Watney Pulls Off Big Victory at The Barclays

Nick Watney fired a 2-under 69 to win The Barclays, the first of four tournaments in the PGA Tour's season-ending FedEx Cup Playoffs. Watney ended up at 10-under 274 at a tough Bethpage Black course in Farmingdale, N.Y., for a three-stroke victory.

After carding a birdie and a bogey through seven holes, Watney birdied the par-3 eighth to take the lead and he held on from there. The rest of the way the 31-year-old from Sacramento posted three more birdies - including a capper at the 18th - and three bogeys to finish three shots ahead of Brandt Snedeker (70) and four in front of defending champion Dustin Johnson (68) and 54-hole leader Sergio Garcia.

In addition to winning $1.44 million, Watney jumped into the lead in the Playoffs as the top-100 points leaders head to next week's Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston.

"I feel amazing," said Watney, now a five-time Tour winner who got his first title of the year Sunday. "It's been a long season. It was a really long round. It wasn't always pretty but to win on this course is amazing . . . I'm just super-excited." (See below for Watney's full post-round interview.)

Garcia could only muster one birdie which, along with five bogeys - including a foreboding one on the opening hole - gave him a 4-over 75. The 32-year-old Spaniard admitted later that Sunday was simply not his day. "Obviously I didn't play the way I know I can play, or I was playing. I hit some good shots, but you know, I hit a couple bad shots at the wrong moments. And unfortunately I just wasn't feeling comfortable.

"I struggled a little bit with, you know, some of the shots, and you know, it's kind of simple as that. I obviously struggled with the speed of the greens," added Garcia, who notched his first American victory in four years in last week's Wyndham Championship.

"They were much slower today. Even though they still looked very brown, you know, they put a bit of water on them to not lose them, and you know, you could tell the difference, and I just struggled to get the speed of the greens early on when I had three or four good chances for birdies."

Snedeker gave kudos to Bethpage Black. "It was obviously a good week, not a great week," said the Nashville native. "But the golf course was . . . the winner this week. It was so tough to play the last two days. The greens were just as firm as I can remember on Tour; the fairways were as firm as I can remember on Tour. Just a great test of golf, and more importantly, a great test of how mentally strong you could stay on the course over the last 36 holes.

"You knew you were just going to get some bad breaks no, way around it. Did a great job of that, and Nick obviously played great today, to shoot under par today is a good score. A little frustrated with the way I drove the ball on the back nine. Put myself behind the 8 ball. Besides that, it was a pretty good day."

Sharing fifth at 5-under 279 were Canada's Graham DeLaet, who posted Sunday's low round, a stellar 6-under 65, Louis Oosthuizen (70), Lee Westwood (70) and Brian Harman (71).

Finishing alone in ninth at 280 was Aussie Greg Chalmers, while tied for 10th another shot back were Bud Cauley (67), Luke Donald (70), Bubba Watson (71), David Hearn (71), Tom Gillis (72), William McGirt (72), Tim Clark (72), Bob Estes (74) and Kevin Stadler, who began Sunday three behind Garcia but closed with a 75.

Tied for 19th were first-round leader Padraig Harrington, who opened with a 64 but shot 75s in the second and third rounds. The three-time major winner rebounded with a 68 to reach 282 along with J.B. Holmes (69), Josh Teater (70) and two Aussies, Geoff Ogilvy (71) and John Senden (74).

No. 1-ranked Rory McIlroy posted a 72 to end up in T-24 at 283 with several others. The 23-year-old Northern Irishman echoed the thoughts of many players who had difficulty on Black's slick poa annua greens. "I felt like I hit the ball - I hit the ball very well from tee to green. I think my putting just sort of let me down on the weekend a bit, but I think everyone was finding it tough out there on the greens.

"They are not as smooth as we are used to at times. They were a little firm, they were a little bumpy. But I felt like I played well enough to be in contention, anyway, and you know, the putter just wasn't working throughout the week. So I think that was the biggest disappointment of the week."

