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Associated Press
Nick Watney celebrates after sinking a birdie putt to clinch his victory at The Barclays on Sunday.
Golf

Watney takes home FedEx Cup opener

– Nick Watney salvaged a dismal season Sunday at The Barclays with a victory that could not have come at a better time.

Watney turned a two-shot deficit against Sergio Garcia into a three-shot lead in a decisive four-hole stretch around the turn at Bethpage Black, and no one got closer than two shots the rest of the way. Watney made a 10-foot birdie putt on the last hole for a 2-under 69 to capture the opening playoff event for the FedEx Cup.

He wound up winning by three shots over Brandt Snedeker, who birdied the last hole for a 70. Garcia made bogey on the 18th for a 75.

The win means Watney goes to No. 1 in the FedEx Cup standings and is assured a shot at the $10 million prize at the Tour Championship next month. Perhaps more important, it could be a big step toward an event that doesn’t pay anything at all – the Ryder Cup.

Winning against one of the strongest fields of the year at least puts him in the conversation to be one of four captain’s picks for the Sept. 28-30 matches at Medinah. Davis Love III will announce his choices after next week’s playoff event outside Boston.

Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk are likely to be two of those picks, and the other two are suddenly wide open.

Watney, who won for the fifth time in his career, finished on 10-under 278.

“I made more putts than I made all year,” Watney said.

Tiger Woods, six shots behind at the start of the day, never made a move. He alternated between bogeys and birdies until the sixth hole, and his round imploded on the back nine with a three-putt double bogey on the 12th, a poor wedge that led to bogey on the par-5 13th, and a tee shot on the par-3 14th that sailed over the green and one-hopped against the gallery. He closed with a 76 and tied for 38th.

Woods left without speaking to the media. It was the third time this season he finished a 72-hole tournament over par.

CHAMPIONS: In Snoqualmie, Wash., Jay Don Blake won the Boeing Classic for his third Champions Tour title, beating Mark O’Meara with a birdie on the second hole of a playoff.

EUROPEAN: In Gleneagles, Scotland, Scotland’s Paul Lawrie marked the official confirmation of his return to the European Ryder Cup team after 13 years with a resounding four-shot victory in the Johnnie Walker Championship. The 43-year-old Lawrie shot a final-round 68 to finish with a 16-under 272 total. Brett Rumford (68) of Australia was second.

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