Nick Watney makes his first cut since March and credits the famous instructor with a fix | Golf News and Tour Information

DETROIT — Nick Watney said he felt relieved when he discovered there was a flaw in his golf swing.

Go ahead and read that sentence again. Yes, he was relieved.

The day after missing his 12th straight PGA Tour cut at last week’s 3M Open, Watney flew to Las Vegas to see swing coach Butch Harmon. The legendary instructor almost immediately spotted the problem. Watney, who likes to draw the ball, had his clubface flared open at the top. This forced him to use his hands more aggressively to try and line up the clubface. Not a recipe for consistency.

After a weekend in Vegas, Watney feels like a new man. Or his old self. Or at least a golfer he recognizes. “The ball goes where it’s supposed to go most of the time,” he said with a big smile Friday afternoon at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, where he was looking forward to not having to catch a flight home to the weekend.

Building on an opening five-under-67, Watney hit an even par-72 on Friday at Detroit Golf Club, and at five-under-139 he made his first cut since finishing T-66. to the Players in mid-March.

Despite recent struggles, Watney is 116th in the FedEx Cup standings, largely thanks to a T-2 in October at the Sanderson Farms Championship. Stopping the freefall – he was 43rd in the standings after the players – will certainly help him stay in the top 125 when the regular season ends at the Wyndham Championship next week.

Watney, 41, said he was relieved by Harmon’s diagnosis because at least there was something he could work on. “If everything was going well and I was just playing terribly, it would have been a bit frustrating for me,” he explained. “But you go to Butch and he’s like, ‘Oh, wow, that’s pretty messed up’, you’re like, ‘OK, fine. Let’s fix it.’ I mean, where do you go from here if all goes well? »

He thought about flying home to California for a day or two after his first session with Harmon, but his wife Amber convinced him to go straight to Michigan. “She was great. I guess she knew what I needed,” Watney said.

Had he putt well on Friday, Watney might have moved up the rankings, but he lost more than two strokes on the greens. On the bright side, he ranks ninth of the field over 36 holes in strokes gained/off the tee – compared to 197th on tour for the season in this category – and is in the top third of the field in SG/approach to the green .

“I’m not very good at doing anything different, so obviously it’s up to me to do a better job of figuring these things out. I mean, 17 here, and I should handle that better,” he said. he said “I work on stuff at home and then I go to the next event and it’s been the same, and it gets pretty frustrating.”

Ranked 431st in the world, Watney is a five-time PGA Tour winner, but his last win was in 2012. He’s had his share of ups and downs since then, but looks set to reach the playoffs for the first time. since the 2018-19 season – a welcome development playing this season using his one-time exemption to be in the top 50 in career earnings.

The only thing he could think about on Friday, however, was getting a chance to go out again on Saturday. Change is good.

“My game was pretty good at the start of the year, then I lost a bit, and a little bit behind can become a big thing,” he said. “I think it’s good that it’s all behind me and now and I’m looking forward to it, and I want to see if maybe I can putt a few more putts and move up the leaderboard.”

Yeah, it’s better than getting on another plane.

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