Nick Watney tied for fifth at the Mercedes-Benz Championship.
Scott A. Miller/Getty Images
Thursday, March 27, 2008

AVONDALE, La. (AP) — Nick Watney is trying to avoid getting too far ahead of himself in pursuit of his second PGA Tour title.

"I think after winning, I liked it so much I was really wanting to do it again really soon, and definitely started pressing maybe," the defending Zurich Classic champion said Wednesday. "People say trying too hard, trying to force things. So the second half of the year was a little disappointing."

Not too disappointing.

Watney finished 43rd on the money list with $1,838,629.

Still, when he got in position to win he was trying to force things, he said, by looking ahead. That's what he's been working on this year.

"I kind of took a step back in the offseason," Watney said, adding that he's worked on both physical and mental aspects of his game.

First-time winners have dominated the Zurich Classic. Watney was the third straight player to notch his first victory at the tournament, which begins Thursday.

This is the third time the Zurich Classic has been played on the TPC Louisiana course. It opened in 2005, but Hurricane Katrina did extensive damage and flooded large portions of the course.

"It's in really good shape," Watney said.

The fairways may be a bit softer this year, Watney said, but the greens are firm.

Jim Furyk, playing in New Orleans for the first time since 1996, is using the week as a tuneup for the Masters.

"As far as the preparation for Augusta, I like the idea of the very firm, fast greens," Furyk said. "That will help. I like the chipping areas around the greens. There's a lot of collection areas and you have to hit some shots that have a little spin or some bump and runs."

But, Furyk acknowledges it's almost impossible to emulate the severe conditions faced in the major championships.

"You can't emulate the tight lies at Augusta, you can't emulate the fast greens and the undulations at Augusta," Furyk said. "I don't care where you're practicing. You could come close sometimes. You just pick and choose different things for each course that you think will help in you game and preparation, shots that you have to hit a lot."

On Tuesday, Louisiana favorite David Toms, a former LSU player, withdrew from the tournament because of back problems. Two other players — 2008 U.S. Ryder Cup team captain Paul Azinger and Greg Kraft, who won last week's Puerto Rico Open — also withdrew Tuesday. Azinger also blamed back problems. Kraft gave no reason.

You May Like