Aug. 26, 2012
FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (PGATOUR.COM) -- Nick Watney turned a two-shot deficit against Sergio Garcia into a three-shot lead in a decisive four-hole stretch around the turn at Bethpage State Park Black Course, and no one got closer than two shots the rest of the way.
Watney made a 10-foot birdie putt on the last hole for a 2-under 69 to capture the Barclays - the opening event in the FedExCup Playoffs.
With the win, Watney takes over the top spot in the FedExCup standings for the first time since the final week of the 2011 Regular Season.
He wound up winning by three shots over Brandt Snedeker, who birdied the last hole for a 70. Garcia made bogey on the 18th for a 75.
With the top spot in the FedExCup standings, Watney is assured a shot at the $10 million prize at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola next month. It could also be a big step toward an event that doesn't pay anything at all -- the Ryder Cup.
Winning against one of the strongest fields of the year at least puts him in the conversation to be one of four captain's picks for the Sept. 28-30 matches at Medinah. Davis Love III will announce his choices after next week's Deutsche Bank Championship.
Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk are likely to be two of those picks, and the other two are suddenly wide open.
Snedeker, already under consideration, battled to the end on a warm day on Long Island. He made a 15-foot par putt on the 17th hole and closed with a birdie to be alone in second place. Complicating matters for Love is that Dustin Johnson shot 68 and tied for third, along with Garcia.
Watney, who won for the fifth time in his career, finished on 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.
Watney two-putted for birdie on the seventh. On the par-3 eighth, Garcia scrambled for bogey from the bunker, while Watney holed a bending, 30-foot birdie putt to take his first lead of the day. Another two-shot swing followed on the 10th, when Garcia three-putted and Watney hit a beautiful approach to 4 feet for birdie.
Watney hit all the right shots and seized control for good with a 10-foot birdie putt on the 14th.
"I made more putts than I made all year," Watney said.
He credits that to some tips from Darrell Kestner, the respected club pro at nearby Deepdale, a lesson set up by a friend. Kestner worked on his setup, mainly keeping Watney from leaning to far back on his heels.
"It paid off," Watney said.
Watney was a three-time All-American at Fresno State, winning WAC Player of the Year honors three times and winning 10 collegiate tournaments. He became the only golfer in WAC history to win the Joe Kearney Award as the top athlete in the conference.
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