Farmingdale, NY – Nick Watney posted a 2-under 69 on Sunday to come from behind and win The Barclays, the first event in the PGA Tour Playoffs.
Watney, who began the final round two shots back, finished at 10-under 274 and won the title by three at Bethpage Black. He vaulted to first in the FedExCup points list with three more Playoffs events to go.
"It was really, really fun," said Watney.
Brandt Snedeker, much like Watney, improved his chances for a Ryder Cup spot on Sunday. Snedeker shot a 1-under 70 and took second at 7-under par.
Neither Watney nor Snedeker earned one of the eight automatic spots for the U.S. Ryder Cup team. Davis Love III will make his four captain's picks in a little over a week and both have to be under consideration after their performances this week.
"The Ryder Cup is out of my control," said Watney. "All I can do is try and get ready to play next week and see where the chips fall. I'm thinking about it much more now. Someone told me Davis wanted a hot player. Not really concerned with it because it's out of my control."
Third-round leader Sergio Garcia played the back nine in 3-over, signed for a 4-over 75 and tied for third with defending champion Dustin Johnson, who had a 3-under 68 on Sunday. Garcia and Johnson, who also had to impress Love with his play, finished at 6-under 278.
It was a rough Sunday for Tiger Woods.
He led the FedExCup points race at the start of the tournament, but a back- nine 40 destroyed any chance of contending on this Sunday. Woods carded a 5- over 76 and tied for 38th at plus-1.
But the new leader is Watney.
He took all of two holes to erase his 2-stroke deficit on Sunday.
Garcia missed the first green, then missed an 18-foot par try to fall back to 9-under. Watney poured in a 13-footer for birdie at two and the pair was knotted in first.
Garcia moved back in front when Watney 3-putted the fifth green for a bogey. The Spaniard padded his cushion after a long birdie putt at the sixth, but Watney got one back with a birdie at the par-5 seventh.
The par-3 eighth provided yet another huge swing.
Garcia knocked his tee ball in the left bunker and blasted past the flag, all the way to the fringe on the other side. He couldn't convert his long par save, but Watney drained a 30-footer for birdie to take a 1-shot lead.
Another 2-shot swing came at the 10th, but this time, it just extended Watney's lead. Garcia 3-putted from 30 feet for a bogey and Watney rolled in 4-footer to move three ahead.
Both players bogeyed the 11th and Watney 3-putted the 12th as well to drop another stroke. His margin was two and Snedeker inched himself into contention.
Watney took some of the starch out of his contenders with a 10-foot birdie putt at the 14th. He was three clear again, but Snedeker fell down the board with a bogey at 16.
Watney gave a slight glimmer of hope to Garcia and Snedeker at the 16th. His approach landed in a greenside bunker and the best he could do was 25 feet. Watney missed the par putt and his lead was down to two over Garcia.
Snedeker birdied the last to join Garcia in second at 7-under par. Watney and Garcia parred the 17th, then Garcia made a bit of a mess out of the 18th. He made bogey and Watney had three putts from 10 feet at the last to win.
He needed only one.
The birdie gave him a 3-shot victory, his fifth on the PGA Tour.
This year certainly wasn't what Watney expected.
In 2011, Watney won the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral and the AT&T National at Aronimink. He made the U.S. Presidents Cup team, but this year has been something of a struggle.
Watney posted only three top-10s in 2012 and finished 30th on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list.
"I've been working hard," said Watney. "I'm very pleased how I drove the ball down the stretch. Any time you win it's great for your confidence. I'm so thrilled and very proud of this week."
Graham DeLaet went out early with a 6-under 65. The Canadian vaulted up 38 places into a tie for fifth with Lee Westwood (70), former Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen (70) and Brian Harman (71). The group finished at 5-under 279.
Greg Chalmers shot a 1-over 72 and took ninth at minus-4.
NOTES: Watney pocketed $1,440,000 for the victory...World No. 1 and PGA Champion Rory McIlroy shot a 1-over 72 and tied for 24th at 1-under par...Phil Mickelson posted a 76 and joined Woods in a tie for 38th at 1-over par...DeLaet, Bob Estes, David Hearn, Jason Day, Tommy Gainey and Jonas Blixt played their way into the top 100 and will be at the Deutsche Bank Championship...John Mallinger, Will Claxton, Chad Campbell, Fredrik Jacobson, Andres Romero and Chris Stroud fell out of the top 100.