RENO, Nev. – Nick Watney made nine birdies Thursday in a bogey-free round in the Barracuda Championship to take a two-point lead in the modified Stableford event.
Watney earned 18 points at Montreux Golf and Country Club. Players receive 8 points for double eagle, 5 for eagle, 2 for birdie, 0 for par, minus-1 for bogey and minus-3 for double bogey or worse.
“I’m very pleased with the way I played today,” said Watney, from Fresno, California. “This is pretty close to home. So it’s nice to see a lot of friends and family. I’m enjoying myself and hope it continues like this.”
Watney is making his first appearance in the event since 2008 after failing to qualify for the World Golf Championship-Bridgestone Invitational. He’s 124th in the FedEx Cup standings, with the top 125 getting into The Barclays – the playoff opener that he won in 2012 for the last of his five PGA Tour titles.
“You definitely don’t want to miss tournaments and not qualify for tournaments,” said Watney, who hasn’t had a top-10 finish since finishing second in the 2013 BMW Championship. “So it’s definitely a factor. But if you tee off thinking about that, you probably won’t play as well as you should.”
Geoff Ogilvy and Tim Wilkinson were tied for second.
Ogilvy, the Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, had eight birdies in his bogey-free round. Wilkinson, from New Zealand, had nine birdies and two bogeys.
“It was there for the taking,” said Ogilvy, 151st in the FedEx Cup standings. “I birdied the holes I was supposed to.”
Chad Campbell and Scotland’s Martin Laird were fourth at 13 points, and 2009 winner John Rollins was another point back along with Kevin Chappell, John Huh and Wes Roach.
Watney closed his afternoon round with a birdie on the par-5 18th. He also birdied Nos. 2, 4, 8-10 and 13-15.
“It seems to be pretty calm in the mornings around here and then the wind kicks up,” Watney said. “It’s just another factor, combined with the elevation and the uphills and downhills. Definitely gets your attention. We were very happy to get the round in with no rain because if we had to come back tomorrow and play extra holes, this is one of the toughest walks we have. So it’s nice to get it in and definitely sleep well tonight.”
Ogilvy, making his first appearance in the event since 2002, won the last of his seven PGA Tour titles in 2010. He has only two top-25 finishes this season and has missed 11 cuts in 20 events.
“I played well,” said Ogilvy, coming off a 34th-place tie last week in Montreal in the RBC Canadian Open. “Kind of weird. Was a bit 50-50 on actually coming here. Even after last week, I was kind of just frustrated and not making enough birdies really. I thought, `Well, I’m going to come and make 18 pars and not score enough points.'”
Wilkinson, winless on the PGA Tour, is 108th in the FedEx Cup standings. He birdied the final five holes on the back nine.
“I enjoy it out there,” Wilkinson said. “Good scenery.”
Gary Woodland, the winner last year, is playing in the World Golf Championship event in Ohio.
Canada’s Mike Weir has 4 points, while Brad Fritsch has 2.