IRVING, Texas -- On a Sunday where most golfers were playing not to lose, Brian Gay watched and waited as his bogey-free, 7-under day pushed him steadily up the leaderboard to a second-place tie in the HP Byron Nelson Championship.
The Fort Worth native barely made the even-par cut after a 2-over 72 on Thursday and two bogeys in his first nine holes in Friday's second round.
"I'd been struggling for a little bit and hadn't been able to get anything to go in, and I made about a 20-footer Friday on [my final hole] to make the cut," Gay said. "I just really had to hang in there. I was over par the whole first two days, and I rallied at the end and you never know what's going to happen."
He entered the final day at 1 under, tied for 38th, but birdied two of the first three holes and four of his first nine Sunday.
Gay was fortunate to play earlier in the day. The wind was slightly calmer than it was in the late afternoon, when the leaders were playing in gusts up to 30 miles per hour.
But Gay also continued to adjust and improve his game throughout the weekend before his 63 was Sunday's best round by three shots.
"I've been working on a couple things this week, just a little bit with my path," Gay said. "I was close [earlier in the tournament], [they] were just not quite falling. But I made my share today."
The second-place finish was Gay's best since his win in the St. Jude Classic in June 2009. As he left the course Sunday, he didn't expect his 8-under finish to put him in contention for the win.
"I don't think eight will be holding up very well," Gay said.
Verplank impressed by Spieth: Scott Verplank knows a thing or two about being the center of attention as an amateur. Verplank became in the first amateur in 29 years to win a PGA Tour event in 1985 when as a 21-year-old he beat Jim Thorpe in a playoff at the Western Open.
However, Verplank said his accomplishment didn't measure up to the achievement of fellow Dallas native Jordan Spieth, who tied for 16th at the Byron Nelson.
"At 16, I wasn't going off to do what he's doing," said Verplank, who finished tied for fifth at 7-under Sunday and won the Nelson in 2007. "That's pretty impressive that he's in the last five or six groups on a Sunday tour event."
Spieth's ability to handle crowds and pressure impressed the veteran.
"That's what is great about him," Verplank said. "Golf is looking to the next generation of kids that can play, stay out of trouble and entertain everybody ... and Jordan has all the tools to help the game of golf and he's gotten a lot of people out here this week."
Mahan stumbles to finish 50th: Colleyville's Hunter Mahan fell apart over his final five holes to finish tied for 50th.
The first-round co-leader bogeyed 14, 15 and 16 and double-bogeyed 18 to finish 5-over for the day and 4-over for the tournament.
"I tried to get it going early but had two bogeys early, had no momentum pretty much all week after the first day and I just can't wait for Colonial," Mahan said.
Frazar finishes 4-under: Dallas' Harrison Frazar closed with a 2-under 68 to finish at 4 under for the tournament, tied for 16th.
"I played okay," Frazar said. "I've been struggling lately and I saw a lot of positives."
Frazar said he has had problems with all aspects of his game recently.
"You name it [and I've struggled with it]," Frazar said. "But I've been fighting through and starting to manage my game a little bit better, starting to putt better and just kind of hanging in there."
Local ties: Rory Sabbatini shot 3-over in the final round, giving the Fort Worth resident a 1-over finish. ... Fort Worth's J.J. Henry shot 1 over Sunday and finished 1 under, tied for 32nd overall. ... Flower Mound's Paul Stankowski struggled on the final day, shooting a 6-over 76 and to finish 7 over. ... Southlake resident Y.E. Yang eagled No. 7 but ended up 1 over for the day and tied for 32nd. ... Dallas' Jason Schultz recovered from a nightmarish 12-over 82 on Saturday with a 1-under 69 in the final round, which he started alone with a 7:25 a.m. tee time. ... Hurst's Jerod Turner shot 4-under on the back nine Sunday to finish 2-under for the day and 3-over in the tournament.
Briefly: Nelson officials said 257,000 attended the four days of this year's tournament, up from 250,500 last year. ... Nelson officials fished out the ball tournament winner Jason Day hit into the water on the 18th hole and were showing it off in the Media Room Sunday night.
Josh Davis is an ESPNDallas.com intern and a writer for TCU's student newspaper, the Daily Skiff.