German Alex Cejka just missed out on his first US Tour victory after Australian Rod Pampling grabbed an eagle at the penultimate hole of the International tournament in Colorado.
Cejka led by two points when he birdied the same hole, but under the unusual format Pampling’s three in the following group was worth five points.
The Queensland golfer then parred the last to collect the €751,400 first prize - and left Cejka to rue a double bogey on the short 16th which not only dented his title hopes but also meant he missed a golden opportunity to jump into the thick of the battle for Ryder Cup places.
The 33-year-old had had only one top-10 finish on the US Tour this season and was 83rd on their money list, but the world ranking points for a victory would have lifted him into the top 20 of the points race.
By missing out so narrowly he knows he may need one of the two wild cards from captain Bernhard Langer – himself joint ninth at Castle Pines – and with only three weeks to go it is thought that Colin Montgomerie and Luke Donald are ahead of Cejka in the pecking order.
“Crazy things happen in this tournament, but I was beaten by a great eagle,” Cejka said.
“I’ve seen in the past where 17 was the decider, but everybody had a chance. We were all putting for eagles and it’s just who makes the putt. He did it at the right time and he deserves it.”
Pampling rolled in a 21-foot putt to take the lead, then parred the final hole to finish two points in front of the German in the modified Stableford format at Castle Pines.
The Australian amassed 31 points for his first victory in 81 starts on the PGA Tour.
Cejka led with three holes left but a double-bogey at the 16th hole cost him three points in the format that rewards aggressive play.
American Tom Pernice finished third with 27 points.
Pampling will finally be known for something other than a bizarre Open meltdown, ending the questions of how he managed to miss the cut at Carnoustie in 1999 after being the first-round leader.
“This whole format is designed for someone to do something special on 17, and fortunately it was me,” said Pampling.
“When I came to 17, I knew the scenario. I knew I had to make birdie and it was just fantastic that the eagle went in.
“I had a similar putt in the practice round and I knew it broke a lot. It was a matter of getting the speed right. I could see three or four inches out that it was tracking right in there.”
Swede Mathias Gronberg, ineligible for the Ryder Cup, shared ninth spot with Langer, while Jose Maria Olazabal was 12th and Justin Rose 19th.