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Watney rallies to win FedEx Cup opener

With Sunday’s victory, Nick Watney is guaranteed a shot at the $10 million prize at next month’s Tour Championship.

With Sunday’s victory, Nick Watney is guaranteed a shot at the $10 million prize at next month’s Tour Championship.

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 with Garcia, whose bogey on the final hole gave him a 75.

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.

YOUNGEST EVER: Lydia Ko won the Canadian Women’s Open on Sunday to become the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history and only the fifth amateur champion.

The 15-year-old South Korean-born New Zealander closed with a 5-under 67 for a three-stroke victory. She broke the age record of 16 set by Lexi Thompson last September in the Navistar LPGA Classic in Alabama, and is the first amateur winner since JoAnne Carner in the 1969 Burdine’s Invitational.

“To break another record, or being in the history, it’s amazing, and it’s always awesome to be able to play with the pros,” Ko said.

In January, Ko won the New South Wales Open in Australia at 14 to become the youngest player to win a professional tour event, a mark broken by 14-year-old Brooke Henderson in June in a 36-hole Canadian Women’s Tour event in Quebec. Ko also won the U.S. Women’s Amateur two weeks ago in Cleveland.

“I didn’t cry after this one,” said Ko, but (after) that one I did cry,” Ko said, referencing the U.S. Women’s Amateur. “Yeah, to me, U.S. Amateur is a big event, and obviously this is a huge event as well. But still, as an amateur winning one of the biggest amateur events, I feel like it was a better win — even though this one was awesome.”

Ko finished at 13-under 275 at The Vancouver Golf Club, pulling away with birdies on five of the first six holes on the back nine. She opened with consecutive 68s and shot a 72 on Saturday to take a one-stroke lead into the final round.

Inbee Park shot a 69 to finish second.

Park chipped in for birdie on the final hole, and Ko closed with a bogey to make it closer.

“The pressure she was handling is really amazing,” Park said. “I’m really happy for her. It’s great for her career — and I think I was just lucky to get the winner’s check today.”

U.S. Women’s Open champion Na Yeon Choi, Chella Choi and Jiyai Shin tied for third at 8 under. Na Yeon Choi had a 73, and Chella Choi and Shin shot 71.

The glove Ko wore in the final round will be displayed in the World Golf Hall of Fame.

“To have something that’s mine to be up there, it’s amazing, and it doesn’t come down or anything,” she said. “So it will always remain there, and it’ll be a good memory. It’s been an awesome week.”

Ko plans to remain an amateur and go to college in the United States, possibly at Stanford.