Saturday afternoon saw the return of the monster that lives at the Bethpage State Park Black Course. You could see it on the greens, the brown spots. That was the monster that showed itself in the 2002 and 2009 US Opens. They say, the greenskeeper was responsible because he was given the wrong weather report, and didn’t put enough water on the greens to kill the monster.
Greens that were running at 12 on the Stimpmeter on Thursday and Friday turned into 14 plus by Saturday afternoon and continuing, albiet somewhat better on Sunday at the The Barclays, and what had been some pretty low scores all of a sudden ballooned into large scores.
Nick Watney, after a terrible year where he found himself in 49th position on the FedEx Cup points list, and 39th in the Ryder Cup standings, also found himself only two strokes off the lead Saturday night at the Barclays. He would be playing the final round in the final group with leader Sergio Garcia. His fortune would change again on the par three 8th hole.
The Spaniard, who was fresh off of his first PGA Tour win in four years at The Wyndham, hit his tee shot long into the trap behind the green, and Watney, now only trailing by one stroke, made the green, and only 15 feet away from a birdie. Garcia’s shot from the trap didn’t stand a chance of getting close, and rolled to the fron of the green, some 35-40 feet away. Garcia made a good lag putt, but made bogey just the same. Watney drained the birdie putt for a two shot swing, and lead he would not relinquish until he lifted the trophy on the 18th hole.
Garcia would bogey three more holes on the back nine, shoot a four over 75 and finish in a tie with Dustin Johnson for third place. Watney on the other hand, shoot even par from there on to the end, and finish with a two under 69 on the day, and a three stroke win over Brandt Snedeker.
After birdies at 10 and 14, and two consecutive bogeys at 11 and 12, Nick Watney would get a scare at the 16th hole, where he hit a solid 330 yard drive, and was sitting in the middle of the fairway with a four stroke lead. He blocked an eight iron that he was trying to ease up on, and plugged himself in the green-side bunker on the short side of the green. He got out of the trap long and made bogey to give Sergio some hope. It was not an opportunity that Garcia could capitalize on.
After a solid par at 17, Watney played the 18th hole with perfection, making a birdie, and shutting the door on Brandt Snedeker who had also made birdie at 18, and got to within two strokes. Snedeker was waiting in the clubhouse at -7 in case Watney stumbled again.
With their finishes at The Barclays, Nick Watney and Brandt Snedeker will roll into The Deutche Bank next Friday at TPC Boston with a sizable lead in the FedEx points over Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. They should both have gotten a good look from Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love II before he makes his picks early next month.
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