What they said: Nick Watney

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December 02, 2012
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: World Challenge transcript archive

JOHN BUSH: Nick Watney joins us after a 5?under par 67, holds a two shot lead after the first round of the World Challenge presented by Northwestern Mutual. Great playing out there. If we can get some comments on your day.

NICK WATNEY: Yeah, I mean, I played pretty well definitely on the back nine. The front nine was a bit?? a little sloppy. But I mean, my short game is definitely where I need to improve for next year, so kind of been getting into that a little bit, and it helped me today. I hope for some more results like this next season, and I've never really done too well at this tournament unfortunately, so I've never really?? I haven't even been in here actually, so it's good to be here.

Q. What made the difference today then as opposed to the previous rounds you've played and not had success? Was it the short game you were talking about?

NICK WATNEY: Definitely part short game, but also just I'm a little bit better prepared than I have been coming in here. It's been kind of taking?? I've come in the last two years pretty rusty coming in here, hadn't been doing very much work. So I figured since Tiger is nice enough to invite me, I might as well prepare and try to play well. Short game and just being a little more prepared I think has been the difference so far.

Q. Didn't you earn your way here by drilling him in Malaysia??

NICK WATNEY: My win in Malaysia? Well, I guess so, but he could probably veto my invitation if he chose.

Q. Give me your preference considering your last win is in Malaysia, which weather you prefer to play in.

NICK WATNEY: Which weather? I think my caddie definitely prefers this weather. No, I like this. I like?? today was great, I thought. The rain held off, and it was a nice temperature. Malaysia was, for Americans anyway, brutally hot. I think I prefer a day like this as opposed to 90 and 90.

Q. They used to call these things the silly season, but you've got a great field here, a couple major champions. How do you go about this? Is it another tournament that you look forward to? Is it a preparation for next year? Or is it a chance to see people?

NICK WATNEY: I think it's everything. You know, it's definitely not as serious or not as cut?throat maybe, but I think when Sunday comes, we're all very competitive people. If we're tied going to the last hole, we definitely want to beat the other guy. That having been said, I didn't see anybody practicing after their rounds or?? so it's definitely a little more laid back than normal.

But at the same time, winning this event, it would be an honor. The list of champions is pretty strong. I think everybody comes here wanting to win even though it's during the holiday season and all that stuff.

But yeah, me personally, I'm trying to use it to prepare for next season, and winning never gets old, so that's the goal.

Q. Are you playing next week??

NICK WATNEY: I'm not.

Q. You kind of just answered that question I was going to ask anyway, but do you see something?? why are you laughing?

NICK WATNEY: I'm not laughing.

Q. Do you see this as kind of the end of your '12 season or do you have one eye toward Kapalua and beyond??

NICK WATNEY: Well, I think this is?? yeah, I see it as the end of the '12 season. I'll probably?? but having said that, I want to use it?? after I came home from Asia I didn't really do a lot, so I want to use this as sort of to start preparing for 2013, and then hopefully hit the ground running in Kapalua and not go there looking to find something, go there having put in some work in the off?season and being ready to go day one.

Q. Your last couple of months have obviously been a lot better than your first six or seven months of the season. What's been the difference for you??

NICK WATNEY: Well, I started hitting the ball much, much better at the U.S. Open. Took a week off, spent some time with Butch, and something kind of clicked there, and I started playing much better. I think that was kind of the turnaround. The first five months were not very good at all. I did learn, though, that?? I don't know where I was in the world, but I sort of thought that I think maybe if I'm really honest with myself, looking back I think I kind of rested on that a little bit, whereas now I think I want to keep going higher, and I think that's one of the things about?? the saying about getting to No.1 is the easy part, staying there is hard. I think Tiger and Rory are very impressive, and the top players, they continue to strive to get better. That's my goal is to really try to get better and really try and get in contention as much as I can, and that's where?? the more you're there, the more you win, and that's the best part about playing on the TOUR is winning. That's my goal for next season.

I won a few times here at the end, and it's great, and hopefully just keep right on doing it.

Q. Having been a winner on TOUR, when you get to a stretch like early last season where things aren't going well, do you say I can still do it, or do you say what's going on out there? Amateurs tend to say I'm going crazy, but what do pros do?

NICK WATNEY: Well, I mean, I think there's a lot the same. You start pressing, you start questioning the things you're doing. Definitely you get frustrated. But I think it's just a process of examining why things are happening the way they are, why you're shooting bad scores and not where you want to be, identify that and deal with it.

Q. Is it all in your swing??

NICK WATNEY: No. I mean, I would say since the Barclays, I was hitting the ball much better, but since the Barclays I got a putting lesson there, and that has?? I mean, today, for example, I putted just?? I putted great, made a lot of par?saving putts and no bogeys, but it wasn't because I was on every green.

I think I got a lesson from Darrell Kestner there at Deepdale at Barclays, and just really focused on my setup, which made me a lot more consistent, which has yielded a couple of wins since.

I feel like I got everything?? I'm on a good path. I know what I need to do, which I think is important. When you're struggling you may not know?? be standing on the range but you're searching for things. I found what I need to work on. I think I found the formula I need to do. So I'm excited for this off?season and next year, as well.

Q. You mentioned short game before. You talked about putting. Was it just the putting or other things in the short game, as well, and secondly, your take on this week's putting controversy.

NICK WATNEY: Well, for me personally, I can always get better at chipping. I'm not at the top of the TOUR in chipping stats, that's for sure. So that is a huge key, especially in this month of December for me. But putting can hide a lot of things. If you make a lot of eight and ten footers, you don't have to chip it as well as other guys. So that's definitely a huge key.

The putting controversy? I mean, I think it's?? I think it's really difficult now to go backwards. Having said that, I do think that anchoring the club makes it a little bit easier when you're dealing with nerves and having something that's not going to move, you know is not going to move, I think it definitely makes things a little easier. But it's also difficult to go back on?? to institute a rule now when guys have been doing it for?? I heard in the '80s somebody was doing it, too. I guess I don't have to worry about it because I putt with a regular putter, and those guys unfortunately have to make some adjustments in the future.

Q. Have you ever tried??

NICK WATNEY: I've tried it. I've never really done it in a tournament or anything. But I mean, I don't think they're cheating by any means because it's perfectly legal, but at the same time, I do think it takes an element out of putting. That's for people a lot smarter than me to decide, and apparently they've made a ruling, so we'll see what happens.

JOHN BUSH: Nick, thank you. Appreciate it.

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