Nick Watney of the US shot an electrifying 61 to win Malaysia’s US$6.1 million CIMB Classic and hold off charges by Tiger Woods and Bo Van Pelt yesterday.
Watney, 31, became the second player in two days to flirt with a magical 59 at the par-71 Mines Resort and Golf Club, before bogeying the last as the pressure told.
However, his 10-under-par round was enough for a thrilling one-shot win, while Van Pelt botched a chance to force a play-off on the 18th.
Robert Garrigus birdied the last two holes to share second with Van Pelt, while Woods, who had threatened to steal the show, finished tied for fourth with Brendon de Jonge and Chris Kirk.
Woods, starting the day five shots off the lead, had roared into contention with six birdies in his first 10 holes, and he picked up two more shots in his last three holes for a 63.
However, Watney, turning at five under, added another six birdies up the back nine and despite his lone bogey on 18, finished with a 22-under 262 for his sixth victory in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event, and his second of the year.
Van Pelt needed a birdie on the last hole to set up a play-off, but he put his tee shot onto an adjacent fairway and then bunkered his recovery, before saving par.
Woods was left to rue a stumbling back nine on Saturday which cost him the chance of victory.
“I had to shoot nine under today just to have any kind of a chance. Yesterday’s nine holes put me in a spot where I couldn’t win the championship,” he said.
Woods had pledged to be aggressive and he attacked from the off with a massive drive which landed just short of the green on the 363-yard, par-four first hole, then chipped and putted four feet downhill for birdie.
His tee-shot on the par-three second drifted slightly left, but from the fringe Woods caressed a sand wedge down the slope and into the hole for a birdie.
On three, he found himself the wrong side of a greenside bunker but another stunning chip, from a downhill lie, put him three feet from the pin for his third birdie in a row.
With heat haze visible on the sixth green, Woods sent a ruler-straight pitch shot from 90 yards to within three feet to pick up his fourth shot of the day.
At the seventh he putted from the collar, 10 feet down a steeply sloping green, for his fifth birdie, and picked up another on the 10th to go 17-under and two shots back from joint leaders Kirk and Van Pelt.
However, echoing his round on Saturday, the hot streak cooled and Woods had to escape from a bunker on 15 before his next birdie, courtesy of an unerring tee-shot on the par-three 16th. Another birdie on 17 was his last.
Meanwhile Carl Pettersson was in the clubhouse with a nine-under-par 62, and Watney had raced up the leaderboard with seven birdies