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American Nick Watney fired a scintillating 10-under-par 61 to win the US$6.1 million CIMB Classic by one shot from title holder Bo Van Pelt and Robert Garrigus on Sunday.
In a thrilling final round shootout, 14-time Major champion Tiger Woods was on the prowl at the Mines Resort and Golf Club, shooting a brilliant 63 which proved a little too late as he settled for tied fourth place, three back, in the co-sanctioned Asian Tour and PGA Tour tournament.
South African Jbe Kruger emerged as the leading Asian Tour performer in eighth position after a 68 while India's Gaganjeet Bhullar took a share of 10th place after signing for a 67. Thai star Thaworn Wiratchant, currently leading the Asian Tour Order of Merit, fired a 66 for tied 16th spot.
Watney's triumph, courtesy of a 22-under-par 262 aggregate, was his second of the season and the world number 22 did it in style to pick up the winner's cheque of US$1.3 million.
"The round sort of built momentum and things just kept getting better and better. I'm thrilled to have come away with a win," said Watney, who has five previous triumphs on the PGA Tour.
Starting the final day four back, the 31-year-old charged out with an outward 30 and then ran off six more birdies on his homeward stretch to give himself a chance of shooting golf's magical 59 playing the last hole.
However, the tall American bogeyed the 18th which gave last year's champion Van Pelt a chance to force a play-off. However, Van Pelt could only make par in front of 13,500 spectators.
Watney said the thought of shooting the first ever 59 in Asia crossed his mind when he sank his 11th birdie of the day on the 17th hole. However, his approach shot from a divot ended any hopes as he dropped a bogey.
"Well, you know, I was more concerned with just winning the tournament. I hit a decent drive, and it plugged in the left rough, and I took a drop. And the ball went into a divot in the rough. So 59 kind of went out the window right there. Winning the tournament was more important than 59 for me," he said.
"I really enjoyed beating Tiger. Any time that you can play in this era, I think everybody would agree these last 15 years, he is been by far the biggest attraction in our sport, so I think it's great for every tournament that he comes to."
Van Pelt, who arrived for his CIMB Classic defence in top form after winning the Perth International last week, saluted Watney's final round heroics. "You've got to tip your cap; a guy goes out and shoots 10 under, he just wins the golf tournament. Big congratulations to Nick. He's a great player, and he just went out and won the tournament," said Van Pelt.
"I'll probably look back at the two doubles I made during the week without a penalty shot that probably ended up costing me in the end. But all in all, it was a great week."
Woods had the large galleries following his match in raptures with five birdies in his opening seven holes before managing only one birdie in mid-round. Two birdies on 16 and 17 eventually left him a few shots shy of his target of getting to 20-under.
"My goal was to get to 20-plus," said the world number two. "That's the only chance I had. It ended up not being much of a chance. Yesterday's last nine holes (where he shot 39), that put me in a spot where I really couldn't win the championship."
Kruger was delighted with his finish which saw him pick up a cheque worth US$175,000. Starting the day two back, he started strongly with a birdie and eagle on the second and third holes before his putter went cold.
"I think I actually played the best I played all week, just couldn't get a putt in. They always say the guy that makes the most putts is going to win. I think I had probably 34, 35 putts," said Kruger, who won the Avantha Masters in India earlier this year.
"It's never the winnings, it's always about the experience. You can't buy experience."
Scores after round 4:
262 - Nick WATNEY (USA) 71-65-65-61.
263 - Robert GARRIGUS (USA) 64-64-69-66, Bo VAN PELT (USA) 70-65-62-66.
265 - Tiger WOODS (USA) 66-67-69-63, Brendon de JONGE (ZIM) 68-65-66-66, Chris KIRK (USA) 69-66-63-67.
266 - Carl PETTERSSON (SWE) 69-67-68-62.
267 - Jbe' KRUGER (RSA) 66-64-69-68.
268 - Pat PEREZ (USA) 67-68-68-65.
269 - Scott PIERCY (USA) 75-68-64-62, Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND) 65-72-65-67, Kevin NA (USA) 67-66-69-67, Brian HARMAN (USA) 64-70-66-69.
270 - NOH Seung-Yul (KOR) 71-66-67-66, Ben CRANE (USA) 68-66-68-68.
271 - Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA) 72-65-68-66, John SENDEN (AUS) 72-66-66-67, Jason DUFNER (USA) 68-72-64-67, Bill HAAS (USA) 70-65-68-68, Jeff OVERTON (USA) 64-70-68-69, Greg CHALMERS (AUS) 66-66-69-70.
272 - J.B. HOLMES (USA) 66-70-68-68, Ricky BARNES (USA) 66-71-66-69.
273 - Charlie WI (KOR) 69-66-71-67, Marcus FRASER (AUS) 70-70-65-68.
274 - Masanori KOBAYASHI (JPN) 69-71-66-68, John HUH (USA) 70-68-68-68, Anirban LAHIRI (IND) 71-66-68-69, Martin LAIRD (SCO) 68-67-69-70, Tom GILLIS (USA) 65-70-66-73.
Photograph Courtesy: AsianTour
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