What they said: Nick Watney

July 03, 2011
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: AT&T National transcript archive NELSON SILVERIO: We'd like to welcome 2011 AT&T National champion Nick Watney. Congratulations, your second win of the year. With the win you also move into first place in the FedExCup standings. Why don't you just get us started just talking about the week in general and maybe what your key thoughts for the weekend were.

NICK WATNEY: Well, you know, with 27 holes to go in the tournament, I was really just trying to play my way back in, and then for some reason the hole just got bigger for me. I'm overjoyed to be in here as the winner. It was a very difficult, long day. K.J. played great golf, and he kept coming and coming, and that makes it even more rewarding.

Q. It looked like you were holding on pretty good, a lot of two-putt pars where K.J. catches you, and 15 and 16 were kind of the pivotal putts??

NICK WATNEY: Yeah, I just kind of thought, we were walking off of -- it would be 14, after he holed the birdie to tie. I was just kind of like, well, game on. It was definitely not a surprise for K.J. to make a move. I had led all day, so I kind of figured that someone was going to come up from behind me, especially with the scores yesterday.

You know, definitely not a surprise, and I was very, very proud of the way I was able to finish.

Q. Second win of the year, and you've been around for a few years now, and it just seems like maybe something has clicked into place this year; you're jumping up in the rankings. Is there a light that's gone on, or has anything changed or have you figured it out or whatever??

NICK WATNEY: I wouldn't say I've figured it out. I mean, this game is -- I said back on the green, if somebody would have watched me putt last week, they wouldn't believe that I would be sitting here with you guys. I think it's just kind of my journey. Obviously Rory is 22 years old or whatever, so in years he's a lot way ahead of me.

But I think I'm just really trying to work hard and kind of assess my game and work on the weaknesses. I'm doing some good work with Butch; Dr. Mo has been great for me; my caddie Chad has been great. It's just been -- I feel like it's a process, and I just need to keep working hard and hopefully keep winning.

Q. It's so hard to follow up a round like yesterday often on the golf tour. To be one of only four guys to shoot 66 and close it out, what does that tell you about yourself??

NICK WATNEY: I mean, I guess it all goes back to the PGA last year. Definitely the moment got the best of me, and I performed very badly. But I really feel like I learned a lot that week, especially Sunday, and I knew it was going to be a long, hard day. Even if you come out of the gate, make three birdies, it's going to be a long day.

You know, just really tried to keep my head down. Even on the last green, if K.J. makes that, then my four-footer gets a lot longer. So it was a very rewarding day.

Q. When you start the day and Rickie is tied with you, a lot of flat-brimmed hats in the crowd, kids. You're the guy who's won out here. Do you block that out, factor that in? There's a lot of people pulling for the kid to get his first win. What was that like?

NICK WATNEY: You know, I think it's great for the TOUR. He's obviously a very popular player. I think his time is definitely coming.

I would say there were probably a few more Fowler fans out there. But it is what it is; sometimes you play away games or whatever. So it doesn't bother me much.

Q. Motivate you at all??

NICK WATNEY: I mean, I get motivation from a lot of places, I guess. I mean, I play against Phil, crowds are definitely very pro-Phil. Yeah, I guess when it's the final round and all the chips are in, maybe a little bit.

Q. You had a number of one-putts on the front, particularly that sand save at 4. Can you talk about the ability of your putting to give you a little bit of a cushion at least at the turn??

NICK WATNEY: Well, I put a new putter in the bag this week, a new Scotty Cameron. My boy Paul at the studio sent me a putter out overnight, because like I said, in Hartford, I just didn't -- I couldn't putt it in the ocean. You know, I was seeing the lines really, really well, and my speed got a little bit off on the back nine there. I kept telling Chad, that's what I'm aiming at. It was fun to putt like that under pressure.

Q. If you go back to your other win this year, the tee shot you hit on 18, is it possible that that was worth more experience than just one win, that it may have been worth two wins? Do you know what I mean?

NICK WATNEY: Yeah, that was a -- I feel like that was a big shot. I don't know if for my career, if that's too much to say, but definitely just for the year. Yeah, I think that was worth more than just a good tee shot on the last hole. That meant a lot, and I drew on that, today just being nervous and being able to have some positive memories of pulling off a good shot under pressure.

Q. Do you take any satisfaction in winning -- I think you've pretty much won in every portion of the country now, New Orleans, the east in Miami, California and now here, of course. Does that tell you anything about your game in terms of being a little more well-rounded than most of us give you credit for??

