Birthday boy: Watney opens Zurich in 69


AVONDALE, La. – This could be an epic 32nd birthday, if Nick Watney so chose.

He opened with a 3-under 69 Thursday at the Zurich Classic, so the mood will be light.

He has a late tee time Friday (12:30 p.m.), so no need to set the alarm.

And Bourbon Street is only 20 minutes away, a temptation so great for players that some opt for self-imposed curfews.  

“I got up at 5 this morning,” said Watney, who is five shots off Ricky Barnes’ lead, “so tonight will probably be pretty tame.”

When Watney, then 25, won here in 2007 for his first career title, he revealed that he hadn’t partied in the French Quarter or dined at New Orleans’ world-class restaurants.

Far from it. He ate at Subway each night.

But Watney may be wise to pace himself here, too – he ranks outside the top 120 in scoring average in Rounds 3 and 4.

A winner last year at The Barclays, he has only one top 10 this season as he breaks in his new Nike equipment. This was an encouraging start on a course that he has enjoyed some success.

“It’s always good to celebrate a birthday,” he said, “and to shoot a decent round makes it even better.”