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Watney sneaks past a faltering Rollins

NICK Watney made two birdies over the final three holes to take advantage of a late collapse by John Rollins and win the Buick Invitational in San Diego, California, on Sunday.

Watney knocked in a 40-foot birdie putt from the fringe on the par-three 16th, then completed his five-shot rally with a two-putt birdie on the 18th hole. He closed with a four-under 68 for his second career victory.

"I knew it wasn't over," Watney said.

Rollins let this one get away.

He had a three-shot lead with five holes to play until making a bogey with a poor chip on the 14th, another bogey from a plugged lie in the bunker on the 16th, and failing to hit the green on the par-5 18th, leading to a par. He shot a 74.

Watney finished at 11-under 277 ?? the same total Ryuji Imada had last year when he was runner-up by eight shots to Tiger Woods, who has not played since knee surgery after winning the US Open last June at Torrey Pines.

Lucas Glover and Camilo Villegas also had their chances.

Glover briefly was within one shot of the lead and was still in the mix until he pulled his tee shot on the 17th into rough so thick that he had to hit out short of the green and missed a seven-foot par putt. He birdied the last hole for a 68 and tied for third, two shots behind.

Villegas was within one shot until a three-putt from 10 feet on the par-five sixth, and Rollins' collapse offered the Colombian another chance. But he hit out of the rough and over the green at the 17th to make a bogey, and his 40-foot eagle putt on the 18th hole stopped a few inches above the hole. He closed with a 72.

Watney was five shots behind going into the final round and was an afterthought most of the day, never getting closer than two shots until the tournament swung in his favor on the 16th.

Rollins' tee shot found the left bunker, and the ball resembled a fried egg. The lie was so severe that the best he could do was blast out across the green and into the rough, 25 feet away. He chipped to two feet for a bogey. Watney was 40 feet away on the fringe, facing a putt that broke sharply to the left. But the pace was perfect, the ball caught the left edge and dropped, and Watney widened his eyes and pumped his fist.

That gave him a tie for the lead, and after they exchanged pars on the 17th, he came up with the shot that mattered on the 18th, finding the top shelf of the green and coaxing his eagle putt a few feet away.

Matt Jones of Australia matched the low round of the week on the South Course with a 64 and finished alone in fifth.


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