CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. (AP) -- When Brian Gay's 30-foot putt on the 17th hole hung on the lip of cup for 15 seconds and then dropped in the hole, it looked like things were falling his way.
Then came a bogey on No. 18, followed by a 1-stroke penalty assessed after his round. As a result, Gay couldn't match a strong finish by Dudley Hart, who birdied the final four holes Sunday to overcome a 3-shot deficit and win the Honda Classic.
Hart had completed his round and was anticipating a possible playoff when he learned that Gay's putt on No. 17 was being reviewed by PGA Tour rules official Slugger White.
Gay, bidding for his first tour title, appeared to tie Hart for the lead when his 30-footer from the fringe sat on the lip, then fell into the cup. But after the round ended, White assessed Gay a 1-stroke penalty because of the delay before the putt fell in.
Because Gay bogeyed No. 18, he lost by two strokes, so the penalty didn't keep him from reaching a playoff. But it still stirred controversy.
The penalty resulted from rule 16-2, which states that when the ball overhangs the lip, it is considered at rest 10 seconds after the player reaches the hole. If the ball falls in after that, the player is assessed a 1-stroke penalty.
White viewed television replays with Gay and determined that the ball fell into the cup at least 13 seconds after Gay walked up to the hole.
''I looked at the tape 10 times, and he and I looked at the tape another five or six times,'' White said. ''We rolled it, we backed it up, we did everything.''
Gay was unhappy that the rule was interpreted literally. He noted that he could have avoided a penalty by walking more slowly to the hole, thus giving the ball more time to fall in before the 10-second rule took effect.
''It's a gray area when you split hairs on a couple of seconds,'' Gay said. ''If you ran to the hole when you hit your putt out of excitement, you're hurting yourself, because once you're there, the clock starts. So in actuality you should probably dilly-dally around and try to beat the rule.''
Because the penalty dropped Gay from second place to fourth, it cost him $88,933 -- more than he made all of last year.
Hart, who lives 20 minutes from the Heron Bay course, pleased the gallery by playing the final 10 holes in 6-under-par. He shot 65 to finish at 19-under 269.
''It's gratifying that I played well in front of all my family and friends,'' said Hart, who earned $522,000. ''When you're trying to get tickets for everybody and show them a good time, there can be a lot of distractions. I'm glad I was able to put it all aside.''
Kevin Wentworth and J.P. Hayes tied for second at 18-under. Gay and Jim Furyk were next at 17-under.
With 24 of the world's 30 top-ranked players skipping the tournament, unfamiliar names dominated the leader board. The contenders played well down the stretch, and Hart played the best.
A strong wind that blew for most of the tournament died down as the leaders reached the final few holes, and Hart took advantage. Playing in the next-to-last threesome, he made a 20-foot putt at No. 17 to tie Gay and Wentworth for the lead, then sank a 3-footer at No. 18.
The only other PGA Tour victory for Hart, 31, came in the 1996 Canadian Open. He said the win was especially gratifying because his father is recovering from recent surgery.
''Dad, I'm keeping this trophy,'' he said with a grin. ''You got the first one.''
Divots: Davis Love III, the top-ranked player in the field, tied the course record with an 8-under 64 and finished 12-under. ... Mike Hulbert finished 12-under to earn his first check this year. He had missed the cut in all six previous tournaments. ... Casey Martin, who rode a cart after winning an appellate court ruling last week, couldn't capitalize on an opening 66. He shot 75 Sunday and finished 5-under. ... For the first time since the 1999 Hawaiian Open, the entire field was under par. Ryan Howison finished 76th and last at 1-under. ... Two-time Honda champ Mark Calcavecchia shot 67 and finished 15-under. Defending champion Vijay Singh shot 72 and finished 8-under.
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