Pampling was one behind Owen as they reached the par-3 17th. Pampling missed the green left while Owen went right at the flagstick, but came up short. His ball rolled back into the rough, but was dry and with a decent lie, Owen should have had no problem getting up and down for par.
What happened next was almost too amazing to believe.
Owen pushed the par putt right and the ball ran about 3 feet past the hole. He did not mark his ball or line up the putt. He took less than 10 seconds for his 3-footer and his bogey putt lipped out. Instead of heading to Bay Hill's difficult closing hole with a two-shot lead, Owen was now tied for the lead with Pampling at minus-14.
'I felt very calm,' admitted Owen about his gaffe on the 17th. 'Obviously, I pushed the first one and thought I'd knock it in. It came right around the hole. Stupid. A lapse of concentration.'
Pampling found the fairway off the tee at 18, while Owen's ball stopped in the first cut of rough on the left side. Owen's approach landed in a bunker left of the green and Pampling played his second 50 feet left of the hole. Owen blasted 13 feet past the cup, while Pampling lagged his birdie try inside two feet.
Owen hit a beautiful putt that headed toward the center of the hole. It moved right at the last second and once again, Owen saw a putt lip out completely around the hole.
Pampling tapped in and earned his second PGA Tour victory after winning The International in 2004.
'It's sad to see, but that's golf,' said Pampling, who pocketed $990,000 for the win. 'I thought my chances were gone. I wasn't expecting what happened. Thankfully, we got to the 18th tee and par was good enough.'
Owen, an Englishman who has won on the European Tour and in his second year on the PGA Tour, was philosophical about what happened on the 17th green.
'When I won the British Masters, things happened and putts went in,' said Owen. 'Whatever happens with the golfing gods, that's what happens. It wasn't my day today. I'll have to wait for another day.'
Pampling, who nearly squandered an overnight, four-shot lead, only managed an even-par 72 on Sunday. He finished at 14-under-par 274, which was good for a one-stroke victory over Owen, who posted a final-round 69.
Darren Clarke had a remote chance to force a playoff. If he birdied the 18th hole and both Pampling and Owen made bogey, there would have been sudden death.
Clarke missed his 15-foot birdie putt on 18, and Pampling saved par. Clarke carded a 2-under 70 on Sunday and finished alone in third place at 12-under-par 276.
Robert Allenby shot a 69 and took fourth at minus-11.
Tiger Woods, a four-time champion, never got anything going all week. On Sunday, he posted an even-par 72 and tied for 20th place at 4-under-par 284.
Owen played strong golf with three front-nine birdies to two for Pampling. When Owen rolled in a 22-foot birdie putt at the 10th, he was only two behind the Australian.
Pampling coughed up his lead at the 13th. He drove out of bounds, then failed to sink a 15-footer for bogey. The double bogey dropped Pampling into a tie with Owen for the lead.
Owen ran home a 30-foot birdie putt from the back fringe at the 14th to move one ahead. Pampling knotted things at 15 with a 12-footer for birdie, but Owen moved in front when he got up and down for birdie from a bunker at the par-5 16th.
Then came the insanity at 17 and Pampling ultimately hoisted the trophy.
'All of sudden, you're tied again,' said Pampling. 'I figured I had to make a putt because Greg hadn't missed a shot virtually all day. I don't know what happened.'
Lee Westwood and Ted Purdy shot matching rounds of 5-under 67 on Sunday to tie for fifth place at minus-10. Vijay Singh carded a 3-under 69 and finished alone in seventh at 9-under-par 279.