Blake Watts (Birmingham Country Club Photo)
Blake Watts used a great final round to move past the field and win the Birmingham National Invitational at The Country Club of Birmingham (West Course) in Birmingham, Ala.
shot a final round 2-under 69 and was the only round in red numbers as the course bit back on Sunday. Watts entered the final round tied with Kenny Cook
at the top of the leaderboard, but Cook shot a final round 6-over 77 to finish T5.
"I wanted to shoot the best score possible and focused on one shot at a time rather than the final outcome," Watts said. "I didn't give much thought to being tied for the lead going into the final round. I was obviously nervous going into it, but for the first time, I just told myself that I was going to enjoy the challenge of being nervous."
Watts, who played his collegiate golf at UAB, got off to a slow start for the week, shooting an opening round 1-over 72, but got back on track in the second round, shooting a 4-under 67. He shot rounds of 72-67-69 to finish 5-under.
Even though it was tied to start the final round, Watts did not find himself leaderboard-watching.
"During the final round, I was very focused on my game and maintaining my goal to shoot the best round possible," Watts said. "It was not until about (Hole No.) 11 that I even knew what my lead was in the tournament."
Watts was the only golfer to finish the Invitational under par.
Watts is familiar with The Country Club of Birmingham, but it has been a while since he has played the pristine course.
"We played the Country Club of Birmingham 3 or 4 times while I was at UAB, and I also played there in our state amateur about 10 or so years ago.
Nick Maccario finished in solo second place at even par with rounds of 71-70-72, and Andy Sajevic finished in solo third place at 1-over with rounds of 71-71-72.
This was the biggest win of Watt's golfing career.
"This was my biggest win and capped off a very good year for me," Watts said. "I won the Alabama State Four-Ball with my partner Will McCurdy earlier this year, and that was probably my biggest win before the NIT."
Jeff Reuter finished in solo fourth place at 2-over with rounds of 72-72-71, and six golfers, including 36-hole co-leader Kenny Cook, finished T5 at 3-over.
"I would say that my mentality this week was the biggest reason I came away with the victory," Watts said. "I stayed patient the entire tournament and devoted my full concentration to every shot, chip, and putt. That is tough to do in any tournament, but it was especially important on such a difficult and demanding golf course."
ABOUT THE NIT
This 54-hole stroke play event, formerly
held the weekend after Memorial Day but moved to
November in 2020, dates back to
the early 1900's and is also known as the "NIT". Draws
a field of national-level mid-amateurs.
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