Moore is first back-to-back winner of CIMB Classic
Despite holding a two-stroke lead over his nearest rivals, American Ryan Moore was feeling nervous going into the final four holes of the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
As luck would have it, an awry tee-shot on the 17th hole by his flight-mate Kevin Na - the co-leader going into the final day - resulted in a double-bogey and helped the 31-year-old Moore calm down and win the US$7 million ($9m) tournament at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
Moore carded a five-under 67 for a 17-under total of 271, three strokes ahead of Na, Gary Woodland and world No. 4 Sergio Garcia.
"I was pretty nervous through the 15th and 16th holes, especially after making bogey on 16th," said Moore at a media conference, after he was presented his trophy by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
"I hadn't hit a great drive on 17th, and it was very unfortunate that we didn't know where Kevin's ball went there. We looked and looked and, in some ways, it distracted me from being nervous.
"By the time I hit my second shot on 17th, I didn't have the nerves any more and stepped up from there."
With Woodland finishing earlier with a 67, and flight-mates Garcia and Na then ending on 14 under overall, it was down to Moore to keep his nerves on the par-five 18th.
And he claimed the win with a par at the first time of asking to take home the US$1.26m winner's cheque. In the process, he became the first back-to-back winner of the tournament, which is co-sanctioned by the US PGA Tour and the Asian Tour.
The world No. 47 also becomes the first player to win a PGA Tour event in consecutive years since Tiger Woods clinched the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2012 and 2013.
Moore, who had beaten Woodland in a play-off in the Malaysian capital last year, admitted that he was looking over his shoulder for his countryman yesterday, in addition to Na and Garcia.
"Gary had a fantastic weekend. I saw him charging up there today and that, honestly, motivated me to just keep making birdies," said Moore, who finished the day with eight birdies and three bogeys.
"He played great golf and it kept me focused."
Na was visibly disappointed after his 70 which featured five birdies, one bogey and that disastrous double-bogey on 17th, but was gracious in defeat.
The Korean-American said: "It was my tournament, but Ryan played fantastic. Hats off to him, he deserves it. It's disappointing when you know you had the lead and it's yours.
"On 16th, I was a bit frustrated. A camera went off and I backed off and never regrouped (and missed my chance to birdie).
"It's my fault for hitting a bad putt. At the next hole, I got very unlucky, hit the trees and the ball never came down."
Spaniard Garcia, the highest-ranked player in the tournament, thought he had a chance to win yesterday, despite his putter going cold on the front nine.
"After the ninth hole, I thought I had a chance and, if I could have hit a decent tee-shot, or even get a birdie on 10th, I would have a good chance," said Garcia.
"But I hit my tee-shot a little left and hit the cart path, and the ball just disappeared. That (double-bogey) kind of put me off a little, and I had to do something really, extremely good coming in.
"I fought quite hard, and Ryan played really well. He hit two or three really good shots coming in that gave him a little bit more room to manoeuvre, and he deserved to win."
271: Ryan Moore 68-69-67-67
274: Gary Woodland 71-70-66-67, Kevin Na 69-68-67-70, Sergio Garcia 69-68-68-69
276: Cameron Smith 70-69-69-68, Bae Sang Moon 71-68-68-69
278: Prom Meesawat 68-71-70-69, Angelo Que 67-72-69-70
279: Lee Westwood 72-65-74-68
280: Charl Schwartzel 74-70-68-68.