Pro-am pair: Fresno St. player helped by Watney

Nick Watney during the PGA Championship

Nick Watney during the PGA Championship

KAPALUA, Hawaii – So, you’re thinking these PGA Tour guys don’t pay attention to their pro-am partners or take the days seriously? And you’re thinking the amateurs get only a framed photo and a few fancy hors d’oeuvres?

Well, meet Johnny Partridge, who might suggest you re-think those sentiments. It seems Partridge, a junior at Fresno State, owes his college golf opportunity to a chance pro-am round with Nick Watney at the 2010 SBS Championship at Kapalua.

At the time, Partridge was in his first year at the College of the Desert in Palm Desert, Calif., a young man with collegiate golf aspirations, though he concedes it was a challenge to navigate through those circles. Enter a family trip to Maui, a chance to play in the pro-am at the famed Plantation Course, and the good fortune of drawing Watney, like Patridge a Northern California kid who loves the San Francisco Giants.

“He was great to play with, and he told me he knew I could play Division I,” Partridge said. “That was important to hear.”

Now for good reason, Watney is partial to Fresno State. It’s his alma mater, and the head coach is his uncle, Mike Watney, so he didn’t have a doubt as to what he should do next. Sure that Partridge had enough talent, Watney called his uncle and told him about the young man with whom he played at the Plantation Course.

“Soon after (that pro-am), Coach Watney came out to watch one of my tournaments,” Partridge said. “It’s been a long road, but I appreciate where I am.”

And where is Partridge this week? Back in Maui, on break from Fresno State.

There was a light schedule in the fall, and he’s looking forward to a busy spring, so when his father, John, got another invite to play in the pro-am here, they jumped and Johnny figured it was a great way to keep his game sharp. And as fate would have it, guess who was available when they got their pick in the Wednesday night draw?

Yes, Watney.

“We couldn’t believe it, but we were happy to play with him again,” Johnny Partridge said.

And why not? Not only is Watney one of the most personable players on Tour, but he’s someone to whom Partridge owes a sincere measure of thanks. Thursday’s pro-am provided him that opportunity, too.

“He didn’t have to do that,” Partridge said. “He went above and beyond.”

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