Sacramento-area native and Fresno State grad Nick Watney, the last remaining Northern California golfer in the race for the 2013 FedEx Cup, posted a 64 in the final round of the BMW Championship at Conway Farms Golf Club, near Chicago, on Monday, to surge to a second place finish. Watney finished two strokes behind eventual winner Zach Johnson, passing 54-hole leader Jim Furyk, who slid to third on a day of mediocre play, and a handful of other players, including a faltering Tiger Woods, to post his best finish of the 2013 season.
Even more important than the second-place tournament finish is Watney’s final position in the FedEx Cup points standings – the points he earned for the high finish vaulted him from an outside-looking-in 34th to a comfortable 12th place in the FedEx Cup rankings, punching his ticket to the Tour Championship at the East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta next week and a shot at the $10 million FedEx Cup champion’s prize.
Watney posted rounds of 67 and 69 the first two days of the tournament, and was sitting in 4th place behind Jim Furyk, Brandt Snedeker and Zach Johnson going into the weekend. A third-round 70, which was not so different from his previous two scores, but no better than average for the field on Saturday, dropped him four places, to T-8.
Heavy rains washed out the final round on Sunday, and returning for a Monday finish in sunshine and crisp, breezy conditions, Watney jumped out to a good start with a run of three straight birdies.
An eventual total of eight birdies against one bogey returned a 7-under 64 for the 2003 Fresno State grad, the low round of the day by a stroke, for a finishing total of 270, one stroke ahead of 54-hole leader Jim Furyk, and two strokes clear of a crowd of heavy-hitters tied for fourth place at 271: Jason Day, Brandt Snedeker, Hunter Mahan, Steve Stricker, and home-field player Luke Donald, who is a member at Conway Farms.
Watney has a mathematical chance of hoisting the FedEx Cup next weekend but it’s a complex scenario. He can win if he wins the Tour Championship and:
• No. 1 (Tiger Woods) finishes in a three-way tie for 6th or worse
• No. 2 (Henrik Stenson) finishes T-4 or worse
• No. 3 (Adam Scott) finishes T-3 or worse
• No. 4 (Zach Johnson) finishes in a three-way tie for 2nd or worse
• No. 5 (Matt Kuchar) finishes T-2 or worse
Watney recently left long-time instructor Butch Harmon around the time of the PGA Championship, and has been working with swing coach Todd Anderson, who also coaches Billy Horschel and defending FedEx Cup champion Brandt Snedeker.