U.S. Open Birth Given To Gay After a Thrilling Victory in Memphis

Rory BarnettContributor IJune 14, 2009

MEMPHIS, TN - JUNE 14:  Brian Gay of the United States celebrates winning the St. Jude Classic at TPC Southwind held on June 14, 2009 in Memphis, Tennessee.  (Photo by Michael Cohen/Getty Images)

Brian Gay pulled a rabbit out of his hat on Sunday in Memphis, Tenn. His five stroke victory at the St. Jude Classic, which was his second victory in his last five events, earned him an Open exemption as a multiple winner in the same calendar year. The U.S Open starts next week at Bethpage Black in Long Island, N.Y.

Gay's victory didn't come easy through. He led by a stroke after each of the first three rounds and with PGA Tour veterans David Toms and Bryce Molder were breathing down his neck. However, Gay birdied three of the six first holes to pull away from the field and birdied the 18th en route to a 18—under 262 tournament win.

PGA Tour fan favorite Phil Mickelson closed with a 3—over 75 and finished tied for 59th. This was the first event Mickelson played in since announcing that his wife, Amy, had breast cancer. Mickelson tried to keep his emotions in check throughout the tournament. He averaged 70.25 strokes a round and is looking forward to next week's U.S. Open.

John Daly, who is coming back from a six—month suspension, tied for 59th a 1—over.

David Toms, a two—time winner of the tournament, did everything he could to capture Gay. However,  Gay's putter was clutch down the stretch. He parred his last six holes before rolling in a five footer for birdie on the 18th.

Gay needed only 120 putts to become the fourth wire—to—wire winner in the tournaments' 52—year history and first since Justin Leonard in 2005.