A tournament-record 15 players finished within three shots of the winner, breaking the previous mark of 14 from 1991.
The greens at Warwick Hills usually draw rave reviews, but dry conditions baked the greens and frustrated the field.
"I would say they're right there with the U.S. Open in that they're really crusty and firm and bumpy around the hole," Austin said.
While Bateman's final stroke will make the highlights on TV, a putt he made at No. 17 made the win possible. He made an 8-footer, avoiding a costly bogey, after missing the green on the par-3 hole.
"My putter really bailed me out," Bateman said.
For the first time since 1999, the Buick Open winner didn't play in the final group.
Third-round leader Tom Pernice Jr. shot a 75, finishing in a tie for 20th at 10 under. Jesper Parnevik, who was also in the final group, didn't fare much better with a 73 to finish tied for 16th at 11 under.
Bateman insisted he looked at a leaderboard only once, after the ninth hole.
"I didn't ask my caddie at all how I stood until I stood in the last fairway and I asked him what we needed," Bateman recalled. "And he said, 'Birdie to win.'"
Bateman teared up on the final fairway, then regained his composure well enough to make a putt on a green that fooled many in the field all week.
"When I got to 18, I really felt like it was my time," he said. "I felt like this was my one chance, since I've been on Tour, to have a putt on the 18th hole to win. It's something you tell yourself as a kid on the putting green, 'This is to win.'
"It's very gratifying, when you've come up short so many times, to finally pull through."
Divots: John Daly, finishing a season-best 16th, attracted the largest gallery and it included one of his famous friends, Kid Rock, who invited Daly to stay at his Detroit-area house during the week. ... Bateman's winning score was the highest since Singh (15 under) won his first of three Buick Opens in 1997. ... Bateman became the eighth player to win his first PGA Tour event this year and the third straight, following Angel Cabrera at the U.S. Open and Hunter Mahan at the Travelers Championship. ... The previous three first-time winners at the Buick Open were Pernice (1999), Leonard (1996) and Austin (1995). ... Leonard and Gore finished in the top 10 for the first time this year. ... Furyk was under par for the 37th straight round at Warwick Hills, dating back to 1997.