This week, the world’s best players found themselves at the Mines Golf Club in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for the CIMB Classic. The strong field of American players included Tiger Woods, Robert Garrigus, Bo Van Pelt, Ben Crane and Nick Watney, who shot a final-round 61 to take the title.
Going into the weekend, Woods was five shots back from leader Garrigus, who shot back-to-back 64s in Rounds 1 and 2. On Saturday, Woods appeared to be in position to jump to the top of the leaderboard, going into the back nine with a six-under 30. However, faulty shots led him to a total 69; yet again five back from the leaders. Meanwhile, Garrigus kept his foot on the gas, shooting a two under 69 to hold the lead. Bo Van Pelt, the winner of last year’s CIMB Classic as well as the ISPS Handa Perth International Melbourne, played a nearly perfect round of 62 to tie the lead at 16-under.
Before Sunday’s round, with a supposedly soft and receptive course, players knew that they would have to go low to win.
“My goal was to get to 20-plus [under],” Woods said. “That’s the only chance I had. I had to post that. That was the goal starting yesterday because that means I had to shoot 9 under today just to have any kind of chance.”
Tiger, as well as fellow American headliner Ben Crane, started the day off hot, with Woods going 5-under through seven holes, and Crane going 4-under through five. As the day progressed, other players began to join the mix, including Brendon de Jonge, South African Jbe’ Kruger and Watney. Not being in the last group, Watney finished well before previous leaders Garrigus and Van Pelt, giving them some room to catch him. Garrigus was unable to match the pace of his playing partner Van Pelt, who with two holes to go, found himself in a do-or-die situation. Needing a birdie on both Nos. 17 and 18 to force a playoff with Watney, Van Pelt managed to get up and down for birdie on the par five 17th. After a blocked drive on No. 18, however, he made par to finish in second place behind Watney. In regards to Watney’s performance, Van Pelt said,
“You’ve just got to tip your cap. Every once in a while a guy comes from the pack and shoots a low number and wins the golf tournament, and that’s what happened today.”
With a career low performance of 61, Watney finds himself in the winner’s circle for the second time in two months, his last victory coming at the first round of the PGA Tour’s Race for the FedExCup, The Barclays.
“Today I putted as good as I have since the Barclays tournament in the States a while back,” Watney said. “That was definitely the difference between the first round and the last three.”
This marks the third time in the history of the tournament that an American has won at the CIMB Classic. The international swing continues next week with the WGC HSBC Champions in Hong Kong, with a star-studded field of Phil Mickleson, Luke Donald, Bubba Watson and others.