Tuesday October 30, 2012
Watney: Bringing Woods was a good move
By LIM TEIK HUAT
KUALA LUMPUR: Tiger Woods was on the prowl during the CIMB Classic at the Mines Resort and Golf Club and it was certainly heaven-sent for the organisers as he brought his A game with him.
It was only his second trip to the country after a 13-year absence. An opening round of five-under 66 helped dispel doubts that he was going to treat the CIMB Classic as a leisure trip so soon after concluding the PGA Tour season.
There were hiccups over the next two days but Woods sent the crowd following him into a frenzy when he shot a bogey free eight-under 63 to pounce on the leaders on the final day.
Altogether, Woods had 28 birdies last week, matching the most he has ever recorded in a single event on the PGA Tour.
He also had 28 birdies in the 2006 Buick Open and the 2007 Tour Championship by Coca-Cola Ė and he won both those events.
Woods, despite a sex scandal, is still the biggest draw in golf and tournament winner Nick Watney said it was a good move by the organisers to get him here.
No appearance fees are paid to players featuring in PGA events and it was the good relationship between the owner of Mines Resort City Ė Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew Ė and Woods that saw the American returning here for the first time since his last visit for the World Cup in 1999.
ďItís great that he came. I really enjoyed beating Tiger. I think everybody will agree that in these last 15 years, heís been by far the biggest attraction in our sport. So I think itís great every tournament that he comes to,Ē said Watney, who was all smiles as he picked up the US$1.3mil winning purse, which comes in handy for his second wedding anniversary today.
The heat, humidity and rain on the par-71 course combined to make it a unique win for Watney and his support team.
He needed his wife, Amber, to carry his bag for the last hole of the first round when caddy Chad Reynolds needed treatment for heatstroke on Thursday.
Watney had to rely on his wife Amber to finish that one hole while Reynolds recovered the following day.
Watney flirted with the magical 59 and could have got it if not for the closing hole bogey to end with a 10-under 61.
He was not the only golfer with a chance for a 59 as defending champion Bo Van Pelt also came close en route to finishing with the 62 in the third round on Saturday.
These elements have certainly whetted the appetite of golf fans here for the return of the CIMB Classic, which will become a full-fledged PGA Tour event.
Ranking points will be given out, the prize money will rise to US$7mil and the field will increase to 70 from the current 48 when the tournament returns next October.
And the organisers can hold on to the statement made by Woods that he would love to come back.
ďThis has been a fantastic event. It certainly has grown over the years, and now itís going to be part of the Tour. Itís been a major growth of this event, sort of what HSBC went through in China, and now itís one of the marquee events,Ē said Woods.
Now, if only Rory McIlroy can also make it to the tee box ...