What they said: Nick Watney

October 28, 2012
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: CIMB Classic transcripts archive

LAURA HILL: We'd like to welcome 2012 CIMB Classic champion Nick Watney to the interview room. It's your first trip to Malaysia, and you polished if off today with a nice 61 today. Give us your thoughts on the day and taking home the title.

NICK WATNEY: Well, there were quite a few players in front of me, and I saw Tiger got off to a good start, so I wasn't really thinking about winning when I teed off. But the round sort of built momentum and things just kept getting better and better. I'm thrilled to have come away with a win.

Q. The 59, you're at the 18th tee. Can you tell us what went through your head at that time??

NICK WATNEY: Well, you know, I was more concerned with just winning the tournament. I really wanted to finish strong and hit a couple good shots, and I hit a pretty good drive because to the right is the trouble on 18, so I hit a decent drive, and it plugged in the left rough, and I took a drop. And the ball went into a divot in the rough.

So 59 kind of went out the window right there when I dropped it. But my friend Adam Scott, I remember a few years ago, he won the Qatar tournament, and he had a chance to shoot 59 if he eagled the last hole. But I kind of thought about that, and winning the tournament was more important than 59 for me.

Q. First round 71 and then suddenly you came back right into it with 65. When do you start thinking that you could win this??

NICK WATNEY: Honestly not until late today. After the first round I kind of thought I was out of it to be honest, just the lead was 8?under and there were so many guys. I think I was fourth group off on Friday, so I was well behind. Even playing well the last two days, I still didn't think even with a 61, Bo could have tied or won the tournament outright.

I didn't start thinking about winning until probably 13 or 14 today.

Q. Good present for your second wedding anniversary??

NICK WATNEY: Yeah, that'll be on Tuesday.

Q. How many times did you look at the leaderboard today??

NICK WATNEY: I saw leaderboards on the front nine, but I was still well back. Bo got off to a good start. I think Jbe Kruger got off to a nice start, Chris Kirk made some birdies early. I didn't pay much attention until I got to 13, I saw I was tied for the lead walking to the 13th green.

That's when I kind of thought I had?? I was in the tournament at that point. I knew I still needed to make some birdies, but walking to 13 is when I saw I was tied for the lead and had a chance.

Q. Can you put your finger on how you turned the tournament around? Was there anything different that you did, any switch in preparation, anything like that?

NICK WATNEY: Not really. I think my putting was very weak in the first round. I don't know if that was jet lag, had to do with that, or just tournament rust. I haven't played for a couple weeks. I'm not sure what it was. But the difference between the first round and the last three was definitely putting. Today I putted as good as I have since the Barclays tournament in the States a while back. That was definitely the difference between the first round and the last three, the difference was putting.

Q. Your caddie had to go to the hospital I believe after the first round, and your wife took over I think for one hole??


Q. But he was back today. Is he okay, and what difference did it make to your game in the context of having him back for the last round??

NICK WATNEY: Yeah, he didn't actually go down, but he was suffering from heat stroke on Thursday. My wife carried the last hole, so she can a that we won the tournament when she caddied.

But my caddie did not go on Friday just because we thought there's no reason to?? he had to stop on Thursday, and then he got an IV and drank a lot of fluids, and then he woke up on Friday and he still wasn't feeling well, so we just thought there's no reason to push it. So we had a friend of his caddie for me on Friday, and then he felt good enough to go. He said he didn't fly 24 hours to just sit in his room all weekend.

But he was big. The biggest things were I think today on the 11th, we could have gone for the green, could have laid up, it was really close, and he talked me into laying up and I ended up making birdie. Then on the very next hole, on the 12th, I wanted to hit a 7?iron, he said it was an 8, and I hit it about four feet and made another birdie.

He definitely helped me. And it's good just to have somebody you're comfortable with coming down the stretch.

Q. Did it matter that Tiger Woods was in the field and so much attention was paid on him??

NICK WATNEY: Well, I think it's great for the tournament. I think it's good?? it's great that he came. Did it matter to me? I mean, I really enjoyed beating Tiger, so maybe it did. But any time that you can play this era, I think everybody would agree these last 15 years, he is been by far the biggest attraction in our sport, so I think it's great every tournament that he comes to.

Q. I believe this is your first professional win outside of the U.S.; am I correct??

NICK WATNEY: Well, in Asia.

Q. Do you think it would be an impetus to come here and play in Asia a little bit more??

NICK WATNEY: Yeah, I mean, I think I'm excited to come back. I've been to China a few times, three years maybe, the last three. My wife and I enjoy traveling, and yeah, we'll be back next year for sure.

Q. When some of the other U.S. players see some of the numbers that came off the course in the last week, do you think it'll encourage more to head out here for this tournament next year??

NICK WATNEY: Well, I think a number of factors will encourage people to come. I think different guys like different stuff. Some guys enjoy tournaments that take making tons of birdies, and some guys enjoy a tournament when even par wins. I don't think the scores will necessarily dictate. I just think more and more guys are coming, and when they go back and say how nice CIMB is to all the players and how well we're taken care of and how good the golf course is, I think more and more guys will start coming.

Q. This is a question about your mindset going into today's round. We've been talking to Tiger the past few days, every day we ask him what he's looking for the next day. Yesterday he said he needed to get to 20 plus under. I'm wondering did you have a number in mind when you started the round??

NICK WATNEY: I did not have a number, only because if I shot 10?under and Bo shoots another round like he played yesterday, then I don't win. I think when there's enough guys like there is this week, there's enough guys playing well, and low scores are everywhere, you don't really know what's going to win the tournament.

I think after the first two rounds, 14?under is winning and everyone said the winning score is going to be in the 20s. Well, it ended up that only three guys actually made it to 20?under. It's impossible to predict the score. I was just trying to keep my head down and keep making birdies, and it worked out for me.

Q. Tiger has been making all kinds of mechanical and technical changes, but your game I reckon has been the same since when? You have not made any swing changes or anything like that?

NICK WATNEY: Well, golf, you're constantly refining things. It may not?? the changes I've been making have not been as drastic as Tiger's maybe, or obviously they have not gotten as much attention as Tiger's changes, but I think we're all trying to get better, and that would involve changing subtle things. So I think golf you're always evolving, you're always trying to improve. And a week like this shows me that I'm doing the right stuff. But I just think it's not getting as much attention as Tiger's changes.

Q. When you went to the practice area after finishing your round, what was going through your mind at that time? Were you preparing for a playoff?

NICK WATNEY: I was. Bo, obviously he's in great form, winning last week and coming here leading, being at or near the lead almost every round. So I was fully expecting him to make birdie at the last, and I told my caddie that it's worse waiting, I'd rather be on the course playing. At least I have some control. But waiting is very nerve wracking.

Q. Was it tough for a player like yourself to decide to come and play in Asia at this time of the year??

NICK WATNEY: No, it wasn't. I've talked to multiple guys, Bill Haas has been before, I've talked to him, I talked to Ben Crane, and they all said great things about the tournament. My wife and I made a schedule a few months ago what we were going to do kind of once the FedExCup ended, and so we decided we've never been there, and everybody says good things, so we were excited to come.

LAURA HILL: Nick, congratulations, good luck next week, and have a good off?season.