Watney comes up big to win at Doral
Sunday, March 13, 2011; 8:19 PM
DORAL, Fla. -- Nick Watney had every reason to see nothing but trouble as he stood on the 18th tee at Doral, a tough tee shot in any circumstance, let alone with a World Golf Championship on the line.
History was hardly on his side Sunday at the Cadillac Championship.
Two years ago, he lost a duel against Phil Mickelson by one turn of the ball on his final putt. Only the day before, Watney lost focus and pulled his tee shot into the water to make double bogey and fall out of the lead.
Presented yet another chance, Watney seized it.
He belted his tee shot down the middle, fired an 8-iron over the corner of the lake and sank a 12-foot birdie putt for a two-shot victory over Dustin Johnson.
"I wasn't nervous," Watney said. "I really wanted to take care of business and to grasp this opportunity. I actually love that feeling; you don't get it too often. But I really love to be ... yeah, I guess I was a little nervous.
"But it's fun," he said when the laughter subsided. "That's why you play. I'm thinking, 'I have to be in this moment - right now - because this is all that counts.'"
He made it pay off with the biggest win of his career, one that puts him in the conversation of top American golfers.
Watney closed with a 5-under 67 with a birdie he felt was important, especially with Johnson behind him in the 18th fairway after a big drive of his own. Johnson hit a 9-iron that covered the flag and settled 8 feet away. Typical of his final round, he missed it and shot 71.
"I did everything I wanted to do, and just couldn't get it in the hole," Johnson said.
Butch Harmon is the swing coach for both of them, and he got choked up when he hugged Watney after his press conference. Harmon started working with Watney when he was a raw talent at Fresno State, hardly one of the elite in the game at the time.
Few players have such a pleasant disposition, so much that Watney's college buddies called him "Rube" after the character in "Major League II" because he was so polite to the seniors. Against Johnson and the rest of a world-class field, Watney showed no mercy.