Justin Rose expected a moment like this, posing on the 18th green of the famed Blue Monster at Doral, Fla., with a World Golf Championship trophy in his hands. It’s the rest of the script that made Sunday so surprising.
The biggest charge came from Rory McIlroy, eight shots behind until he crept within one of the lead late in the round.
The early departure came from Tiger Woods, who muddied his Masters future by limping off the course after 11 holes with soreness in the left Achilles’ tendon, the one that caused him to miss two majors last year.
Bubba Watson went from a collapse on the front nine, when he lost his three-shot lead in four holes, to a clutch shot on the final hole when he hit a bullet of a 4-iron out of the palm trees to 9 feet from the cup that put one last scare into Rose.
All that drama, and Rose didn’t realize he had won until he was on the practice range and heard nothing. Watson missed the birdie putt.
Rose closed with a 2-under-par 70, a score he didn’t think would be nearly good enough to win.
“I’ve been very focused on seeing this whole Florida swing as like a body of work, and not really trying to put too much focus on any individual tournament,’’ he said. “I kind of knew I was playing well, and if I just kept out of my own way for the most part and kept thinking well and doing the right things, I had a feeling something good might happen.’’
It was a day of endless drama.
Sergio Garcia hit four balls into the water at the par-4 third hole and made a 12. Paul Casey made a hole-in-one on the 13th hole. Rose had to make up a three-shot deficit on Watson at the start of the round, and when he made the turn, he found himself two shots behind PGA champion Keegan Bradley, who then shot 41 on the back nine.
Through so much commotion, Rose never felt steadier.
For Woods, his future is a mystery.
“I felt tightness in my left Achilles’ warming up this morning, and it continued to get progressively worse,’’ Woods said in a statement. “After hitting my tee shot at 12, I decided it was necessary to withdraw.’’
PGA - George McNeill birdied his last three holes for a 3-under 69 to rally past Japanese star Ryo Ishikawa and win the Puerto Rico Open in Rio Grande
Ishikawa closed with a 68 and had a one-shot lead. McNeill caught him with a birdie on the 16th, took the lead with a birdie on the 17th, and added another birdie on the par-5 18th.
Henrik Stenson (71) and Boo Weekley (66) tied for third, three shots behind.
Nationwide - Paul Haley II won the Chile Classic in Santiago in his third career Nationwide Tour start, closing with a 1-under 71 for a three-stroke victory.
Joseph Bramlett shot a 64 to finish second. Paul Claxton was another stroke back after a 68, while Andover’s Rob Oppenheim (69) was fourth at 16 under.