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."