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Watney is the ace of Augusta

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From page B1 | April 11, 2013 |

Masters Golf

DHS graduate Nick Watney retrieves his ball after a hole-in-one on the ninth hole during the Masters par-3 competition on Wednesday. The Masters begins Thursday. AP photo

Special to The Enterprise

Davis High graduate Nick Watney has made a hole-in-one at The Masters. Unfortunately, it was one day too soon as it came during the annual par-3 contest on Wednesday at Augusta National’s much smaller par-3 course.

The former Blue Devil ended the competition tied for first place with Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Ted Potter Jr. and Ernie Els, before Potter Jr. ended up winning on the second playoff hole.

Watney’s ace came on the finishing ninth hole. It landed past the hole and rolled back for several seconds before disappearing into the cup.

But, after his chest-bumping reaction with caddie Chad Reynolds and playing partners Jason Day and Webb Simpson, Watney may want to work on his celebration if he plans on winning the Masters, which begins Thursday.

“Yeah, it was definitely not planned,” Watney said of Wednesday’s impromptu celebration. “I’m sure we looked like fools, but it was fun.”

Fun indeed for the Dixon native who had parents Brent and Debbie in attendance along with his sister Kristen, who had taken a red-eye to get to the event in time to see his special shot. Brent Watney was certainly a proud father on Wednesday, noting that a Masters has never been won by the player who captures the par-3 contest that week.

“It’s perfect,” he said. “Get an ace but don’t win. What could be better? And on the ninth hole, the last hole.”

Dad has seen Nick hit only one other hole-in-one in person — at Spyglass Hill in Carmel during a Callaway Invitational event. This one, coming at Augusta, was even more special:

“I’m going to save it,” Nick Watney said of his lucky golf ball, “Not quite sure what I’m going to do exactly, but I’ll save it.”

As Watney prepares for his sixth Masters, he will be taking on a tough Augusta National course that plays as one of the longest of the season at 7,435 yards. His best finish to date is a tie for seventh in the 2010 Masters, won that year by Mickelson.

After Wednesday, Watney is certainly happy about one aspect of his game going into the first major of 2013:

“I guess my wedge game is pretty good. I’m looking forward to the tournament.”

Watney teed off this morning with Steve Stricker and Ernie Els at 9:13 a.m.

Another ace might be too much to ask, but the 1999 DHS graduate will certainly settle for a win.

— Garrett Johnston is a freelance golf writer based in Sacramento. He has been covering the PGA Tour for the past eight years, and has followed Watney closely for the past three.

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