Nick Watney birdied the 18th hole on Sunday to win the Buick Invitational by one stroke, capturing the second USPGA Tour title of his career.
“If you’re going to lead for one hole, this is the time to do it,” Watney said of seizing the victory at the 72nd hole, after starting the day five shots off the lead.
Watney arrived at the par-five 18th on the Torrey Pines South Course and completed a four-under 68 for 11-under 277 with his birdie putt from within three-feet.
Watney set up his winning birdie with a lag putt from 63 feet with his third shot.
Overnight leader Rollins then missed a 12-footer for birdie and tapped in for a par to complete a 74 for a 10-under total of 278.
Rollins had started the day with a three-shot lead over Colombian Camilo Villegas, and still led by three at the turn.
Watney picked up three of his five birdies in his last six holes, including a monster putt at the 16th, where Rollins bogeyed from a greenside bunker.
“I played the US Open here last year and actually three-putted that green on Sunday with a back left pin,” Watney said of his 39-footer at 16. “I had an idea that it breaks a ton right there. I was really just trying to hit good speed. There was pretty good slope about halfway through, and with about eight or 10 feet I saw that it was on a good line. And then I wasn’t sure if it was going to catch the front lip or not, but it did, and I’m very happy about that.”
The two-shot swing proved to be all the momentum Watney needed.
“It looked like it was going to run out of steam just a little bit at the hole, but it sort of wriggled back to the right as it lost speed and fell in the front door,” Rollins said. “It’s just inches from a possible miss, and who knows what that could have changed. But that was a great putt.”
Villegas, also playing in the final group, finished tied for third after a 72 for 279. He was joined by Lucas Glover, who closed with a 68.
Torrey Pines was the site of last year’s epic US Open victory for Tiger Woods, who won a 19-hole playoff over Rocco Mediate despite playing with a torn ligament and stress fractures in his left leg.
Woods then underwent reconstructive surgery on his knee and has yet to return to competition.