Trying to find bright side

Nick Watney's three-shot lead disappeared on the very first hole Sunday, and he stumbled all the way to an 81 and a tie for 18th place. Still, he said, he's hoping to learn as much as possible from being in the final group of a major.


Nick Watney admitted to some final-round nerves, and said he was "disappointed" in the way he handled the pressure-packed situation. (Getty Images)

By Stan Awtrey, PGATOUR.COM Contributor

KOHLER, Wis. -- Nick Watney tried to maintain a brave demeanor when he finished his final round at Whistling Straits on Sunday, but the glazed-over look in his eyes gave away his true feelings. Watney was emotionally wounded after he failed to close the deal at the 92nd PGA Championship.

Watney entered the final round with a three-shot lead, but couldn’t respond to the situation. He shot a 9-over 81, which dropped him all the way into a tie for 18th.

"It was not what I had hoped for," Watney said. "At this point, I'm very disappointed. That being said, I was leading by three shots going into the Sunday of a major, so for me as a player I need to take as much as I can from that."

Watney's lead lasted exactly one hole. He made a double bogey at No. 1, while playing partner Dustin Johnson made a birdie. Ten minutes after beginning his round with a nice cushion, it was gone. He parred the next two holes before making his second birdie at No. 4.

He thought his fortunes had changed when he made a birdie on the short par-4 sixth hole, but the momentum changed for good when he took a triple bogey at No. 7.

"I made a birdie on No. 6 and I was tied for the lead at that point," Watney said. "Then a guy clicked me (took a photo) on my backswing and I hit it in the lake and made triple. It was pretty much over at that point."

He made back-to-back bogeys at No. 8 and 9 and made the turn at 43. He continued to plummet down the leaderboard with a double bogey at No. 11 and bogeys at No. 13 and 15. He made consecutive birdies at No. 16 and 17 to salvage a 38 on the back nine, but the damage was done.

"I definitely got way ahead of myself," Watney said. "I was definitely nervous, but very excited. I was looking forward to the day. I knew it would be a tough day. I knew it would be a challenge. I was really looking forward to getting out there. I didn't handle it as well as I could have."

Watney also watched Dustin Johnson lose a one-shot lead with a bogey on the 18th hole, then get booted from the playoff by incurring a two-shot penalty for grounding his club in a bunker. Watney was preparing to his his chip shot from the other side of the green complex and didn't see what happened with Johnson in the bunker. Still, officials came to him and asked what he saw.

"I was totally shocked," Watney said. "I thought he was coming to me, the way my day was going."