LOS CABOS, Mexico (AP) — Erik van Rooyen made a 16-foot eagle putt on the par-5 closing hole Sunday to win the World Wide Technology Championship, a day after Matt Kuchar squandered a six-stroke lead with a late meltdown.
Playing alongside Kuchar at Tiger Woods-designed El Cardonal at Diamante on the tip of Baja California, van Rooyen played the back nine in 8-under 28 in a 9-under 63. The 33-year-old South African finished at 27-under 261 for his second PGA Tour victory, two strokes ahead of Kuchar and Camilo Villegas.
“Quite numb after that putt went in on 18,” van Rooyen said. “You imagine yourself full of euphoria and just being ecstatic and I was just numb. I think it’s because of everything the past six days with my friend Jon (Trasamar) being so sick. I guess just the moment just hasn’t hit me yet.”
Kuchar and Villegas each shot 66, with the 45-year-old Kuchar parring the final four holes. Tied for the lead on 18, Kuchar — after van Rooyen and Villegas hit fairway-wood second shots near each other on the green — hit his approach left of the green and chipped 20 feet past the hole.
“I’m pretty bummed,” Kuchar said. “You come out with a great chance to win a golf tournament — and the goal is to win a golf tournament. But I hold my head held high. Erik played incredible golf.”
On Saturday, Kuchar was six strokes ahead at 24 under when he pulled his drive on 15 left into dense bushes and made a quadruple-bogey 8. He then bogeyed the par-3 16th, and ended up tied for the lead with Villegas.
“I think I played 71 really good holes,” Kuchar said. “It kind of turns out to be the difference, you need to play 72 good holes out here. I had one jump up and get me.”
Van Rooyen opened play Sunday with a bogey on the par-5 first and made birdies on Nos. 2 and 6.
“Making a 6 on one left a sour taste in my mouth,” said van Rooyen, who won the 2021 Barracuda Championship under the modified Stableford scoring system. “Then you drain a 35-, 40-footer on two and it’s like, `OK, it’s all right. This is a silly game, so just keep playing.’”
In his back-nine charge, he birdied Nos. 10-12, 14, 16 and 17 and closed with the eagle.
“Things just turned on the back nine,” van Rooyen said. “Great birdie on 10, almost holed it on 11, beautiful 13-, 14-footer on 12, left-right breaker in the heart and you’re off and running. Just hung in there and made some awesome putts on 16, 17 and 18. … That shot will be with me forever, that 3-wood I hit.
Justin Suh was fourth at 24 under after a 65. Andrew Putnam (62) and Ryan Palmer (64) were 22 under.
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