Blog: Watney's driver, putter are the difference

Nick Watney pumps his fist after making a putt on the fourth hole in the final round of the AT&T National golf tournament at Aronimink Golf Club, Sunday, July 3, 2011, in Newtown Square, Pa.

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Nick Watney shot 128 on the weekend in winning the AT&T National. There are plenty of single-digit handicappers who do the same – for 27 holes. As for Watney, he played the last 27 in 12 under par and didn’t make a bogey.

Watney’s brilliance was tied for two clubs, driver and putter. That’s often the cause when examining the fabric of a winning formula.

He led the field in putting after making a putter change. His makes weren’t just birdie putts from decent range; he also saved par three times from 17 feet or longer on the front nine Sunday.

Watney had a beautiful week off the tee as well. Much has been made of Rory McIlroy’s long, straight driving. McIlroy is nicknamed BMW, as in the Ultimate Driving Machine. Well, Watney is of the same ilk.

At the AT&T, he ranked fourth in distance and T-10 in fairways hit, an uncommon combination, while winning for the second time this year.

His form and confidence, of course, bode well for him at next week’s British Open. Not only is he tied for the most top-10 finishes on this year’s PGA Tour, but he tied for seventh last year at the British.

As he has been rising up golf’s ladder, Watney has demonstrated a gear rare for even many top players. He finds a way to go stupid low.

In the past nine months, Watney has shot 27 or 28 for nine holes three times on Tour. He had a 27 Saturday at the AT&T and 28 in the fourth round of the Farmers Insurance. At last year’s Tour Championship, he shot 28 on the back nine of the third round and 30 on the front nine of the fourth. Not only did he shoot 58 for those 18 holes, but he went 14 under for 20 holes during one stretch.

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