KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Nick Watney missed a chance for a 59 on Sunday in his CIMB Classic victory, closing with a course-record 10-under 61 at The Mines despite a bogey at the 18th.
Needing a birdie on the par-4 18th for a 59, Watney drove into the left rough, failed to reach the green with his approach and left his long birdie pitch just short of the putting surface.
“I really wanted to finish strong ... but winning the tournament was more important than a 59 for me,” Watney said.
The American finished at 22-under 262 and earned $1.3 million in the unofficial PGA Tour event, finishing a stroke ahead of 2011 champion Bo Van Pelt and Robert Garrigus and three ahead of Tiger Woods. The tournament will become a full-fledged PGA Tour event next year when the tour begins its new season in October after the FedEx Cup.
“I saw Tiger got off to a good start, so I wasn't really thinking about winning when I teed off,” he said. “But the round sort of built momentum and things just kept getting better and better. I'm thrilled to have come away with the win.”
Van Pelt and Garrigus tied for second, each carding 66 after starting the round tied for the lead.
Needing a birdie on 18 to force a playoff, Van Pelt saved par after hitting into a greenside bunker. On Saturday, needing a closing birdie for a 59, he made a double bogey for a 62.
After five birdies on the first seven holes, Woods finished with a 63 to tie for fourth at 19 under with Chris Kirk and Zimbabwe's Brendon de Jonge. Kirk shot 67, and de Jonge had a 66.
The players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairways for the last three rounds because the course was soaked by tropical overnight storms.
Watney won the FedEx Cup opener at Bethpage Black in August for his fifth official PGA Tour victory.
The heat, humidity and rain on the par-71 course combined to make it a unique win for Watney.
He needed his wife, Amber, to carry his bag for the last hole of the first round when caddie Chad Reynolds needed treatment for heat-stroke Thursday. Watney used a local caddie Friday and Reynolds came back for the weekend.
The 31-year-old American started Sunday tied for seventh and said he didn't even think about winning until he walked to the 13th tee with a share of the lead.
He opened with two birdies, adding more at the sixth, eighth and ninth to turn in 30. He birdied three straight from the 11th to take the outright lead at 20 under from Van Pelt.
Watney stretched the margin with another three consecutive birdies from the 15th, including a 25-foot putt from the edge of the green at the 16th. He settled for a birdie on the par-5 17th after missing an eagle putt, then ran into trouble on 18 when he found the rough off the tee and appeared to mis-hit his second shot.
“So the 59 went out the window right there,” he said. “I was more concerned with just winning the tournament. “
Five players have shot 59 in official PGA Tour events. Al Geiberger did it in the 1977 Memphis Classic, Chip Beck in the 1991 Las Vegas Invitational, David Duval in the 1999 Bob Hope Invitational, Paul Goydos in the 2010 John Deere Classic and Stuart Appleby in the 2010 Greenbrier Classic.
Japan's Ryo Ishikawa has the lowest round on a major tour, shooting a 12-under 58 to win the 2010 Crowns on the Japan Tour.
Woods knew he'd need something in the low 60s to have any chance of winning in his first trip back to The Mines since he won the individual and team titles at the 1999 World Cup.
“I needed to get to 20-plus,” Woods said. “That was the goal score at the end of the day. Looks like Nick went ahead and put it to us.”
Wood lamented some wasted opportunities in his third round that put him just about out of contention.
“I had to shoot 9-under today to have any kind of chance — yesterday's last nine holes, that's what put me in a spot where I couldn't win the championship.”
Sweden's Carl Petterson had 10 birdies — narrowly missing an eagle putt on the 17th — and a bogey in a round of 62 to move from a share of 19th into outright seventh at 18 under. Scott Piercy also made a charge, going out in 30 and having four more birdies on the back nine for a 62 to tie for 10th.
Woods will face top-ranked Rory McIlroy, second Sunday in the BMW Masters in Shanghai, in a one-on-one match in China on Monday.
“We'll both probably be a little bit tired,” Woods said. “But we're going to try and put on a good show, shoot a low round and have a little bit of fun.”