Special to The Enterprise
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Playing in his seventh Masters, Davis High graduate Nick Watney is fighting to overcome a poor putting stroke this week. It’s an issue that’s especially compounded by the course’s undulating greens.
In his third round, Watney shot a 4-over 76 on a sunny and warm Saturday at Augusta National.
“It’s very disappointing,” Watney said. “I putted it just terrible, absolutely terrible. I hit the ball well enough to shoot a pretty nice round, but putting like this I’m not going to beat anybody. Hopefully, I can turn it around (Sunday) and shoot a good score.”
Watney has five three-putts on the week, accounting for 10 percent of the holes he’s played.
Saturday, the 32-year-old got off to a tough start with a double bogey on No. 1, and birdies on three and nine were not enough to offset three more bogeys on a front nine, resulting in a 3-over 39. Watney would finish the back nine at 1-over 37 for a 76 that serves as the worst round of his week.
“Twelve and 13, I hit it close and didn’t make them,” Watney said. “On 15, I had a decent chance and didn’t make it. A lot of inefficiency the last two days so it’s disappointing because I love this place and I would like to play well.”
The good news is, he’s enjoying having his 4-week-old daughter Harper at her first Masters. Being a first-time father has been a special experience for Watney.
“(Saturday night) I was holding her and I realized that I would wish it on everybody to experience that, just to have a little baby. It definitely takes your mind off a lot of things, it’s great.”
In the Watneys’ rental home this week, Nick’s wife Amber is doing most of the baby care. She is enjoying spending the time with her young daughter.
“It’s not easy on my sleep for the week but I am so happy that we have her,” Amber said.
Although the Watneys did not partake in the annual par-3 contest on Masters Wednesday, Watney foresees Harper helping Amber caddy for dad in that family friendly competition.
“Maybe next year when she’s 15 months old we’ll give a go at it,” Watney said. “If she can walk around with us and keep up then we’ll take her. Right now, she’s just too small. Amber would have a hard time carrying her and the clubs too.”
Having his daughter has given Watney perspective and empathy toward friends who were already parents.
“I talked to my friends that do have kids and as soon as you have one, you’re in the club and you know what people are talking about,” Watney said. “Before I had one I didn’t really know, I didn’t really understand when they would talk about ‘can we get home to see them?’ ”
— Garrett Johnston is a freelance golf writer based in Sacramento. He has been covering the PGA Tour for the past nine years, and has followed Watney closely for the past four.