Nick Watney holes a 16-foot chip shot on the par-3 third hole during the first round of THE PLAYERS Championship.
Click here to watch as Freddie Jacobson holes a 34-foot chip shot on the par-4 12th hole at TPC Sawgrass.
Nick Watney (L) and Phil Mickelson (R) will start the final round leading by one stroke.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Phil Mickelson hit his second shot at the par-5 15th hole out of bounds and beaned a spectator at the 16th. Nick Watney shanked a 7-iron at the 17th hole.
But for all the errant -- and yes, even embarrassing, shots -- as the third round of the Wells Fargo Championship drew to a conclusion on Saturday, the two will head into the final round tied for the lead at 8 under.
That is, if the final round gets under way on Sunday. The weather forecast is for rain to begin early Sunday morning and continue all day, getting increasingly heavy as the day progresses. Monday's forecast is for more of the same.
In an effort to beat the weather, tournament officials have moved tee times up. Players will be sent off Nos. 1 and 10 in threesomes from 6:45-8:46 a.m. ET.
Watney shot 71 wile Mickelson had a 73. Both lead by two shots on the back nine before the fun started as the vaulted Green Mile took its tool. Their advantage is now one over George McNeill and two over Lee Westwood, John Senden, Ryan Moore, Robert Karlsson, David Lynn aand Derek Ernst.
Rory McIlroy, the 2010 champion who lost in a playoff here a year ago, is three strokes behind. He's tied at 5 under with Brian Harman, Kevin Streelman, Jason Kokrak and D.A. Points, another playoff participant last year.
By Brian Allee-Walsh, Special to PGATOUR.COM
AVONDALE, La. -- One of the featured groups failed to take advantage of a vulnerable golf course Thursday morning in the opening round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
Greeted by soft greens and a slight north wind, the golf gods seemed to be smiling down on two past champions - Bubba Watson (2011) and Nick Watney (2007) -- and defending champion Jason Dufner. But none came close to matching Ricky Barnes' course-record tying 8-under 64 at rain-soaked TPC Louisiana.
Watney led the threesome with a 3-under 69, one better than Dufner (70) and four better than Watson (73).
Watney got an early start to his 32nd birthday, waking up to darkness to work out the kinks before teeing off No. 10 at 8:30 a.m. ET.
"Waking up at 5 in the morning, I'll probably be pretty tame tonight," Watney told reporters after his round. "But yeah, it's always good to celebrate a birthday, and to shoot a decent round makes it even better.
"I'm happy with my round, so I'll go home and watch the boys have at it this afternoon."
Watney also planned to watch the first-round of the NFL Draft where his beloved San Francisco 49ers are slated to pick 31st as the runner-up to the Super Bowl XLVII champion Baltimore Ravens.
With 13 overall picks in hand, Watney suggested the 49ers might be ripe to maneuver up in the first round.
"The 49ers are really good," Watney said. "I don't think they have any major holes. But maybe a safety because we lost Dashon Goldston (to Tampa Bay in free agency). So that might be our weak spot."
Dufner fell short of his expectations Thursday but certainly didn't shoot himself out of the tournament, posting birdies on both par 5s on the front nine and a birdie on No. 16, a short 344-yard par 4. His lone bogey came on the par-3 fourth hole.
"We had a north wind today, which I think I've only played once before in my years here," Dufner said. "It was pretty score-able. But some holes we're used to playing downwind were into the wind today. So the course played longer and played really different than what I'm accustomed to here in New Orleans."
Watson slipped past reporters, signed autographs and posed for pictures with fans, then headed into the clubhouse to ponder his round and how to play himself into contention on Friday. He missed the cut last year in defense of his title.
"Eight under is some good golf," Watney said of Barnes' round. "I would take that any day."
Nick Watney's big-hitting game has always been a good fit for TPC Louisiana. (Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Each week, PGATOUR.COM's Fantasy Insider Rob Bolton offers his Power Rankings for the weekly TOUR event as well as his Sleeper picks. But what about the players who don't make the Power Rankings but who can't really be considered Sleepers? Bolton will make one "wild card" selection from the large group of players who fall into that middle range but might rise up to claim the title. This week's pick is ...
Will turn 32 years of age the same day as the opening round. The 2007 champion at TPC Louisiana has fared no better than a T20 in four return trips, but he's coming off a T13 at the Masters that ended a drought of four starts without a top 25. Currently 23rd on the PGA TOUR in greens in regulation, but it's an improvement in putting that lands him here. He ranked as low as 149th at one point during the Florida Swing, but has since climbed back to 93rd with three consecutive positive performances. For a guy arguably best known as a streaky putter, his latest progress could be a harbinger.
MARANA, Ariz. -- After a short match in the first round, Steve Stricker needed extra holes on Friday. Three extra holes, to be exact.
Stricker, the 2001 Accenture Match Play champ, outlasted fellow American Nick Watney in 21 holes to advance to the third round for the fourth time in 11 starts in this event.
Stricker played bogey-free golf for his final 13 holes. Watney carded just two bogeys, both coming in the first three holes of the match before he ran off a string of 18 bogey-free holes.
"It was a good hard-fought match," said Stricker, who needed just 14 holes to beat David Toms in the first round. "I knew it would be tough to finish him off."
Watney was 2 down after 13 but produced four birdies in his next five holes to square the match going into the 18th hole. For the round, he hit 71 percent of his greens and 81 percent of his fairways.