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson both carded 5-over 76s to fall into a tie for 38th at 1-over 285. Woods had three birdies, but those weren't enough to offset six bogeys and a double on the par-4 12th. Mickelson had similar crooked numbers, with two birdies and seven bogeys in the final round.

Another major winner who struggled over the weekend was 49-year-old Vijay Singh, who after opening with a promising 68 and 67, finished with a 76 and 75 to end up T-46 at 2-over 286, one shot ahead of fellow major winner Ernie Els, who shot a 75 Sunday.

For all the scores, visit http://www.pgatour.com/r/leaderboard.

After signing his impressive scorecard, Watney met with reporters for the following Q&A. In addition to discussing his victory, Watney said he was going to head into the Big Apple to celebrate with his wife and some Tour friends.

MODERATOR: We would like to welcome our Barclays 2012 champion, Nick, you waited a long time this season, but you made your first win of the year a big one and now are back to the top of the FedEx Cup rankings. What's your general reaction, from shaking your head in disbelief the whole ride over here.

NICK WATNEY: I'm just very, very happy right now. It's been not quite the year I would have wanted, but this really - you know, this really makes it all forgotten. And today was - this course, winning a tournament is hard, but winning out here and against this field was very, very difficult. I'm kind of still on a high right now. I'm still kind of ready to play the next hole. I was just trying to stay very in the moment out there, and crossing the holes off after I got done; I'm kind of ready to - I'm not really sure what to do right now. Just so excited and very, very proud.

Q. Just curious, did you know the ball was plugged at 16, and if so, what was your reaction?

NICK WATNEY: I thought it was. You know, that was definitely one of the worst shots I hit of the day, and there was quite a bit of sand in the face of the trap, so I assumed that it was plugged. So I just said - I had a look at the board and I had a three shot lead. So just try to make a five. I had one plugged on Thursday and ended up making a double. So really, just make a bogey there; I was able to get it in in five shots.

Q. Pretty timely win in that you're kind of assured having a go at the Tour Championship and you're probably in The Ryder Cup conversation. Which one is on your mind more?

NICK WATNEY: Honestly, you know, I think coming here, I felt like I think over the - since the Playoffs have been formatted this way, this tournament has proven, you know, to be as far as getting into stuff next year and positioning yourself for the FedEx Cup, this tournament has proven to be maybe the biggest of the four, just because you play well here, you can move so far. I think Heath Slocum made 124 a few years ago, and wins and goes to first. I'm proud to be going to Atlanta. I'm proud to be going to Kapalua. I think that's something that I would love to do with my family and my wife obviously. So the Ryder Cup is out of my control. I obviously would love to be on the team. I haven't performed how I would have liked this year as far as making that team, but it's out of my control, so all I can do is try to get ready to play next week and see where the chips fall.

Q. Were you thinking about the Ryder Cup coming in here and are you thinking about it now?

NICK WATNEY: I'm thinking much more now than I was coming in, because you know, coming in here, I didn't deserve to be in the conversation, because I had not played my way in. Someone told me that Davis said he wanted a hot player, and we still have a week to go, but like I said, I'd love to be on the team. But I'm not really concerned with it just because it's out of my control.

Q. You hit the first 15 greens; that doesn't seem like an easy thing to do on this course. How did you manage that?

NICK WATNEY: Well, I'm always aware of that to be honest with you, because I proved that even when I wasn't on the green, it wasn't a sure par. I've been working hard. I feel like I'm swinging the club well. And you know, my caddie, Chad, he just said, it's a season; it's not one week or two weeks here and there. So just keep your head down. He was awesome out there. I have to definitely thank Butch and Claude Harmon. They have stuck with me throughout this season, where I didn't really play like I would like in the first half. So I have a great team around me, and just very, very happy.

Q. You mentioned your struggles throughout this year and you've been talking about it throughout the week, but can you sort of take us through exactly what you've struggled with? Has it been technical? Has it been the mental side of the game? And how would you overcome that this week?

