5 Things: Watney wins fourth PGA Tour title
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. – Nick Watney got into the spirit of the holiday weekend, picking up his fourth career PGA Tour victory – and second title of the season – at the AT&T National.
With Rickie Fowler quickly falling out of contention – he finished with a 4-over 74 after entering the final round tied for the lead – and K.J. Choi picking up a double bogey on No. 15, Watney was steady during a closing 4-under 66 to claim the nearly $1.2 million first-place check.
Watney won the World Golf Championship at Doral in March and moves to No. 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He also leads the FedEx Cup standings and PGA Tour money list for the first time.
Choi made a charge on the back nine and caught Watney with a 35-foot birdie putt on the 14th. But on the next hole, Choi made double bogey from a terrible spot in a bunker.
Here are five things to take away from the weekend at Aronimink Golf Club:
1. Mr. Consistent: No one should be surprised by Watney’s second victory of 2011, with AT&T National being his eighth top-10 finish of the season and 11th top-25 result. He has made the cut in 12 of 14 events and sits atop the FedEx Cup standings while moving into the top 10 in the World Ranking. Watney has been particularly hot over his past two tournaments, carding seven rounds in the 60s, including a 62 on Saturday at Aronimink. Watney has already tied his personal best for top-10 finishes in a season (8 in 2010).
2. Fowler’s follies: Rickie Fowler’s day was all but finished after his second hole Sunday, when he carded a double-bogey 6. But his bogey on No. 4 gave Watney plenty of breathing room. Fowler’s final-round collapse isn’t something new; his final round scoring average in 2011 was 71.60 (112th on Tour) entering the AT&T National. Fowler has only two top-10s in 2011 (WGC-Cadillac and WGC-Match Play), and his T-13 finish this week gives him eight top-25 finishes.
3. Choi to the world: K.J. Choi continues to impress on Tour, picking up his third top-3 performance and sixth top-10 finish of the season. While he missed the cut at the U.S. Open, Choi has been in the top 10 in five of his past 10 tournaments, including a victory at the Players Championship. Choi is a statistical aberration, ranking 117th in driving distance (285.1 yards), 45th in final round scoring average (70.60), 106th in total birdies (162) and 70th in greens in regulation (65.34 percent). But his ability to get out of trouble (6th in sand saves) and put it close from 175 yards and in has kept him close to the top of the leaderboard.
4. A Webb of excellence: Webb Simpson doesn’t grab many headlines, but he should. The Wake Forest product has five top 10s on Tour this season, including a T-8 this week at AT&T National. He came into the week at 14th in the FedEx Cup standings, having earned $2,286,892 before the AT&T. His consistency on Tour this season is evident in his stats:
• 3rd on Tour with a 69.63 scoring average
• 11th on Tour with a 69.46 scoring average in the final round
• 5th on Tour with 4.42 birdies per round
• 3rd on Tour in back-nine scoring average at 34.86
5. Yes, he can: Patrick Cantlay, a sophomore at UCLA, continues to show that he might be ready for the PGA Tour a bit earlier that many expected. Cantlay fired a final-round, 3-under 67 to tie for 20th (3 under). Cantlay made six birdies on Sunday, while he carded only seven the first three days. He had nothing worse than a bogey over the four rounds. He was 19th in putts per green in regulation (1.771) and T-21 in putts per round, with 29.8. The finish at Aronimink was his best of the season (T-21 at the U.S. Open and T-24 at the Travelers, where he led after the second round).