Van Rooyen Eagles 18th Hole to Defeat Villegas, Kuchar by 2 in WW Technology

Erik van Rooyen of South Africa trailed Camilo Villegas of Colombia and Matt Kuchar most of the way before hitting them with a lightning bolt at the finish.

The 33-year-old Van Rooyen sank a 16-foot eagle putt on the last hole to cap a nine-under-par 63 and win the 17th World Wide Technology Championship by two strokes over Villegas and Kuchar at El Cardonal at Diamonte in Los Cabos, Mexico.

This was the fifth of seven events in the PGA Tour Fall Series.

“I’m quite numb after that putt went in on 18,” said Van Rooyen, whose only other PGA Tour victory came in the 2021 Barracuda Championship. “You imagine yourself full of euphoria and just being ecstatic and I was just numb. I think it’s because of everything the last six days with my friend Jon (Trasamar and former college teammate at Minnesota) being so sick. I guess just the moment just hasn’t hit me yet.

“Making a 6 on the first hole left a sour taste in my mouth. Then you drain a 40-footer on No. 2, and it’s like: ‘OK, it’s all right. This is a silly game, so just keep playing.’ Things just turned on the back nine.

“I made great birdie on No 10, almost holed it on No. 11, sank a 14-footer on No. 12, a left-right breaker in the heart of the hole, and you’re off and running. I just hung in there and made some awesome putts on Nos. 16, 17 and 18. … That shot will be with me forever, that 3-wood I hit on the last hole.”

Van Rooyen, who has won five times as a professional, collected six of his eight birdies on the back nine in addition to his eagle and finished with a winning score of 27-under-par 263.

Villegas, who claimed the last of his four PGA Tour victories in the 2014 Wyndham Championship, birdied four of the first six holes and the last two in a bogey-free 66, while Kuchar, who has won 18 times as a professional, made three birdies on each nine in another bogey-free 66.

“Listen, (Van Rooyen’s)  birdie-birdie-eagle finish is impressive,” said Kuchar, who won the 2018 World Wide Technology Championship. “What was that … eight-under par on the final nine holes is quite an awesome finale. That’s hard to keep up with. At the end of the day, you just tip your hat to him and say that’s some awesome playing.

“I’m pretty bummed. You come out with a great chance to win a golf tournament — and the goal is to win a golf tournament. But I can hold my head held high. Erik just played incredible golf.”

Said Villegas: “I’m proud of the way I played today and all this week. I just came up a little short.”

Justin Suh of San Jose and USC had three birdies on each nine in a closing 65 and finished three shots behind in solo fourth, while Andrew Putnam of Pepperdine collected 10 birdies in a bogey-free 62 to wind up five down in a tie for fifth with Ryan Palmer, who eagled the 10th hole and added six birdies in a bogey-free 64.

Chesson Hadley birdied five holes on the front nine and four on the back in a bogey-free 63 to finish six strokes back in a tie for seventh with Mackenzie Hughes of Canada, who had five birdies in a 68, while Carson Young made three birdies on each nine in a 67 and was one more down in solo ninth.

Akshay Bhatia of Northridge eagled the 14th hole and added seven birdies in a 64 to wind up eight shots behind in a tie for 10th with Ludvig Aberg of Sweden, who collected eight birdies in a bogey-free 64, Austin Cook, who amassed 10 birdies in a bogey-free 62, Nate Lashley, who birdied the last two holes for a 66, and Sam Ryder, who made five birdies on the back nine in a 67.

Patton Kizzire, who won this tournament in 2017, made five birdies in a 69 to tie for 15th, and Cameron Percy of Australia, the first-round leader at 62, birdied the last hole to salvage a 72 and tied for 59th.

This was the first PGA Tour event played on a course designed by Tiger Woods, who was on hand to watch the action after finishing work on the course in 2014.

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