NICK WATNEY: Yeah, I'd like to think that my game travels. You know, I hadn't thought of that actually, Doug, but I'll take it. I would love to win anywhere, any country, any continent. Yeah, hopefully you guys give me some credit, I guess.

Q. Speaking of any country, are you setting other goals this year after having two wins??

NICK WATNEY: I don't think so. I think I just want to keep improving, keep putting myself in this position. It's a very addictive feeling to be out there and under the gun, and to be able to hit good shots and putts is why I play, really. I want to keep working hard. We've got two majors to go, so hopefully I can put myself in a good position in one of those tournaments. I think I've learned from the first two that I maybe placed a little too much importance on the Masters and the U.S. Open, so I'm going to go to the British -- I'm going to enjoy this and then go to the British and try to do my best but maybe take it a little easier on the bad shots and whatnot.

Q. Speaking of having a game that travels, you'll be in the odd position of defending this title at a different course next year. What do you think of this place? Does it suit your eye? What do you think of Congressional where you may have put too much pressure on yourself, that whole juxtaposition.

NICK WATNEY: I love this golf course, really. I played well here last year, and it's a bummer we're leaving. Congressional obviously is a great course. I haven't had great results there, but I'll give it my best shot next year.

Q. You talked about this position being addictive. At what point did you sort of become comfortable with being in this position on Sunday??

NICK WATNEY: Do you mean today or --

Q. No, just in general. Was it the win earlier this year or was it -- the PGA you talked about being sort of nervous and not ready for the big moment.

NICK WATNEY: Well, I think I'm getting there. I think it's a process for me. Today I was able to perform, but there have been times when maybe I was a few shots back that I didn't -- was trying too hard to make a charge and whatnot. So I think it's a process, but I really do love to be in the last group and to play when it really matters.

I think I'm getting more and more comfortable, but I only have four wins. There's guys out here with 70, so I've got a long way to go.

Q. A lot of grumbling about American golf not being that good. Do you think you held up your end of it a little bit today??

NICK WATNEY: Well, I guess I figure I'll do what I can. You know, the Europeans are ranked I think the top four positions in the world, so that's no accident. They definitely earned it. And I guess the only solution for players who want to get to that position is to win tournaments.

You know, European golf is very strong, and I guess it's our job as Americans to win more events and try to give them a run.

Q. You go to No. 10 in the world. Does that mean anything to you??

NICK WATNEY: That's very special. You know, that was one of my goals at the beginning of the year, to try to get in the top 10. That's really, really cool. But at the same time I can't rest on that. I'm very, very pleased, but I feel there's still work to be done.

Q. Of the three par saves you had on the front, which do you think was the most important??

NICK WATNEY: That's tough to say. Maybe No. 8, because I felt like I hit a really good shot into that green. That was a very difficult hole. Jeff Overton was making a move, K.J. obviously. I think that was big to not drop a shot after hitting a good shot and keep momentum heading to the back nine.

Q. You like this course just fine, obviously; you've played here well for two years. For the locals this is a little bit of a -- not a tryout, but this two-year period people from the outside get a look at it. What's your sense of whether this golf course is on track for something bigger, and what do you think they have to do, or do you think it's fine as it is??

NICK WATNEY: Well, I think it's a great course right now. I think that -- I've heard that they're looking to get a major, and I think if they pinch the fairways in and keep the greens firm as they -- today the greens were pretty firm. I think it would be a great test. I don't think there's much work to be done out here.

NELSON SILVERIO: Do you mind taking us through your clubs on the birdies?

NICK WATNEY: Yes. No. 2, I hit a sand wedge from about 108 and made about a ten-footer, which was nice to just kind of get some good momentum from -- to get the day started off well.

No. 5 was about a 20-foot putt, which on the front nine the hole just looked -- I was just seeing the lines so well. That was a 9-iron to 20 feet.

And then No. 9 I was very proud of. I hit it on the short side, which I was not trying to do from the fairway, but hit a really good bunker shot to about three feet.

16, I hit a really good tee shot and a really strong 7-iron and then was able to two-putt.

Q. Did you talk to Butch??

NICK WATNEY: We texted, but Butch always says one of his strengths is to not say anything if there's nothing to be said, so he just said, keep doing what you're doing and we'll talk again today.

NELSON SILVERIO: Nick Watney, congratulations.