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2013 WELLS FARGO CHAMPIONSHIP | Quail Hollow Club

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Wheels come off for Nick Watney on Quail Hollow's No. 17

Nick Watney had been “managing” his game during the third round of the Wells Fargo Championship before hole No. 17.

He may have been acting modest when he used that term, since he was 3-under for the day and had the outright lead with two holes separating him from Sunday.

Or he could have been too upset to brag after what happened at the par-3 17th.

An errant tee shot that left him well right of the green and 78 yards short, a poor chip and a two-putt on the 17th green dropped him two strokes and at 8 under for the day, finishing in a tie with Phil Mickelson for the lead at Quail Hollow Club.

Afterward, Watney wasn’t sure if he was more embarrassed or angry.

“A bit of both, to be honest. It’s about a tie,” he said. “It just so happened that I’m playing really well and it was on TV, so that’s where the embarrassment comes from.

“But the other thing is you like to put as much distance as you can between you and the other guys, so a bit of anger and definitely some embarrassment.”

Watney shanked his 6-iron on the 198-yard par-3 to the right. He had been waiting to tee for the better part of 20 minutes after saving par at No. 16 due to a logjam at No. 17.

Rod Pampling and Jason Kokrak teed off just after Watney took par on 16, but there was still the duo of Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood waiting at the box in front of Watney and George McNeill.

“There are probably better holes to have a wait than that one, but that wasn’t why I hit the shot that I did,” Watney said.

The ball came to rest on the cart path and he was able to take a relief drop with no penalty. A fan’s cell phone rang just as Watney addressed his ball, and after stepping away, his ensuing chip landed in the primary rough, well short of the back left hole location. He needed two putts from 8 feet after his third shot to card a double bogey 5.

“It’s just at that point there were a lot of things going through my head,” said Watney of standing over his second shot. “And you’re staring at a lake as well. So I was a bit tentative, I would say, as well as the next putt. It was just a disaster of a hole, and I’m glad it’s over.”

Up until the 17th, Watney had been playing some of the best golf at Quail Hollow on Saturday. He was 2 under for the day after he put his 118-yard approach shot within 3 feet at No. 8.

He had back-to-back birdies at the turn to get to 10 under after 11 holes. He then maintained that score with five consecutive pars, most of which were achieved with the roar of the crowd following Mickelson not far behind.

Watney will deal with those roars again Sunday, and this time the overwhelming favorite at Quail Hollow won’t be a hole behind. The two will be grouped with McNeill in the final trio, and Watney said if he has any chance of playing well Sunday, he’ll have to get past the debacle at the 17th.

“I was feeling really good, to be honest,” Watney said of his play before the shot. “I wish I knew what happened because I would make sure I never did it again. But it’s just bad timing and no fun at all.”

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