Ryan Moore defeated Gary Woodland in a play-off to win the storm-hit CIMB Classic in Malaysia on Monday, crediting a recent four-week break aimed at polishing his game.
The two Americans, who were tied on 14 under par after four rounds on Sunday, were forced to wait overnight for the sudden-death play-off after tournament organisers ran out of time and daylight because of lightning delays.
But Moore made short work of it with a birdie on the first hole at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club, a par-five.
Moore said he used a four-week break spanning September and October “to work on my game”.
“My coach and I looked at our [PGA Tour] stats, and worked on pretty much anything I was outside the top 100,” Moore said.
“The wedge game was one of those that had been a struggle for me. We spent the last month working on that and it turns out that was what gave me the chance to even win this tournament.”
He came through with a nice approach shot on Monday to put away Woodland, who will rue missed opportunities to convert birdies on Sunday that could have wrapped up the tournament.
Both golfers hit perfect tee shots but Moore upped the pressure with his third shot, an approach to about four feet of the flag for a birdie chance.
Woodland’s chances effectively ended when his third missed the green.
Moore, 31, earned US$1.26 million, a guaranteed place in next year’s US Masters and a two-year PGA Tour exemption.
The four-year-old tournament was an official PGA Tour event for the first time.
It marks Moore’s third tour victory after wins at the 2009 Wyndham Championship and 2012 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
Woodland said it was a learning experience. “I enjoyed my time here. Obviously I played well but came up short,” he said.
“It is something for me to build on and I look forward to coming back next year.”
Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat and American Chris Stroud finished a stroke back on 13 under on Sunday to share third place.
The tournament attracted the biggest names in its history including major winners Phil Mickelson, Keegan Bradley and Ernie Els but only Bradley finished in the top 10, taking 10th spot. Mickelson, the world number three, finished tied for 19th at five under.
Two lengthy rain delays halted play for more than three hours on Sunday and appeared to break the stride of some late contenders, leaving Moore and Woodland on top.
Moore said golfing legend Gary Player sent him a congratulatory tweet. “It’s amazing. It’s kind of fun to know people are paying attention all over the world and all sorts of different places. To feel that and have that support, it’s great,” he said.