Watney Wins First in New Orleans

By Associated PressApril 22, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 Zurich ClassicAVONDALE, La. -- Nick Watney won the Zurich Classic for his first PGA TOUR title, closing with a 3-under 69 on Sunday for a three-stroke victory over Ken Duke.
 
Watney, the 25-year-old Californian in his third year on the TOUR, had a 15-under 273 total at the TPC Louisiana. Duke, who also was seeking his first victory, shot a 70.
 
Nick Watney
Nick Watney is the fifth first-time winner on TOUR this season. (WireImage)
'I'm living a dream right now,' Watney said, wearing Mardi Gras beads as winners in New Orleans traditionally do. 'I've played in close to the last group sometimes, and I've seen guys go through it. But it's definitely more fun to actually do it. I'm trying to soak it all in.'
 
Watney, fifth in two tournaments last year, lost the lead when he missed a 3-foot par putt on the par-4 10th. He bounced back with a birdie on the par-5 11th and went in front for good with a birdie on the par-3 14th.
 
On the 14th, Duke's tee shot landed short and left of the green, his chip went 7 feet past the pin and he missed the par putt coming back to fall two shots behind.
 
Watney parred the final four holes, missing the fairway only once off the tee and hitting every green in regulation.
 
'I knew if I could get it to one coming to 18 I thought I had a chance, but he had two on me, and he played smart, and that's what you've got to do,' Duke said.
 
After Watney tapped in to seal the victory, his celebration was subdued. He held aloft both arms and hugged his caddie before clapping above his head in appreciation of the crowd.
 
Watney had never before teed off with the lead in the final round of a PGA TOUR event, and he hadn't slept as well as he usually does, waking up around 5:30 a.m.
 
He bogeyed Nos. 3 and 4, but then holed the shot of the tournament -- a 132-yard approach shot for an eagle on the par-4 fifth -- to pull back into a tie for the lead.
 
'I was definitely nervous to start out, but it's a good thing,' Watney said. 'I mean, any time you hole a shot there's a little luck involved, so it was definitely my week. I'm proud that I was able to handle it.'
 
Watney became the fifth first-time winner in the last six years at New Orleans' annual PGA TOUR event, joining Chris Couch (2006), Tim Petrovic (2005), Steve Flesch (2003) and K.J. Choi (2002). All of them won at English Turn except Watney and Petrovic, the only other winner at the TPC Louisiana, which hosted its first PGA TOUR event in 2005, only months before it was severely damage by Hurricane Katrina.
 
The course, its fairways flooded because of drain clogging debris that included 2,000 fallen trees, was closed for 10 months for $2 million in repairs to 30 acres of damaged turf.
 
But New Orleans seems to be kind to players who've never won, regardless of the course, in part because some the TOUR's top players often skip it.
 
Heading into the final round, 13-time winner Mark Calcavecchia was the only player in the top five with a previous victory. He started the day only three shots back, and appeared primed to close in on the lead when his second shot on the par-5 seventh hole landed just off the fringe. He botched his chip, however, leaving himself a 35-foot birdie putt that he narrowly missed.
 
While the other players in his group putted out, Calcavecchia stood on the front edge of the green, staring back at the seventh fairway and shaking his head.
 
He missed another birdie putt on No. 8 and two bogeys on the back nine put him out of contention. He shot a 71 to tie for fifth with Bubba Watson and Chris Stroud at 10 under.
 
TOUR rookie Anthony Kim had the best round of the day, a 65 -- one shot off the course record that fellow rookie Kyle Reifers set Thursday. The round of nine birdies and two bogeys left the 21-year-old Californian tied for third with John Mallinger at 11 under.
 
'I was so far back I really didn't have anything to lose, and I just fired at some pins and it worked out,' Kim said. 'My goal is to win out here, and until I do that, I'm just going to keep plugging away.'
 
Divots:
Reifers, who led after the first round and began the final round only four shots back, shot a 75 to tie for 24th. ... Officials estimated the final-round crowd at about 40,000. Recent tournaments, including the last one prior to Hurricane Katrina in the spring of 2005, were closer to 35,000.
 
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    McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com Q-School

    By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

    One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Web.com Tour Q-School.

    McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

    It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

    McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Web.com Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

    Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

    Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Web.com Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

    Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

    The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

    The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

    Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

    The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

    A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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    Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

    Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

    Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

    South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

    Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

    The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

     

     

    Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

    By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

    It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

    Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

    Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

    "We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."


    Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout


    Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

    Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.