For Immediate Release August 8, 2010
Brian Gray overcomes heat, wind, competition to win 2010 Western Golf Alliance Open
Late birdies provide a winning margin in a tight battle for the title
LAS VEGAS. After overcoming a variety of natural elements over the first three rounds, Brian Gray also held off the late charge of other competitors to claim victory in the 2010 Western Golf Alliance Open. Playing the best golf of the tournament over the final nine holes, Gray went NET 3-under over the final seven holes to keep himself clear of the field.
"The heat was mounting down the stretch, both literally here in Las Vegas, and figuratively from the competition, and I could sense that pressure," said Gray. "I really didn't even want to see the leaderboard over the final three holes, but hoped that if I just focused on my own game, the results would take care of themselves."
As it turned out, Gray needed an outstanding back nine to bring home the championship. Though Gray started the day with a seven stroke lead and played the front nine in NET even par, after the 11th hole he and Trever Esko were tied for the tournament lead at NET 1-under. However, down the stretch Gray made the shots and put too much pressure on the rest of the field for them to maintain the pace.
Gray became the first three-time winner of the Western Golf Alliance Open. "I just cannot express the excitement of being able to once again etch my name on the honored list associated with the Coveted Pewter Mug," concluded Gray.
Throughout the tournament the competition was tight. Esko shot an opening round NET 7-under at the Lexington Course at Revere to claim the early lead - the third time in a row he has lead the WGA Open after the opening round. Gray put his mark on the tournament when he seized the lead at Wolf Creek during the second round, while others faltered in the withering heat and conditions. However, the greatest challenge was on 'moving day' at the Wolf Course at the Paiute Resort, where gale force winds turned things upside down, with Esko, Steven Douglas Smith, and Peter McGarry all closing the gap on Gray. Unfortunately for all of them, none were able to repeat that feat on Sunday.
"I do feel like I let an opportunity slip through my fingers," admitted Esko, the eventually runner-up. "I posted a good early score, and clearly made the final round charge to put the tournament within reach. However, down the stretch I just couldn't find those one or two shots I needed, and when I needed to fire at a couple pins to keep pace, I just couldn't pull it off. This is a pill that will taste bitter in my mouth for a long time," Esko lamented.
The only controversy of this year's Open came in the final round, when it was disclosed that one unnamed player was using wedges with non-conforming grooves and was disqualified from the competition. Similar to the issue with LPGA Futures Tour rookie Sarah Brown, the player complained that the disqualification would impact his earning potential for next season. Eventually, he agreed to drop his complaint, and the WGA Competition Committee agreed not to print his name or that he was a "cheating hack."
Final Standings - Top 3:
DQ - C. Barkley - The "Cheating Hack"
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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/.