Nick Watney rising up the ranks after AT&T win 

Nick Watney wouldn’t use the  term “Sweet Torture” to describe his win a few days ago on the PGA Tour, in the AT&T National. But if it’s good enough for the Giants, very much his team, he’ll be accepting.

With a round and a half to go last weekend, Watney was seven shots behind and shot 27 on the back nine Saturday, second lowest ever, and 62 total. He followed that with a 66.

With no holes to go, he was two shots ahead.

Sort of like the Giants. Until Sunday.

Watney came in first. The Giants came in behind the Detroit Tigers, and subsequently the San Diego Padres. But it’s early.

Also early for Watney, who turned 30 in April. Born in Sacramento, he went to high school in Davis and then to college at Fresno State, where his uncle, Mike Watney, was coach. With Tiger Woods’ injury and withdrawals of late, it’s justified at the moment to call Watney the best male golfer from a California school.

No question he’s the best male golfer who’s a Giants fanatic. Watney travels with a gray away jersey — What? He likes gray over the home white? — and after the first of his two victories this year, the WGC Cadillac, at Doral, was photographed in the jersey.

His Titleist Vokey wedge has tiny orange and black SFs stamped on the back of the blade.

At the AT&T at Aronimink, in the suburbs of Philadelphia, much of the gallery supported Rickie Fowler.

“Sometimes, you play away games,” Watney told Mark Wogenrich of the Allentown Morning Call. So that’s why he keeps the road gray?

With the two wins, a fourth at The Players, a fifth at Phoenix and a sixth at San Diego, Watney has earned $4.189 million in 2011. As mentioned, it’s early. Only July, and the British Open is coming up.

A few good finishes the next few months and he can buy the whole town of Davis.

He’s proving, as did Rory McIlroy, one bad round in a major is simply one bad round in a major, not a reason to revamp your game. McIlroy blew up, hitting an 80 the final day of the Masters. The pessimists said it would shake him. He shook golf, winning the U.S. Open last month with a record score.

Watney’s agony came the last day in the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. Indeed, Dustin Johnson cost himself a chance to tie when he grounded his club on the 72nd hole in what he didn’t believe was a bunker and, yes, turned out to be a bunker. Watney, playing with Johnson, led by three shots after 54 holes. And shot 81.

“Definitely the moment got the best of me, and I performed very badly,” Watney said. “But I really feel like I learned a lot that week, especially Sunday.”

What we’re learning, if we didn’t know, is Nick Watney belongs among the game’s elite. He’s 10th in the world ranking and third among members of the PGA Tour.

Watney and longtime girlfriend Amber Uresti married in Carmel in October, the night of Game 3 of the World Series. “If they make it,” he tweeted the Golf Channel’s Kelly Tilghman about his ball club, “We’ll just have to push it back, the wedding.”

They made it. He made it.

Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on and Email him at

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Art Spander

Art Spander

Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on and Email him at
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