He played all four rounds on a challenging Ocean Course. B as in Brian Gay is a winner.
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