Sergio Garcia fired a final round six-under-par 65 to win the Booz Allen Classic in Potomac, Maryland on Sunday and establish himself as one of the hot favourites for next week's U.S. Open.
The Spaniard finished with a course record-equalling 14-under 270 at the historic Congressional Golf Club to claim a two-stroke victory over defending champion Adam Scott of Australia and Americans Davis Love III and Ben Crane.
The 25-year-old began the day trailing overnight leader Tom Kite, 30 year his senior, by two shots but mounted an early charge with five birdies and an eagle on his opening 10 holes to rocket to the top of the leaderboard.
With his first win of the season in sight, Garcia stumbled to the finish with bogeys on two of his final four holes, including the last, but held on to win the $5 million event.
As he walked up the final fairway the Spaniard admitted "having the ghosts of Wachovia floating over my head", recalling his dramatic final round collapse when he squandered a six-shot lead and then lost to Vijay Singh in a playoff last month.
"I played well, the front nine was amazing," said Garcia after posting his sixth PGA Tour win. "I probably putted the best I have in three or four years. I made a couple of bad shots coming in...but I've been playing well."
Scott made a late bid for back-to-back titles but his only bogey of the day on the par four 17th, after his approach found the water, left him needing an ace on the par three last to force a playoff.
The Australian took his best shot at the 18th but had to settle for par and a three-under 68 for a share of second place.
"It's disappointing but obviously it was a good week and what I was looking for going to Pinehurst now (for the U.S. Open)," said Scott.
"My game feels great. I'm happy with the stuff I have to achieve with my swing this week, especially over the weekend. It came down to that one shot (on the 17th) that took me out of the tournament today."
South African Ernie Els, who won his second U.S. Open title at the Congressional in 1997, had looked poised to return to the winner's circle early in the day with four consecutive birdies to close out his front nine.
But the world number three fell apart after the turn mixing one birdie with four bogeys and a double-bogey on 18 to return a one-over 72 and finish in a tie for seventh at eight-under 276 with six other players.
World number one Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson will not be pleased with their form heading to Pinehurst on Monday for the start of the year's second major.
After missing the cut a week ago at the Memorial, the hard-working Fijian was still battling to find his form, carding a final round par 71 including a triple-bogey at the last.
Mickelson also walked off the 18th on a sour note finishing with a double-bogey five for a three-over 74 to join Singh in a tie for 29th at five-under 279.
U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen also needs to quickly find his form to have any chance of successfully defending his crown after the South African finished his final tune-up event with a three-over 74 for a total of two-over 286.