For three-plus months of the PGA Tour season it appeared the golf world had an answer to one of the biggest question marks coming into this season: If Tiger Woods couldn't continue to be the most dominant American golfer in the game today, who had the ability to pick up the torch and lead the way?
That golfer for the early part of the season appeared to be Nick Watney. Despite his quiet demeanor and relatively boring game, Watney was setting the world on fire with a win and five top-15 finishes in his first six events. But as soon as Watney started to look the part of best American, he quickly disappeared off the radar, finishing T-46 at the Masters and missing the cut at the U.S. Open.
It seemed like Watney couldn't handle the pressure. And just when he started to become an afterthought, Watney went out and hopped right back right back into the picture on Saturday with a mind-blowing back nine at the AT&T National, firing a video game-esque 8-under 27 on an Aronimink course that some players claimed was a more difficult test than the one at the U.S. Open.
The round included birdies on the 10th and 11th, and a Fourth of July fireworks display down the stretch, as he birdied four of his final six holes, also throwing in an eagle for good measure.
It was a brilliant back nine that allowed Watney to post an 8-under 62 that saw him soar up the leader board. But in the process of soaring up one board, he did the same thing on another, moving back into the picture as the best American golfer in the game.
He still has the final round in front of him, but if Watney can somehow find a way to hoist the trophy, that would give him two wins on tour, a feat only Mark Wilson and Bubba Watson have been able to accomplish this season.
Given Watson's current form and Watney coming on strong, there's a good chance we could be talking about Watney as the top American again on Sunday evening.
- Nick Watney