FARMINGDALE, N.Y. Even after a year that didnt come close to his expectations, Nick Watney wasnt about to give up this season.
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 didnt 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.
Its 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. Im kind of still on a high right now.
Only the top 100 players advance to the Deutsche Bank for the second of four playoff events. The biggest move belonged to Graham DeLaet of Canada, who started the week at No. 106 and was right on the bubble going into the final round.
It turned out way better than DeLaet could have imagined. Despite back-to-back bogeys on the front nine, he answered with four birdies on his next seven holes, and then holed out with on the 15th for eagle with a 9-iron from 161 yards. He closed with two birdies for a Sunday-best 65.
Not only did he advance, DeLaet moved up 62 spots to No. 44 and should be safe for the next two tournaments.
I guess a lot of people think theres too much volatility in it, but it was in my favor, DeLaet said. If you can have one really good event, you can catapult yourself up. And now I feel I have a chance to get into the Tour Championship, where this morning I was just hoping to play next week.