Another week, another lost player found his way back to the winner’s circle. Welcome to golf’s great summer revival, a traveling exhibition of born-again careers. On Sunday, Nick Watney became the latest prodigal putter when he closed with a two-under-par 69 at the Black Course at Bethpage State Park for a 72-hole total of 10-under 274 for a three-stroke victory over Brandt Snedeker at the Barclays, the opening leg of the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs.
Watney, a two-time winner last year, wrapped up his first title in 13 months with a 10-foot birdie on the final green, his faith in his putting restored by a Long Island club professional who tweaked his setup during a lesson at the beginning of the tournament week. A simple weight transfer, from Watney’s heels to the balls of his feet, was all it took for him to rebound.
“It paid off huge,” Watney said of his work with Darrell Kestner, a pro at Deepdale Golf Club in Manhasset, N.Y.
Watney, 31, found inspiration all around him. There was Ernie Els, who did not qualify for the Masters four months ago, leading people to speculate that his career was on the downslope and rolling inexorably toward the Champions Tour. Els silenced his critics with a victory last month at the British Open and tied for 54th here, at three over.
Too, there was Watney’s playing partner the last two rounds, Sergio García, who had not qualified for the European Ryder Cup team four weeks ago and was talking as if his career had peaked. García silenced his inner critic with a victory last week at the Wyndham Championship, his first PGA title in four years, and took a two-stroke lead into Sunday’s final round.
He closed with a 75 that included a bogey on the last hole to tie for third with Dustin Johnson, who carded a 68. At the end of the round, García said he congratulated Watney and told him he hoped they would square off again in the Ryder Cup.
WHAT'S IN NICK'S WINNING BAG?
DRIVER: Titleist 913D3 (10.5°) with a Mitsubishi Diamana White Board 83X shaft
FAIRWAY WOOD: Titleist 910F (15°) with Mitsubishi Diamana Blue Board 93X shaft; (19°) with Fujikura Motore Speeder VC 8.2 shaft
IRONS: Titleist 712 MB (3-PW) with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts
WEDGES: Titleist Vokey Design SM4 (54°, 60°) with True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 shafts
PUTTER: Scotty Cameron for Titleist Studio Select Newport prototype
BALL: Titleist Pro V1x
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