After halving three consecutive holes, including the first two playoff holes, Stricker won the match at the par-3 third with a brilliant tee shot to within 6 feet. Meanwhile, Watney found the greenside bunker and pitched out to 11 feet before conceding the hole and the match.
"I feel fortunate to get through," Stricker said. "Any one of those extra holes could've gone either way."
SCORECARD STATS: Stricker carded seven birdies and one bogey. Watney carded one eagle, five birdies and two bogeys.
HOLES WON: Stricker won five holes. Watney won three holes.
NEXT OPPONENT: Stricker plays Scott Piercy in the third round of the Snead bracket.
MARANA, Ariz. -- The match didn't get off to the best of starts as Nick Watney and David Toms halved their first two holes with bogeys.
Watney got untracked with a birdie at the fourth hole, though, and never trailed on the way to a 5-and-4 victory over the 2005 champion, who had also reached the title match in 2003. Watney went on to win the eighth, 11th and 13th holes with birdies and the 12th with a par to build the 5-up lead.
"There was definitely some sloppy points for both of us, but I'm very happy to get a win," Watney said. "I have a ton of respect for DT, and it's ... always nice to get a win at this tournament. It's a world golf event, and you can't win them all if you don't win the first one, so I'm happy with the way everything went."
Watney has reached the third round each of the last three years. He'll play another former champion in Steve Stricker in Friday's second match.
"Strick is really tough," Watney said. "He's never out of a hole. He's such a great putter, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him, too. I know it's going to be tough, and I'm excited."
Watney said his short game was the key on Thursday whereas normally his ball-striking has carried him through. "So I'm real excited about that, just because that's been where I've been loose a little bit at times," Watney said. "If I can keep that sharp and hit the ball a little cleaner, then things could be good."
PGATOUR.COM's Helen Ross caught up with Nick Watney this week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open to ask the California native about growing up as a San Francisco 49ers fan. Click here to read the Q&A with Watney, who is hoping his favorite team wins Sunday's Super Bowl against the Baltimore Ravens.
Watney mentioned that as a kid, he dressed up in a Joe Montana jersey for Halloween. The Watney family was kind enough to send us proof. So here's Watney proudly wearing Montana's No. 16 jersey while preparing to go trick-or-treating with his sister Kristen. (Photo courtesy of Watney family)
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LA JOLLA, Calif. -- All three had varying degrees of satisfaction with the way the Farmers Insurance Open ended.
But there is no denying that Brandt Snedeker, the reigning FedExCup champion, Nick Watney and Josh Teater should all have momentum heading into this week's Waste Management Phoenix Open.
After all, Snedeker and Teater tied for second at Torrey Pines, four strokes behind Tiger Woods, while Watney shared fourth with Jimmy Walker. Of the three, Teater had the best back nine when the pressure was on but when the dust settles, there were positives for each.
Teater's finish was the best of his career, eclipsing the tie for third at the 2010 Turning Stone Resort Championship. The Kentuckian close the 2012 campaign out with three top-10s in his last nine starts and he had a tie for 15th in Hawaii to go along with Monday's career-best.
"It was a good finish," Teater said. "I didn't play my best. Usually I'm a good ball striker, good driver, and I didn't really have that. But I've been working hard on my short game and my putting, and that's what kept me in it this week.
"It was awesome to have a finish like this when you don't really feel like you're playing your best or maybe in the past I've put emphasis in other spots. It just kind of opened my eyes to what I can continue working on. This is my fourth year out here, so it's no fluke that I belong. It's just taking the next step."
Snedeker trailed by six when he returned to attempt an 11-footer at the 14th hole on Monday. His putter let him down, though, there and with an inordinate amount of three-putts for the man who led the TOUR in strokes-gained putting last year.
The 75 Snedeker shot in the second round after owning a share of the first-round lead didn't help, either.
"I was a little disappointed with the way I finished today," said Snedeker, who shot 69 in the final round. "Just didn't roll the ball the way I wanted to all week. Had a good little stretch in my third round, being the fourth round, end of the third round.
"But you've got to roll the ball really well around here, and I didn't do a good job of that in the second round. It's a little frustrating because it's normally something I think I can do well. It was a good last 36 holes, but I've still got a lot of stuff to work on for (the Waste Management Phoenix Open)."
Snedeker was trying to come from seven strokes behind and win for the second straight year. In 2012, he closed with a 67 and was in the media center discussing what appeared to be a second-place finish when Kyle Stanley triple-bogeyed the 72nd hole to let Snedeker into the playoff he won.
"I guess it was a good title defense," Snedeker said. "I'm not really excited about the way I finished. If I had made three birdies going into today, I'd probably be more excited about it. But that's how you judge it is how you finish, and I didn't finish very well, so that's very frustrating.
"But at the beginning of the week if you had told me I'd have a chance on the back nine on Sunday, I probably would have taken it. So it's something to build on."
Watney is also a Farmers Insurance Open champion, winning the tournament in 2009. He trailed Woods by five strokes when he made the turn but stumbled on the back nine, making four bogeys before rolling in a birdie putt on the 72nd hole.
"It was a bit disappointing, but not a bad start, and I'm looking forward to next week," said Watney, who tied for second at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in his other 2013 start. "(My game is) pretty good. You know, today was a bit rocky. I don't know if it was the wind or whatever it was. ... I'm close to doing some good things, and I just want to get a little closer next time."