Watney's victory timely
FARMINGDALE, N.Y. Even after a year that didn't come close to his expectations, Nick Watney wasn't about to give up on his season.
Amazing how one week changed his outlook in so many ways.
He beat one of the strongest fields of the year at The Barclays, on the tough track of Bethpage Black. Winning the opening playoff event for the FedEx Cup guarantees him a good shot at the $10 million prize. And suddenly, playing in the Ryder Cup becomes a lot more realistic.
That all came into play Sunday when Watney didn't miss a green until the 16th hole, turned a two-shot deficit against Sergio Garcia into a three-shot lead, overcame a trio of three-putt bogeys with clutch birdies, and closed with a 2-under 69 for a three-shot victory.
"It's been not quite the year I wanted," Watney said. "But this really makes it all forgotten. Winning a tournament is hard, but winning out here and against this field was very, very difficult. I'm kind of still on a high right now."
U.S. captain Davis Love III has a lot more choices for his four wild-card selections next week.
Watney won by three shots over Brandt Snedeker, who already was part of the discussion as a potential pick. Snedeker, a winner in San Diego and a contender in the British Open, battled to the end and made big putts on the last two holes for a 1-under 70 to finish alone in second.
Dustin Johnson, also under consideration as a pick, shot 68 and tied for third with Garcia, whose bogey on the final hole gave him a 75.
Not even Watney thought he was worthy of being picked for the Ryder Cup going into the week.
"I'm thinking much more now than I was coming in," he said. "Coming in here, I didn't deserve to be in the conversation because I had not played my way in."
Love will announce his picks after the second playoff event, the Deutsche Bank Championship, which ends on Labor Day. Edgerton native Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk are likely to be two of those picks, and the other two suddenly are wide open.
Watney, who won for the fifth time in his career, finished at 10-under 278.
In what amounted to a duel with Garcia for so much of the day, Watney fell two shots behind after he three-putted for bogey on the fifth hole and Garcia made a 40-footer for birdie on the next hole. Garcia, going for his second straight PGA Tour win, never had much of a chance after that.
"I hit a couple bad shots at the wrong moments," Garcia said. "And unfortunately, I just wasn't feeling comfortable."
Tiger Woods, six shots behind at the start of the day, closed with a 76 and tied for 38th.
While it was effectively a two-man race for much of the day, there was plenty at stake in the FedEx Cup.
Only the top 100 players advance to the Deutsche Bank for the second of four playoff events.