FARMINGDALE, N.Y. -- Even after a year that didn't come close to his expectations, Nick Watney wasn't about to give up on his season.
Amazing how one week changed his outlook in so many ways.
He beat one of the strongest fields of the year at The Barclays, on the tough track of Bethpage Black. Winning the opening playoff event for the FedEx Cup guarantees him a good shot at the $10 million prize. And suddenly, playing in the Ryder Cup becomes a lot more realistic.
That all came into play Sunday when Watney didn't miss a green until the 16th hole, turned a two-shot deficit against Sergio Garcia into a three-shot lead, overcame a trio of three-putt bogeys with clutch birdies, and closed with a 2-under 69 for a three-shot victory.
"It's been not quite the year I wanted," Watney said. "But this really makes it all forgotten. Winning a tournament is hard, but winning out here and against this field was very, very difficult. I'm kind of still on a high right now."
U.S. captain Davis Love III has a lot more choices for his four wild-card selections next week.
Watney won by three shots over Brandt Snedeker, who already was part of the discussion as a potential pick. Snedeker, a winner in San Diego and a contender in the British Open, battled to the end and made big putts on the last two holes for a 1-under 70 to finish alone in second.
Dustin Johnson, also under consideration as a pick, shot 68 and tied for third
Not even Watney thought he was worthy of being picked for the Ryder Cup going into the week.
"I'm thinking much more now than I was coming in," he said. "Coming in here, I didn't deserve to be in the conversation because I had not played my way in. Someone told me that Davis said he wanted a hot player, and we still have a week to go. But like I said, I'd love to be on the team. But I'm not really concerned with it just because it's out of my control."
Love will announce his picks after the second playoff event, the Deutsche Bank Championship, which ends on Labor Day. Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk are likely to be two of those picks, and the other two suddenly are wide open.
"Ryder Cup is definitely on my mind," Snedeker said. "But I'm not letting it affect the way I play. Try to win every golf tournament. It gives me more motivation to do it, and if I do that, I know I will make the decision easy for them.
"Davis has an extremely difficult choice with a bunch of guys who did not play well enough over the last two years to be on the team. You can't go wrong with any of them. I think that it's certainly helped everybody who played well this week."
Watney, who won for the fifth time in his career, finished on 10-under 278.
In what amounted to a duel with Garcia for so much of the day, Watney fell two shots behind after he three-putted for bogey on the fifth hole and Garcia made a 40-footer for birdie on the next hole. Garcia, going for his second straight PGA Tour win, never had much of a chance after that.
"I hit a couple bad shots at the wrong moments," Garcia said. "And unfortunately, I just wasn't feeling comfortable."
Watney two-putted for birdie on the seventh. On the par-3 eighth, Garcia scrambled for bogey from the bunker, while Watney holed a bending, 30-foot birdie putt to take his first lead of the day. Another two-shot swing followed on the 10th, when Garcia three-putted and Watney hit a beautiful approach to 4 feet for birdie.
Both were sloppy on the back nine, but Watney hit all the right shots and seized control for good with a 10-foot birdie putt on the 14th.
"I made more putts than I made all year," Watney said.
He credits that to some tips from Darrell Kestner, the re spected club pro at nearby Deep dale, a lesson set up by a friend. Kestner worked on his setup, mainly keeping Watney from leaning to far back on his heels.
"It paid off," Watney said.
Tiger Woods, six shots behind at the start of the day, never made a move. He alternated between bogeys and birdies until the sixth hole, and his round imploded on the back nine with a three-putt double bogey on the 12th, a poor wedge that led to bogey on the par-5 13th, and a tee shot on the par-3 14th that sailed over the green and one-hopped against the gallery. He closed with a 76 and tied for 38th.