Watney secures Doral victory

3/13/2011 10:49:37 PM
Nick Watney enjoys WGC-Cadillac win  (Getty Images)
Nick Watney enjoys WGC-Cadillac win (Getty Images)

Nick Watney beat fellow American Dustin Johnson to win the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship in Miami.

At the US Open Championship last June Johnson led by three with a round to play and with an 82 opened the door for Graeme McDowell to become a Major Champion.

Then two months later Watney was three in front with a round to go at the US PGA Championship, but shot 81 and allowed Martin Kaymer to capture the title.

In the second of this season's WGC events, though, Watney closed with a brilliant birdie and a five under par 67 for a two stroke victory.

Runner-up to Phil Mickelson in the event two years ago Watney said: "I'm not sure about it owing me one, but I felt I had something for this course and I think I settled the score.

"It worked out great and I couldn't ask for a better ending."

Joint third on 13 under were Dane Anders Hansen and Italian Francesco Molinari - the pair leading a European Tour challenge that saw ten Members finish in the top 21.

Hansen, home in 32, shot 67 and Molinari, winner of the last stroke play World Golf Championship in Shanghai last November a 69.

After sharing US$930,000 with Molinari, Hansen said: “I thought I needed at least one more. It's great for the ranking and great for the confidence more than anything.”

Ryder Cup star Molinari was delighted with his display, but admitted to being frustrated by putts at the last three holes which stayed narrowly above ground.

“I'm really happy,” he said. “I think it's going to be really close in the end, those couple of putts on 16, 17 could have made a big difference. But I'm happy the way I handled myself today on the golf course, because I didn't have the best start.

“It wasn't easy, but then I got it going in the end of the front nine and just another solid round. It was quite tricky with the wind, so I'm really happy with the performance.”

What Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy, Padraig Harrington and Martin Laird would have given for either of those scores.

Donald, missing a chance to go to World Number Two a fortnight after his WGC-Accenture Match Play triumph, was in the last group with Johnson and even after a trip to the water on the third was only one behind when he turned in 34.

But he then bogeyed the 11th and 13th and with a 72 ended up in a tie for sixth.

McIlroy was second with Donald when he opened with a birdie, but found bunker after bunker on the following holes and showed his frustration by throwing a club on the ninth tee.

The 21 year old shot a 74 and finished joint tenth with Harrington, Laird (both 73) and also Tiger Woods, whose joint best-of-the-day 66 offers huge encouragement for him with The Masters Tournament only three weeks away.

Harrington had started with a 15 foot eagle putt to be in a tie for second as well, but was twice in the water for a triple bogey seven at the third and could not make up lost ground.

Watney made his move with three successive birdies from the eighth and came back from a bogey at the next with a pitch to four feet at the long 12th.

Just as important were par-saving efforts from 17 feet on the 13th and 24 feet at the 15th - and then, one ahead thanks to Johnson bogeying the 16th, came his dream finish.

Returning to the hole where he had gone in the water and taken six in the third round the 29 year old World Number 31 hit two perfect shots to 12 feet and rolled in the putt.

"After yesterday I was thinking of a lot," he stated. "I know Dustin is a great player and I kind of wanted to make him hole it (from the fairway) to tie."

Woods said: "It's just one of those things where as the week progressed this week I felt like I hit a lot of good shots, but then I would get side-tracked for a little bit.

"I didn't really know what the fix was a couple of times, but today I hit a lot of good golf shots and when I did mishit one I knew what the fix was right away.

"That feels good and I got up and down a lot. Those are key to be able to keep the momentum in the rounds going.

"It feels overall really good. My trajectory is becoming better and my shapes of my shots are getting tighter.

"The driver is still not quite there. I'm not quite shaping the golf ball like I want to yet, but I'm hitting it flush again, so that's just a matter of time before that comes around.

"I'm putting the pieces together. Everything is kind of shaping up and heading the right direction and peaking right at the right time."