For Immediate Release August 13, 2006
Brian Gray overcomes heat, field for 2006 Open title
Charge during 36 hole marathon propels champion to victory
LA QUINTA, California. Pre-tournament favorite Brian Gray leveraged two great rounds to leave the rest of the field in the dust and claim the 2006 Western Golf Alliance Open championship. With a second day charge over 36 holes that left the other competitors high and dry, Gray finished at net 6-under, an astonishing 19 strokes clear of the field.
"I knew the heat would make this weekend a challenge for everyone, and the key would be to minimize damage and try to post at least one strong round," said Gray. "To win the title under these conditions, and with this performance, is truly my greatest win in the WGA."
On the first and third days of the competition, Gray shot a combined net 5-over par. However, during the pivotal second day with everyone playing 36 holes in temperatures that exceeded 110 degrees, Gray shot a combined net 11-under.
Meanwhile, other competitors fell away or could never quite do enough to post their own charge up the leaderboard. Earlier leader Trever Esko, who was the only competitor under par through two rounds, withered in the afternoon heat on the second day, eventually falling out of the top three. Robert Gibson, another tournament favorite, opened the Day 2 marathon with a net 10-over, leaving himself too big of a hill to climb. Peter McGarry and John Peppler both posted rounds under par during Day 2, but could not gain ground on Gray.
"That second day can be summarized in one word, brutal," said Peter McGarry, the defending champion who finished third this year. "That said, it was certainly a fair test for all, and the courses we played were simply superior. This was a great event, and the only disappointment is that no one, including myself, was able to keep pace [with Gray] when he went on his epic run."
That said, the tournament was not without some controversy. Before the first round, a protest was lodged regarding Gray's handicap. The handicap committee announced a two stroke adjustment to Gray's handicap, but chose to suspend its ruling until after the first round was complete. When Gray shot net 5-over off his unadjusted handicap and was in fourth place after that first round, the protest was withdrawn. Ultimately, the margin of victory clearly left any opinion about the handicap issue completely moot.
Final Standings - Top 3:
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About the Western Golf Alliance: The Western Golf Alliance is the premier golf organization in the United States. The WGA exists to further the greatness of this grand sport of golf through the improvement of golf play by its members, the promotion of golf rules, etiquette, and tradition, and the ability to gather together from time to time for golf events and tournaments. The regional organization spans five western states, and is organized into nine geographic regions. Further information is available at http://www.westerngolf.org/.