July 4 2011
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
The final pairing at the AT&T National on Sunday had a distinct Presidents Cup flavor.
Two players who are expected to play prominent roles on opposite sides in the biennial competition at Royal Melbourne in November -- America's Nick Watney and K.J. Choi of South Korea -- did battle down the stretch at Aronomink COuntry Club.
Watney ended up winning for the second time this season, beating Choi by two strokes in a spirited duel. Watney moved from fifth to third in the U.S. Team standings while Choi maintained his hold on No. 3 on the International side.
The Presidents Cup, where he will play for Fred Couples, will be the first international team competition for Watney, who now has four PGA TOUR victories. For his efforts on Sunday, the lanky Californian was also rewarded with the lead in the FedExCup standings.
Choi, who set the Aronomink course record in the second round only to see Watney eclipse it a day later, was bidding for the ninth win of his TOUR career. He beat another U.S. Team hopeful, eighth-ranked David Toms, in a playoff at TPC Sawgrass in May to win THE PLAYERS Championship.
The third member of the final draw at Aronomink, Rickie Fowler, couldn't keep pace with his two playing partners on Sunday. The exciting youngster from Oklahoma State ended up in a tie for 13th but still managed to move two spots to No. 21 as he tries to make his first U.S. Presidents Cup Team.
Two of the biggest movers on Sunday were Charles Howell III and fellow American Jeff Overton, who tied for third with Australian Adam Scott. Howell moved from 35th to 29th in the standings while Overton jumped four spots to No. 20.
Scott ranks a solid fourth in the International Team standings. He's an International mainstay after being a member of the last four times, and he'll be looking forward to competing for his childhood hero, Norman, for the second time, and the first before a home crowd.
Another Aussie veteran, Robert Allenby, inched his way closer to being one of the 10 automatic qualifiers when he tied for sixth at Aronomink. Allenby, who has played in five previous Presidents Cups, now ranks 11th.
Once the 10 automatic qualifiers are finalized at the end of the BMW Championship, which is the third event in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup, each captain will complete his team with two picks. Those picks will be made on Monday, Sept. 26.
The Presidents Cup will be played Nov. 14-20 at Royal Melbourne in Melbourne, Australia. Australian Jason Day and American Matt Kuchar lead their respective standings.