Watney overcomes two bogeys to win Zurich Classic title

AFP , NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA

Tue, Apr 24, 2007 - Page 18

Nick Watney shrugged off two early bogeys to post a three-under 69 and claim the first US PGA Tour win of his career on Sunday at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

Watney recovered from his early woes with an eagle at the fifth hole, going on to finish with a 15-under total of 273 -- three shots in front of Ken Duke.

"It feels great. I mean, I'm living a dream right now," said Watney, who will turn 26 on Thursday. "It's been a goal for a long time and I'm on cloud nine."

Watney, who led by two strokes going into the final round of the US$6.1 million event, lost the advantage after 10 holes before regrouping with birdies at 11 and 14 to win comfortably.

Watney's previous best finish was a fifth-place tie last season at both the Reno-Tahoe Open and the Funai Classic.

"I've seen it happen on TV and stuff," Watney said. "I've played in close to the last group sometimes, and I've seen guys go through it. But it's more fun to actually do it. I'm trying to soak it all in. I'm having a blast and I'm very happy."

Watney was two-over for the day before holing a wedge shot on the fifth for his eagle. The shot even drew a high-five from playing partner Duke.

"That's just the way it goes," Duke said. "When somebody hits a great shot, you just congratulate them."

"I knew I couldn't keep going the way the same direction I was, so that was kind of a shot in the arm," Watney said.

Duke, who also was seeking his first tour title, carded four birdies over the first eight holes and grabbed a one-shot lead at 14-under when Watney bogeyed the 10th.

The 38-year-old Duke, whose best PGA finish is a ninth-place tie, could not register another birdie and fell off the pace with bogeys at 14 and 18.

The bogey at the 14th was pivotal because Watney had just made a 2m putt for birdie, creating a two-shot swing and a two-shot lead.