Watney stops Tiger to win in Malaysia

Watney stops Tiger to win in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR - Agence France-Presse
Watney stops Tiger to win in Malaysia

American golfer Nick Watney had a surprising victory over superstar Tiger Woods and defending champion Bo Van Pelt in the CIMB Classic in Malaysia. EPA photo

Nick Watney shot an electrifying 61 to win Malaysia’s $6.1 million CIMB Classic and hold off charges by Tiger Woods and defending champion 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.

His 10-under-par round was enough for a one-shot win, while Van Pelt botched a chance to force a play-off on the 18th -- the same hole where he also missed a 59 on Oct. 27. Robert Garrigus birdied the last two holes to share second with Van Pelt, while Woods, the 14-time Major champion who had threatened to steal the show, finished tied fourth with Brendon de Jonge and Chris Kirk.

Watney’s sixth win
Woods, starting the day five shots off the lead, had roared into contention with six birdies in his first 10 holes. But Watney, turning at five under, added another six birdies up the back nine and despite his bogey on 18, finished with 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 scrambling to save par. Woods, who now heads to China for Monday’s one-round exhibition event with world number one Rory McIlroy, was left to rue a stumbling back nine on Saturday which cost him the chance of victory. “I’m very pleased with the way I played. I hit the ball well and hit a bunch of putts today too. So overall it was a good day,” said Woods.

“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.”

More aggressive
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.

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 (Chris) Kirk and (Bo) Van Pelt.

But echoing his round on Oct. 27, 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.

Watney seized the lead with another birdie on 13 and put himself in the driving seat with three in a row from 15 to 17.

Behind him Van Pelt, playing in the final pair, birdied 15 and 17 to be just one shot behind going into the final hole, setting up a nerve-shredding finish. But a day after his bid for a 59 had faltered on the 18th, Van Pelt sliced his tee shot onto the 10th fairway and then shot into a greenside bunker before getting up and down for par.