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Golf Tidbits: Persistence pays off for Gay

Kevin Currie, Golf Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - For every Tiger Woods or Vijay Singh, there is a Michael Allen or Brian Gay. Some guys win at least once a year every year. Other guys, like Allen, scrap through Q-School to keep their tour cards. Then there are golfers like Gay, who persist and make their mark through sheer volume of play.

From 2001 through 2008, Gay averaged 32 starts per season and nearly 18 cuts made per year. He retained his tour card all but once in that span. After the 2003 season, in which he made his fewest cuts (15) and had his fewest top-25 finishes (four), Gay headed back to the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament to secure his tour card for 2004. Mission accomplished.

Gay slowly started to improve his stats after his return to Q-School as he posted 29 top-25 finishes over the next four years and six top-10 finishes.

After years of middling performances, Gay found his stride in 2008. He collected his first PGA Tour win, his third career second-place finish and earned a career-high $2.2 million. And that was just a start.

Gay picked up his second win of the 2009 season last week at the St. Jude Classic, and now has four top-10 finishes in 15 starts. Last season, he posted his career-best with six top-10s.

What did all of this improvement get Gay? Thanks to the two wins in one season, he earned a spot in this week's U.S. Open, his first return trip to the event since 2004.

That's the good news. The bad - he has missed the cut in all five starts he has made at the U.S. Open, including missing by a single stroke in 2002 at this week's host venue, the Black Course at Bethpage State Park.

"I think I missed the cut by a shot or two," Gay said of the 2002 Open after winning in Memphis last week. "I was actually playing real well going into there that week that year."

Gay will make his 11th start in a major this week and it will be his first major since last year's PGA Championship. The way he is going this season - 14 cuts made in 15 starts - it would be easy to think Gay would achieve yet another personal milestone by making the cut in the U.S. Open

GREEN'S PERSONAL TRAGEDY

Ken Green, now a member of the Champions Tour, is enduring the worst kind of grief. Early last week as he drove home from the Champions Tour event in Austin, Green lost control of his vehicle and crashed.

In the accident, Green's girlfriend and brother were both killed.

"The pain and emptiness of losing my brother, my girlfriend and my dog are enormous," Green said in a statement last week. "They were always supportive and loving and stuck by me during my struggles. Not having them around is a tremendous loss and leaves a void that will never be filled."

Green, who earlier in his career battled mental illness that nearly pushed him to suicide, is not only grieving the loss of those closest to him, he is facing lengthy rehabilitation for his own injuries.

The five-time winner on the PGA Tour had his lower right leg crushed in the accident. A few days later, Green told doctors that he would someday like to return to professional golf. The doctors told him the only way that would happen is with a prosthetic.

Facing the decision of losing his livelihood or his lower leg, Green chose to have the lower part of his leg amputated. There is no telling when Green will be in any physical condition to play golf, but given what he has overcome in the past, there will be many expecting him endure this difficult situation too.

"You can't always choose what happens to you in life; but you can choose how you deal with these setbacks," Green stated. "I'm not giving up."

MINI-TIDBITS

- Sergio Garcia may own 18 worldwide wins, but he is 0-for-39 in the four majors. Only seven more and he will reach Phil Mickelson's 0-for-46 stretch, ended when Lefty won the 2004 Masters.

- The USGA might not admit this on Thursday, but there is a decent chance of a Monday finish for the U.S. Open since play has been washed out for the day Thursday, and there is rain forecasted Saturday and Sunday.

- The U.S. Women's Open will be without two of the LPGA Tour's biggest attractions. Natalie Gulbis and Michelle Wie played together in the sectional qualifier on Monday, yet neither qualified for the season's second major for the women

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Kevin Currie at kcurrie@sportsnetwork.com.

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