Special to The Enterprise
Nick Watney is on fire, and it’s put him in the red.
The Davis High graduate fired a 4-under par 68 on Saturday at Augusta National, improving to 1-under after three rounds of The Masters. By day’s end, he trailed co-leaders Angel Cabrera of Argentina and Brandt Snedeker by six strokes as they both finished 7-under par.
Without a doubt the most impressive stretch of Watney’s round, and any other player on the golf course Saturday for that matter, was his 5-under-par performance on holes 12 through 16. It included an eagle on the par-5 15th.
In fact, Watney took firm advantage of his length off the tee and went 5-under par on the par 5’s Saturday.
On the 15th hole, Watney had gone long with his second shot, but his eagle attempt from the fringe proved impressive.
“I made it from just off the back, (from where) you just want to try to 2‑putt it,” Watney said. “So for it to go in was a bonus.”
Putting is a part of Watney’s game that was heading in a good direction on Saturday.
“It’s nice when you read a putt and it does exactly what you think and it’s just rolling perfect speed,” said the former Blue Devil. “That’s when the game’s really fun.”
After carding a frustrating 6-over par 78 on Thursday to start the tournament, Watney not only made the cut, but has an outside chance at making some noise on Sunday at Augusta.
“After Thursday, it’s a bit extra-special to be under par for the tournament as of right now,” Watney said, “And I’m really looking forward to hopefully a good day (Sunday) and the rest of the season.”
Watney’s ability to knock off strokes in bunches on the back nine left him feeling good about his game.
“I finally was able to make something happen on the back,” Watney said, “I’m pretty excited to be in this position.”
If Watney is to make a ferocious comeback for his first green jacket and major championship, he is going to have to a post a low round early and hope it is good enough to beat the likes of four-time winner Tiger Woods (3-under), the leaders and the other 13 players who stand between him and the title.
It is often said that the Masters doesn’t begin until the back nine on Sunday. And that’s right where Watney has been at his best.
— 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.