Nick Watney Nick Watney scores first PGA Tour victory at Zurich Classic in Louisiana

Californian Nick Watney held off Ken Duke to win the Zurich Classic yesterday at the TPC Louisiana in Avondale, La., his first career PGA Tour victory.

Watney, 25, had a previous best-finish of fifth, which he accomplished twice in 2006. In the final round of the Zurich Classic, Watney lost the lead to Duke after bogeying the 10th hole, but bounced back with birdies on Nos. 11 and 14 to cement his lead, then hit every green in regulation to cruise home with the victory.

"I've seen it happen on TV and stuff. I've played in close to the last group sometimes, and I've seen guys go through it," Watney told reporters afterward. "But it's definitely more fun to actually do it. I'm trying to soak it all in. I'm having a blast and just very happy."

With the victory, Watney becomes the 16th player to earn his first career win at the Zurich Classic. Watney said he wasn't sure why the tournament seemed to get so many first-time winners, but that he was glad to join the list.

"I don't know, it's tough to say. I'm very proud to join that list, but I can't really say why or why not that happens here," said Watney.

As the final round began, Mark Calcavecchia was the only player at the top of the leaderboard who owned a PGA Tour victory (13, in his case). But Calcavecchia could not keep the pressure on the leaders, ending up with a final-round 71, good for a tie for fifth along with Bubba Watson and Chris Stroud.

Rookie Anthony Kim carded the best round of the day with a 65, which saw the 21 year old finish in a tie for third with John Mallinger, four shots behind Watney.

"I was so far back I really didn't have anything to lose, and I just fired at some pins and it worked out," Kim told reporters. "My goal is to win out here, and until I do that, I'm just going to keep plugging away."

With $1.4 million in the bank following his victory - which came with a $1.1-million paycheck - Watney moves to No. 13 on the PGA Tour money list, and is 12th in the FedEx Cup points chase with 5,955. Afterward, Watney told reporters he was excited to build on his triumph.

"It's definitely a huge feeling of accomplishment," Watney said. "But at the same time, it's something to build on, and I was able to do it this week. Now I've got to go work hard and see if I can do it again."

April 23, 2007

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