Sunday at the World Golf Championship was like golf’s version of the NBA All-Star game, featuring the top 64 golfers in the Official World Golf Rankings who brought their talents to South Beach (or about eight miles south of it, in Doral).
With such a stacked field of high-caliber golfers, it was anyone’s game. Matt Kuchar, arguably the most talented American golfer around right now, rode the momentum of four top-10 finishes this season to Doral, while German-sensation Martin Kaymer, the newly-anointed world No. 1 player, was predicted to be a fierce contender for the championship.
But when the host course, TPC Blue Monster at Doral, began to show its teeth late in the final round, only two players could withstand its bite: Dustin Johnson and Nick Watney. Both players notoriously held three-stroke leads headed into the final round of major championships last season—Johnson at the US Open and Watney at the PGA—but each dramatically let the win slip away.
According to the PGA Tour records, when Watney approached the 18th hole at Doral—a visual nightmare for any golfer—he should have had no chance contending for the championship. He’d been eight-over par on the hole over his career, he never made a birdie and he was fresh off a pulled drive the day before into the treacherous, almost magnetic, water hazard.
Despite his dreary past, Watney, with the poise of a seasoned vet, split the fairway with his drive, punched an 8-iron to pin high and drained his birdie as if he had designed it that way—flawlessly. His sensational finish earned him the victory, his third in his career and by far his most prestigious. But we didn’t just learn about Nick Watney’s perseverance this week. Come see what else we found out at Doral.