New memories

Nick Watney celebrates his birdie putt on the 18th green during the final round of the 2011 WGC-Cadillac Championship at the TPC Blue Monster at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa.
Nick Watney celebrates his birdie putt on the 18th green during the final round of the 2011 WGC-Cadillac Championship at the TPC Blue Monster at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa. ( Getty Images )

Sunday, March 13, 2011

DORAL, Fla. – Nick Watney didn't let this one slip away.

Watney birdied the tough No. 18 at Doral to help him win the Cadillac Championship on Sunday, picking up a World Golf Championship title in the process.

Two years ago, Watney lost a heart-breaker to Phil Mickelson at Doral, coming up one turn of the ball short on the final hole.

Watney didn't chance it this time around.

His drive on No. 18 was down the middle, he fired an 8-iron over the corner of the lake and sank his 12-foot birdie putt for a two-shot win 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.’”

In other happenings at Doral, two Butch Harmon disciples fought it out down the stretch, a Dane and an Italian held up the flag for the European Tour and Luke Donald posted another solid finish. That was part of what came out of the WGC-Cadilliac Championship. . . oh, and Tiger Woods was here, as well.

1.) Backdoor Top 10

Tiger Woods made strides at Doral, but his most impressive move was on Sunday when he shot a 6-under 66, his best score in a PGA Tour event since shooting 65 at the Deutsche Bank Championship last September.

With seven birdies and a lone bogey, Woods played like the Woods of old and showed form just before the first major of the year, which is less than a month away.

“I hit a lot of good golf shots and when I did mis‑hit one, I knew what the fix was right away, boom and I got right back on my run of hitting good shots again,” Woods said of getting more comfortable with his swing.

His top-10 finish was his first in the U.S. since the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach

Now it’s off to the Tavistock Cup and likely Bay Hill before Woods makes the trip down Magnolia Lane.

2.) Oh well, just another top 10

Matt Kuchar has played in seven events in 2011 and this week recorded his fifth top 10 – his 17th since the beginning of the 2010 season.

But yet with all those chances Kuchar has only won one time, in a playoff last year over Martin Laird at The Barclays.

“I’m not there yet,” Kuchar said of the possibility of getting frustrated by not winning. “I’m really pleased with the progress I’m making. My golf game is so much better and it continues to improve. I feel like it just gets better and better and I think as golfers you try to improve from last year – you try to improve from last week and I feel like I’m on that track.”

In shooting a 1-under 71 on Sunday, Kuchar had a three-putt on the par 4, 11th hole. Ranked No. 5 in three-putt avoidance on the PGA Tour with a 1.06 percent average, the three-putt was only his fifth this year and dropped Kuchar one shot out of the lead.

3.) The Blue Pussycat

For 50 years the PGA Tour has been coming to Doral, but this year it became very obvious that the venue has a hard time holding up to the best players in the world. The scoring average this week was 71.477, half a stroke under-par, but that included very windy conditions on Friday, which skewed the results.

Is it possible that Doral needs to bring Ray Floyd back?

4.) Looking ahead

Next on the PGA Tour schedule is the Transitions Championship at Innisbrook. Unlike the filed at Doral, the field at the Copperhead course will have only three of this week’s top 14 in attendance. Winner Nick Watney, Martin Laird and Jonathan Byrd will make the trip across Florida to just compete outside Tampa.

It’s possible more of the top players will be at Augusta this week then Tampa.

5.) Finally some speedy play

Anthony Kim and Jeff Overton were paired together for the second straight day Sunday. The only thing is, if you blinked, you missed them.

The pair played in 2 hours and 40 minutes Saturday but were actually much quicker in Round 4, a blistering 2 hours and 6 minutes.

Granted, neither player had much on the line; they were merely trying to get things done. But it’s not as if they chopped it up. Kim shot 68-72, Overton 73-73, and those were far better scores then they put up Thursday and Friday when play was slower and more methodical.

Kim wound up in 60th place at 6 over. Overton was 10 over, dead last in the field of 66. readers: We value your input and welcome your comments, but please be respectful in this forum.