NICK WATNEY: It's been a bit of both actually. I didn't strike the ball very well at the beginning of the season. Probably first, you know, three or four months of the year, really, I didn't hit it very well, and I didn't putt as consistently as I did last year. Mentally, I definitely started pressing a little bit. You know, Thursday, Friday, Saturday rounds became really, really important to me and like Doug and I talked about on Saturday, you definitely want to play well, but there's so much more golf to be played, and I kind of lost sight of that.

So it's been a bit of both to be honest. And this week, as I said, a friend of mine, Sam Reeves, hooked me up with a club professional, Darrell Kestner, and I'm learning a little bit about him. He's an amazing club pro, but he gave me some putting tips this week and it's the best I've putted all year by far. So I definitely need to give him a big thank you.

Q. I was going to ask you how much of your winning percentage are you going to send to Darrell Kestner?

NICK WATNEY: We haven't talked about that but I owe Darrell a lot and we'll have a great conversation.

Q. What was it that he kind of got you on the right track with?

NICK WATNEY: Mostly it was my setup. My setup, I was well back on my heels and the putter shaft was very flat, and that caused me to kind of stroke in to out, and he got me a little bit more on the balls of my feet and the putter tracks much better now.

Q. Can you talk about when you backed off the approach shot on 16 and also 17, backing off of that?

NICK WATNEY: 16, there was a noise up by the green, I'm not sure what it was. Someone dropped a - I don't know what it was. But I backed off there. I'm not sure if I ever really got back into the shot like I needed to. And then 17, I don't remember backing off. Sergio was up first, and you know, probably need to give him an assist there, because he hit a big 7, and I was between 6 and 7, and once I saw where his ball landed, I knew I needed a 7 iron. That's a really tough hole when you're coming down the stretch, and I was pleased with a 3.

Q. Sergio bogeyed 10 and 11, and then you did the same on 11 and 12. What did you tell yourself at that point to say, hey, got to close this thing out?

NICK WATNEY: I just reminded myself that I was still two clear, and I was playing really well. You know, 11, I really tried to hit that putt soft. The greens were so fast, and I really, really tried to hit it soft. I hit it six feet by. 12, I just hit a poor putt, and 3 putted those. But they weren't really - I wouldn't say they were like shaky bogeys. They were just kind of - golf course is difficult, and unfortunately I made a couple mistakes. But I told myself, I was two clear, and the birdie at 14 was huge, just hit a nice shot and had a pretty easy putt. To hit it where I wanted was big for my confidence.

Q. 14, what did you hit in there?

NICK WATNEY: I think it was playing maybe 161 - 165, and it was playing four on top of the little ledge back there. I was trying to hit a little 8 iron to the bottom of the hill thinking it would take one bounce. I hit a really nice shot. You know, that's why I play the game out here, is to be nervous and to pull off a shot like that was a great feeling.

Q. Can you just talk about how the crowd embraced you the last couple of holes here?

NICK WATNEY: Yeah, it was awesome. You know, they were very enthusiastic. You get different crowds in different regions, and New York lived up to its name as far as they were pretty loud and boisterous. But it was really, really fun. I don't think they got too far out of line, you know. Sergio, he had a really - 17 was really hard to pull the club and they kind of got him there, but other than that, they were pretty good and it was a blast to play in front of them.

Q. Just wondering during all your struggles this year, how much has your wife supported you and been a rock for you? Standing on the 18th green, she was pretty nervous while you were standing over that putt.

NICK WATNEY: Well, I mean, this life is - we get to do a lot of amazing things and go to a lot of amazing places but it can also be a grind with the travel, and she's been exactly the same. Last year we had a great season, my best on Tour, and this year, my golf has not been great, but she's been exactly the same, I know what I'm getting when I go home, and obviously I love her very much, and it was great to hug her coming off the last green.

Q. Can you talk about 8 and the swing there and what you felt as you went to the 9th tee; did you feel you had it under control?

