The 28-year-old South Korean Kevin Na closed with a 6-under 65 for a tournament winning-record 23-under 261 total at TPC Summlerin in the Fall Series opener. Watney, a two-time winner this year, shot a 67.
Na tied for the lead with Watney entering the round, Na sealed the breakthrough victory with a 42-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th. Na and Watney both parred the par-4 18th. Na was overjoyed with his victory.
“I’m just very excited about my first win,” said Na, who starting playing golf a year after his family moved to the U.S.A from South Korea when he was 8. “It wasn’t easy. Nick was coming right behind me. It looked like any time he was going to make a move, and I tried the best that I could to stay one step ahead of him. I think the putt on 17 basically sealed the deal for me.”
The winner had five birdies and a bogey on the front nine to reach 21 under. He parred the first four holes on the back nine, then dropped a stroke on the par-3 14th to fall into a tie with Nick Watney.
Kevin pulled ahead with his great birdie on the par-4 15th and both players birdied the easy par-5 16th.
“Fifteen was definitely disappointing to not make birdie,” Watney said. “I would love to have that bunker shot back. … Sixteen, I played very nice. Seventeen, I hit a good shot then he made a 40-footer. That kind of stuff happens when you win. It’s tough to beat. “One thing I relearned this week was how serious I was taking it, how badly I wanted to play well the last couple of months. That doesn’t always translate into good golf, so this week I came here with no expectations. I took it very easy and played pretty nice.”
RESULTS: JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE LEADERBOARD
Paul Goydos and Tommy Gainey had 68s to tie for third place at 18 under, and David Hearn (65), Carl Pettersson (68), Jhonattan Vegas (68), Tim Herron (69) and Spencer Levin (68) followed at 17 under.
Na and Watney broke the record by two strokes in the event that switched from 90 to 72 holes in 2004.
“This golf course you have to get off to a good start,” said Na, who earned $792,000. “The reason why is because like all the guys out here say, ‘You have to go low, and if you’re not making birdies, somebody else is.’ So, if you’re even par through six you feel like you’re two shots behind everybody, and it puts more pressure into your back nine.