Nick Watney took a few peeks at the leader board, and heard the raucous cheering in the distance as Tiger Woods was commencing a last-round charge.
Watney, starting two groups behind Woods, knew it was going to take a special kind of round Sunday to win the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Hole-by-hole, birdie after birdie, he could feel the momentum gathering pace. At the 13th hole, when he moved into a tie for first, he started to believe he could win the tournament. After the 14th hole, he started honing in on a rare round of 59.
With 11 birdies in 17 holes, including six on the back nine, he went to the par-4 18th needing a birdie for a 59, but decided he was playing only for the win. He made a bogey at the last, still good enough for a 10-under 61 and a 22-under total 262 to hold off defending champion Bo Van Pelt (66) and Robert Garrigus (66) by a shot to claim the $1.3 million first prize.
“I saw Tiger got off to a good start, so I wasn’t really thinking about winning when I teed off,” said Watney, who began the day four shots off the pace. “But the round sort of built momentum and things just kept getting better and better.”
Woods finished with a 63 to tie for fourth at 19 under with Chris Kirk and Brendon de Jonge.
“I needed to get to 20-plus,” said Woods, who signaled his intentions with a massive drive on the 358-yard first hole. “That was the goal score at the end of the day. Looks like Nick went ahead and put it to us.”
By the time Woods finished — he opened with three birdies and had eight in all — all the attention was on Watney.
“I really wanted to finish strong … but winning the tournament was more important than a 59 for me,” said Watney, who drove into the left rough, failed to reach the green with his approach and left his long birdie pitch just short of the putting surface.
Watney needed his wife, Amber, to carry his bag for the last hole of the first round when caddie Chad Reynolds needed treatment for heatstroke Thursday. Watney used a local caddie Friday and Reynolds came back for the weekend.
“My wife carried the last hole (Thursday), so she can say that we won the tournament when she caddied,” Watney said.
European Tour: Peter Hanson won the BMW Masters for his second tour title of the year, shooting a 5-under 67 to hold off Ryder Cup teammate Rory McIlroy by a stroke.
Hanson finished at 21-under 267 at Lake Malaren in Shanghai and won $1,166,600 in the tour’s richest regular event.
McIlroy (67), who began the round a shot behind Hanson, fell four strokes behind after five holes.
- Woods is expected to get a $2 million appearance fee and McIlroy $1 million for their exhibition match Monday in Zhengzhou, China. The 18-hole match is dubbed the “Duel at Lake Jinsha.”
- LPGA Tour: Suzann Pettersen won the Taiwan Championship in Yang Mei for her second straight tour victory, rallying to beat Inbee Park by three shots.
- Pettersen closed with a 3-under 69 in wind and drizzle at the Sunrise course. She finished at 19-under 269 and won $300,000 for her 10th tour title.
- Park shot a 74. She won two weeks ago in Malaysia.
- Rory McIlroy Solidifies Place at Top of Golf World – Bleacher Report
- Golf roundup: Nick Watney shoots 61 to win in Malaysia – Savannah Morning News
- Golf roundup: Hahn, Hicks tied for lead at Web.com finale in McKinney – Fort Worth Star Telegram
- Golf-McIlroy pumped up for China shootout with ‘hero’ Woods – Chicago Tribune