DHS graduate Nick Watney lines up a putt during the third round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Watney played well earlier in the tournament but struggled on Sunday to finish 40th. AP photo

Pro Sports

Playing close to home doesn’t translate to success for Watney

By From page B1 | February 15, 2012

Nick Watney is coming off a middle-of-the-pack finish at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am last weekend in Pebble Beach.

The 1999 Davis High graduate had high hopes for the tournament, which is contested closer to his hometown of Dixon than any other event on the PGA Tour. Watney married his wife Amber at Pebble Beach and was a regular on the course during his amateur years.

“They gave me a spot here (Pebble Beach) before I was even on the (PGA) Tour, so Iʼve played here more than any other venue,” Watney said.

Watney even showed some signs of brilliance in the way he started the tournament, playing the first 11 holes at 7-under par on the Spyglass Hill course. The pro-am incorporates three golf courses: Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and Monterey Peninsula Country Club, and Spyglass is generally considered the hardest of the three.

He finished that opening round at 6-under and stayed in quiet contention through much of the weekend. But after his final round, Watney was clearly disappointed with his finish — a final-day 75 — and tying for 40th overall.

“Iʼm not really fired up right now about anything regarding golf,” Watney said as he walked off the 18th hole on Sunday at Pebble. “Iʼm playing very poorly and itʼs just a bit frustrating.

“It’s different week to week. Sometimes you can find something to help you get out of (a high round), and sometimes you don’t. (Sunday) was the latter. I guess it just comes down to having to keep working hard to work your way out.”

Though Amber Watney was not with Nick at Pebble Beach this year — she was on a humanitarian trip to Uganda — Nick’s parents Brent and Deb were there to support their son, who had to withdraw from the Phoenix Open the previous week due to illness.

“Funny thing about golf,” Brent Watney said recently. “You never know exactly how rest will affect your game.”

It seemed like a few days away from competition had helped in those early holes on Spyglass Hill, named after Robert Louis Stevensonʼs hill in his famous novel “Treasure Island,” but eventually Nick Watney was unhappy with his finish.

He hopes to turn thing around as the PGA Tour goes to Hollywood for this weekʼs Northern Trust Open. Watney will try to win the final event in his home state before the PGA returns to California for the U.S. Open in June.

Notes: Watney is 14th in the World Golf Rankings and and 64th in the FedEx Cup standings. … Phil Mickelson won his fourth AT&T Pro-Am and his final-day pairing with Tiger Woods was a vintage treat for golf fans. Woods finished tied for 15th as he, like Watney, shot a disappointing 75 in his final round. … Former UC Davis golfer Austin Graham played his way into the Northern Trust Open on Tuesday. Graham shot a 69 in the open qualifier and then emerged from a 4-for-2 playoff to grab a spot in the PGA Tour event.

— Garrett Johnston is a sports writer and video producer based in Sacramento. He has been covering the PGA Tour for the past seven years, and has followed Watney closely for the past two.

Garrett Johnston

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