LA QUINTA Brian Gay found the extra distance he was seeking without sacrificing control.
That was clear late Sunday afternoon in the Humana Challenge when Gay sent a 300-yard drive down the center of the fairway to set up a birdie on the first playoff hole.
A few minutes later, he split the fairway with a 297-yarder and made another birdie to hold off Charles Howell III for his fourth PGA Tour title.
"I'm still in a little bit of shock," Gay said. "It kind of happened so fast there at the end the way things went down. Last year was a struggle. It was a long year, a lot of work. I just wanted to come out this year kind of refocused, recharged and believing in myself."
Gay won on the par-4 10th, putting his 9-iron second shot 51/2 feet below the hole. Howell drove into the right rough, hit into the back bunker, blasted out to 15 feet and two-putted for a bogey.
The 41-year-old Gay, hardly imposing at 5-foot-10 and 165 pounds, worked hard last year with Grant Waite and Joe Mayo to increase his driving distance.
"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."
Gay closed with a 9-under 63 on PGA West's Arnold Palmer Private Course to match Howell (64) and Swedish rookie David Lingmerth (62) at 25-under 263.
Lingmerth dropped out with a bogey on the first extra hole, the par-5 18th, after hitting his approach into the left-side water.
Scott Stallings, five strokes ahead entering the round, bogeyed the final hole for a 70 to miss the playoff by one shot. Gay began the round six strokes behind Stallings.
European Tour in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates Jamie Donaldson won the Abu Dhabi Championship by one shot after Justin Rose narrowly missed a birdie putt on the 18th hole that would have forced a playoff.
Rose's eight-foot putt rimmed out of the hole, giving the Welshman his second European Tour victory. Donaldson shot a 4-under 68 to finish at 14-under 274.
Rose (71), who led by two shots entering the final round, tied for second with Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen (69). Olesen also failed to force a playoff on the 18th when his 15-foot birdie putt rolled past the hole.
Champions Tour in Kaupulehu-Kona, Hawaii John Cook caught David Frost on the final hole of regulation with a 25-foot birdie putt, then beat him with a birdie on the second playoff hole to win the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship.
Cook closed with a 5-under-67 to tie Frost (69) at 17-under 199.