NICK WATNEY: Well, I feel like with that pin in the front there, the wind was kind of swirling and I think they want you to hit it in the water. That's why they put the flag in the front. The mistake is short. So I hit a really good shot, sort of three quarter 7 iron. I think Sergio hit 8, because he switched clubs and hit 8, and I think he tried to hit it a little bit hard and hit it a bit to the left. That putt was very quick, had a lot of break, and was really just trying to get it down there and about halfway there, didn't look really good. As far as the swing, with what happened yesterday, wasn't too concerned with how we stood for the event, because 9, 10,11, 12, are such difficult holes that I kind of focused on my job and kind of felt like if I can do that, then some good things could happen. But as far as the swing, looking back, it was great, but it wasn't - I didn't think about it too much to be honest with you.

Q. Can you talk about attacking that 18th flag and how it felt birdieing after bogeying twice there?

NICK WATNEY: I was up by two. Brandt had just made a nice birdie to get to 7, as well. So the green there is so narrow, so skinny, that I kind of felt like I had to go at it. There was no playing safe. It was just a full 9 iron, and kind of told myself to just let it go, release this shot, and have no regrets. To make birdie at the last was awesome. I couldn't have drew it up any better. I'll definitely remember New York for a long time.

Q. How much do you think this quality win on this course will do for your career and your confidence?

NICK WATNEY: Well, I hope it does a lot. I'm very - I feel like sort of validation as far as the direction I'm going, and I wasn't aware I hit 17 greens, but I'm very pleased how I drove the ball coming down the stretch, and hitting that many greens; and even though I had a lot of 3 putts, I putted really, really well. So any time you win, you know, it's great for your confidence, but I haven't been in this situation a lot recently, so it's nice to - and obviously with Sergio, you know it's a battle and he's going to keep coming. Just so thrilled and very proud of this week.

Q. What changed more in the last two months, your swing or your attitude?

NICK WATNEY: I would say it's a tie. My swing - everybody that plays knows that sometimes the littlest thing can just click. I feel like as far as swinging the club, I'm very, very pleased with everything. But my attitude, you know, my caddie said that - sometimes I ask him, where do I lose the most shots to the top players. And he said, without a doubt, it's your attitude. So just getting down, lingering on bad things, and then making more mistakes. So I think if this doesn't - if this isn't proof enough to myself that staying positive is a good thing, then I don't know what could be.

Q. Yesterday, like everyone else, you expressed some concern about the way the greens were trending. What did you think of how they were today and what did that do for you?

NICK WATNEY: Well, I thought the greens yesterday were - I mean, I really thought they were close to being dead to be honest. I think they did put some water on them, and I just think that firm and fast is great, but you should be able to - if you hit a good shot, I think you should be able to get the ball within 10 to 15 feet. And yesterday on some of the greens, that was just impossible. I think they did a good job; there still weren't a ton of low scores, so it wasn't easy. But I thought they did a good job setting up the course.

Q. We talked about this yesterday, but given the fact that you came into this event ranked No. 1 in points, and didn't really make much of an impact, did you feel like there was some unfinished business in the Playoffs coming into this year?

NICK WATNEY: Well, with the way things were going, I don't know if any would have expected this this week. But you know, Bill Haas proved last year that if you make it to Atlanta, you have a chance, 24th or whatever. The way they have the FedEx Cup formatted, it's pretty neat. You need to be in Atlanta. So I wanted to have a good week. And to be No. 1 now is amazing. I think Tiger has three wins. So, is it just? Is it right? I don't know. But I'm happy to be No. 1, and I'm really excited for the weeks upcoming, the three weeks coming up.

Q. How does Nick Watney celebrate a big win like this?

NICK WATNEY: (Smiles) I don't know. The night is young, Doug. The night is young. (Laughter). I think my wife and I are going into New York tonight. We are going to meet up with Adam Scott and Tim Clark, Charley Hoffman, and we are just going to - you know, we are just going to try to take it all in. Still, like I said, still pretty amped up, and I'm so excited for everything that comes with this. But mostly I'm just proud that I was able to pull it off. I'm not sure what we're going to do but I know we're going to have a good time doing it.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.