Tue, Jul 05, 2011 - Page 19 News List

Nick Watney fends off K.J. Choi to hold on to two-stroke win at AT&T National


Jeff Overton reacts after missing a putt during the AT&T National on Sunday in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania.

Photo: AFP

American Nick Watney fought off a spirited back nine charge by South Korea’s K.J. Choi to claim his second USPGA Tour win of the season with a two-shot victory at the AT&T National on Sunday.

Watney, overnight leader with compatriot Rickie Fowler, managed only a single birdie on the back nine, but did not drop a shot on the way to a four-under-par 66 for a 13-under total of 267 in steamy weather in the Philadelphia suburbs.

“With 27 holes to go, I was just trying to play my way back in the tournament,” Watney said. “For some reason, the hole just got bigger for me. I’m overjoyed. K.J. kept coming and coming. It makes it that much more rewarding. I’m very, very proud of the way I was able to finish.”

One shot back overnight, Choi finally managed to catch Watney when he rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt at the 14th to leave both players on 12-under with four to play.

However, the South Korean stumbled with a double-bogey out of a bunker at the 15th, while Watney parred the same hole to restore his two-shot cushion and go on to win his fourth USPGA Tour title.

“Nick Watney just played too well today,” said Choi, after returning a final round three-under 67. “He played like a champion, so there was really nothing that I could do. He is a wonderful player.”

Watney, winner of the World Golf Championship event at Doral in March, joins Mark Wilson as the Tour’s only double winners this year.

He has also posted eight top-10 finishes, more than anyone on the Tour, and the US$1.16 million winner’s purse takes his season earnings more than US$4 million.

“He’s found out he’s a great player this year,” said Australian Adam Scott, who fired a closing 68 to tie for third, four shots back with Americans Jeff Overton (67) and Charles Howell III (66).

Watney, a native of Dixon, California, pushed into contention on Saturday when he shot a course record 62 featuring a a sizzling back nine 27 with only 11 putts.

He said he had changed to a new putter this week after not being able to “putt the ball in the ocean last week in Hartford.”

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