Saturday, December 16, 2017
Sports

Watney flirts with 59 in win

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Nick Watney took a few peeks at the leaderboard and heard the echo of raucous cheering at regular intervals in the distance as Tiger Woods was commencing his last-round charge. Watney, starting two groups behind, knew it was going to take a special round Sunday to win the CIMB Classic.

Hole by hole, birdie after birdie, the 31-year-old American could feel momentum gathering pace. At the 13th, when he moved into a tie for first, he started to believe he could win. After the 14th, 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 birdie for 59 but decided he was playing only for the win. He bogeyed 18, still enough for a course-record 10-under 61 and 22-under 262 to hold off defending champion Bo Van Pelt and Robert Garrigus by one 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 started four shots back and in seventh place. "But the round sort of built momentum, and things just kept getting better and better."

After five birdies on the first seven holes, Woods finished with 63 to tie for fourth at 19 under with Chris Kirk and Zimbabwe's Brendon de Jonge.

And by the time Woods finished — the 14-time major winner opened with three birdies and had eight in all, including at the 16th and 17th to put pressure on the leaders — all the attention was on Watney.

"I really wanted to finish strong … but winning the tournament was more important than a 59 for me," Watney said.

"I needed to get to 20-plus," Woods said. "That was the goal score. … Looks like Nick went ahead and put it to us."

LPGA: Suzann Pettersen won the Taiwan Championship, her second straight tour victory, rallying to beat Inbee Park by three in Yang Mei. Pettersen closed with 3-under 69, finishing at 19-under 269 for her 10th tour title. Last week in South Korea she beat Catriona Matthew in a playoff. Tampa's Cindy LaCrosse (80) finished at 10-over 298, and Tampa resident Kristy McPherson (82) was at 12-over 300.

Champions: David Frost won the AT&T Championship, beating Bernhard Langer with a birdie on the second playoff hole after overcoming a six-stroke deficit in the final round at San Antonio, Texas. Frost and Langer each shot 6-under 66 to finish 8-under 208.

Europe: Sweden's Peter Hanson won the BMW Masters, his second tour victory of the year, shooting 5-under 67 to hold off Ryder Cup teammate Rory McIlroy by a stroke in Shanghai, China. Hanson finished at 21-under 267 and earned $1,166,600 in the tour's richest regular event. "It's fantastic to win … and to go head-to-head with the world No. 1 is always nice, but to come out on top, it feels great," he said. McIlroy, last year's winner when the event was a nonsanctioned exhibition, shot 67.

Cashing in: Woods is expected to get a $2 million appearance fee and McIlroy $1 million for their one-day exhibition today in Zhengzhou, China. McIlroy and Woods will play their first head-to-head match in an event without other competitors at Lake Jinsha International Golf Club. "We're going to try and put on a good show, shoot a low round and have a little bit of fun," said Woods. Said McIlroy: "I do treat these … as a bit of fun, and it will be good to get a little bit of bragging rights."

Comments

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