Nick Watney salvaged a dismal season Sunday at The Barclays in Farmingdale, N.Y., with a victory that could not have come at a better time.
Watney turned a two-shot deficit against Sergio Garcia into a three-shot lead in a decisive four-hole stretch around the turn at Bethpage Black, and no one got closer than two shots. Watney made a 10-foot birdie putt on the last hole for a 2-under 69 to capture the opening playoff event for the FedEx Cup.
He wound up winning by three shots over Brandt Snedeker, who birdied the last hole for a 70. Garcia made bogey on the 18th for a 75.
The win means Watney goes to No. 1 in the FedEx Cup standings and is assured a shot at the $10 million prize at the Tour Championship next month. Perhaps more importantly, it could be a big step toward an event that doesn’t pay anything at all – the Ryder Cup.
Winning against one of the strongest fields of the year at least puts him in the conversation to be one of four captain’s picks for the Sept. 28-30 matches at Medinah. Davis Love III will announce his choices after next week’s playoff event outside Boston.
Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk are likely to be two of those picks, and the other two are suddenly wide open.
Snedeker, already under consideration, battled to the end on a warm day on Long Island. He made a 15-foot par putt on the 17th hole and closed with a birdie to be alone in second place. Complicating matters for Love is that Dustin Johnson shot 68 and tied for third, along with Garcia.
Watney, who won for the fifth time in his career, finished at 10-under 278.
Tiger Woods, six shots behind at the start of the day, never made a move. He alternated between bogeys and birdies until the sixth hole, and his round imploded on the back nine with a three-putt double bogey on the 12th, a poor wedge that led to bogey on the par-5 13th, and a tee shot on the par-3 14th that sailed over the green and one-hopped against the gallery. He closed with a 76 and tied for 38th.
Jay Don Blake won the Boeing Classic at Snoqualmie, Wash., for his third career Champions Tour title, beating Mark O’Meara with a birdie on the second hole of a playoff.
Playing the par-5 18th hole for the third time in less than an hour, Blake tapped in for birdie after O’Meara’s 15-foot birdie attempt missed on the low side of the hole. Blake and O’Meara also birdied the hole in regulation for matching 4-under 68s that left them tied at 10-under 206.
Blake won twice last year on the 50-and-over tour.
Willie Wood, coming off his first tour victory last week in New York in the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open, had a 70 finish a stroke back. Tom Jenkins, the second-round leader who was trying to become the tour’s oldest winner at 64, shot a 78 to tie for 21st at 3 under.