Nick Watney lets lead early in final round slip away at Pebble

Nick Watney watches his tee shot on the 18th hole. He opened the final round with four consecutive birdies before running into trouble.
Nick Watney watches his tee shot on the 18th hole. He opened the final round with four consecutive birdies before running into trouble. The Associated Press

It’s not often 19 under par doesn’t win on the PGA Tour. But a few errant swings cost Nick Watney his sixth career victory Sunday during a week when birdies were posted so often the leaderboard appeared to be malfunctioning.

After holding an early final-round lead in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Watney stumbled mid-round, then birdied the 17th and 18 holes at Pebble Beach Golf Links for a 3-under-par 69. His 268 total placed him second, three shots behind Brandt Snedeker.

Like most of the field, Watney capitalized on ideal weather. He had 25 birdies and an eagle in 72 holes. But the 13-year pro from Dixon also had eight bogeys, five in the final round, including on the pivotal fifth and sixth holes. Snedeker had one bogey in the tournament.

“Number six was a huge error,” said Watney, who recorded his fourth career runner-up finish. “It was probably the worst swing of the week. I just wasn’t as committed as I needed to be. It was a momentum stall.”

Watney’s second shot went far right on the par-5 sixth, leading to a drop, a one-stroke penalty and a bogey.

Watney hasn’t won since 2012, when he captured The Barclays on the PGA Tour and the CIMB Classic on the Asian Tour. The win in The Barclays came by three shots over Snedeker.

Playing in his 12th consecutive AT&T, Watney bolted into the final-round lead by opening with four consecutive birdies to move to 20 under.

But Watney’s back-to-back bogeys dropped him one stroke behind Snedeker, who advanced to 19 under with a birdie on the sixth hole. The two-hole stumble proved decisive.

“I didn’t know I was in the lead,” said Watney, who missed the AT&T cut the past two years but has two top-10 finishes dating to 2004. “Yes, I birdied the first four holes, but it was so early, it didn’t mean much.

“It was great to get off to that start, but I knew it was going to be a dogfight all day regardless of all those those birdies.”

Watney rallied on the seventh hole, hitting his 99-yard tee shot to within 3 feet and made a birdie. He also made a 40-foot birdie putt on the 11th.

“Overall, it was a great week,” Watney said. “I played very well. I putted well the whole week. It’s a little bittersweet sitting here right now, but I am very excited about the way I am playing.”

Spencer Levin of Sacramento had three sub-70 rounds but finished with a 72 for a 10-under 277.

“It just wasn’t my week,” said Levin, who bogeyed the 17th and birdied the 18th to complete his seventh AT&T. “That’s all there pretty much is to it. I played well, but it just wasn’t my week. I hit it well, but the putts just didn’t fall. Everything was just a hair off.”

Levin missed the AT&T cut last season, but he tied for fourth in 2011 and tied for ninth in 2012. Levin won the State Amateur at Pebble Beach in 2004 and twice won the Northern California Amateur (2002, 2004) at Spyglass Hill Golf Course, on which he opened the AT&T with a 68.