“I feel great,” Watney said on Tuesday at Silverado Resort & Spa. “I’ve never really been injured before, so it was a long year just watching and sitting on the sidelines, but now I’m back and super excited.”
Watney said the majors were the most difficult to miss and that he spent a good amount of his rehabilitation watching golf on TV.
“I wanted to try and stay close and see if I could learn from afar,” he said. “It’s been a while since I’ve been in contention, so just to watch and see how guys handle it because you have a different perspective when you’re away from the game for a while.”
Watney said he began hitting 9-irons in mid-July and started playing practice rounds in mid-August. Over the last few weeks he started to walk when he played at home instead of riding a golf cart and worked his way up to four consecutive days to prepare for the Safeway Open, which is something of a home game for Watney who was born in nearby Sacramento, Calif.
“I tried to be real careful about not doing anything too quickly,” Watney said. “Once I knew I was out for the entire year I just wanted to be as smart as I could be. I didn’t want to have to miss a day because I did too much the day before.”
Tiger Woods was scheduled to return this week after a 14-month layoff from multiple back procedures, but withdrew from the event on Monday.