It’s actually his 11th full season out here, but after a quiet 2013-14 season in which he posted only a pair of top 10s in 25 events, lasted only one leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs and plummeted outside the top 100 in the world, Watney can’t help but feel as though he’s starting over.
“It just feels like a clean slate,” he said at the Humana Challenge, where he is two shots back at the halfway point. “Last year was not really what I have become accustomed to and not how I want to play, so I had a longer break than I normally do in the offseason (this is his first start since Mayakoba) and my game feels great, and I’m really excited just to start fresh this year and see what I can do.”
Watney has been working with Todd Anderson for the past year and a half, and the 33-year-old’s long game hasn’t been the problem – he was ranked inside the top 15 in both total driving and ball-striking. His work around the greens was another matter, as he regressed to 115th.
This week, he has been pouring them in from everywhere, however, needing just 20 putts during a second-round 64 on PGA West’s Nicklaus Course.
“I’m putting a lot better,” he said. “You can hit it really good, but if you don’t make anything, you’ll shoot around par.”
Watney, who less than four years ago was ranked as high as No. 10 in the world, is now No. 140. His last win came in fall 2012, at the CIMB Classic.
Since then, he and wife Amber have welcomed their first child, Harper, who is 10 months. Like any new parent, he’s learning how to balance work and home life.
“I want to be involved, as involved as I can in helping my wife raise her, but there’s also golf — if you don’t put in the time, you’re not going to get the results,” he said. “It’s learning sometimes that if you only have a few hours, you can make them really good, quality hours, and that’s better than maybe five or six not as intense. So it’s just time management.”