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Former Fresno State star dealing with two types of pressure

Jeremy Evans

RENO — One would think the pressure of playing in a PGA Tour event would be overwhelming for a 22-year-old. Nick Watney, though, is feeling it more than most this week at the Reno-Tahoe Open. Watney had to worry about letting down the family tree.

“This is the closest the tour comes to my house,” said Watney, who is from the small town of Dixon outside Sacramento. “There were a lot of people out there. My parents were here; my sister, cousins from both sides; aunts and uncles, friends. It made it special. I’m really glad I played this well. I didn’t want to have them waste a trip.”

The mini-entourage that followed Watney over Donner Summit to Montreux Golf and County Club hasn’t been let down. Watney, who had failed to make the cut in his first four PGA Tour events, made the cut at RTO on Friday after finishing the second round at 6-under. But now the pressure is mounting again because more family and friends are on the way.

“I think there’s going to be more coming now that I’m playing on the weekend,” Watney said. “We’re all spread out over town.”

Maybe the former Fresno State star shouldn’t be too surprised at his success. Watney, who is at 8-under going into today’s final round, was one of the most highly regarded college seniors last year. And despite missing his first four cuts this summer he won on a Canadian tour event last weekend.

“I went up there and just played golf,” Watney said of his win in British Columbia. “I didn’t get caught up in the money or anything like that. I think I’m getting there. I grew up watching a l ot of these guys, so I’d be lying if I said I was truly over that.”

But the old-timers were probably a little bit envious of the Watney this week. Three different rain delays forced most of the players to play more than 30 holes on either Friday or Saturday in order to complete their first or second rounds. On Friday Watney played 35.

“It was a very long day,” said Watney, who is six shots back of the lead. “I didn’t want to go any more holes but I didn’t really feel that much fatigue at the end.”

TRIPLETT HURTING

After birdies on the first three holes during his second round on Friday, University of Nevada graduate Kirk Triplett struggled in the continuation of his round Saturday, as well as the entire third round. The biggest reason was because of his back, which forced him to pull out of last weekend’s PGA Championship. Triplett, who was one of the favorites to win the RTO, followed up his second round score of 4-under with a 1-over 73 on Saturday. He is at 9-under for the tournament.

TANAKA IN ELITE COMPANY

Hidemichi Tamaka is tied for fourth on the PGA Tour in consecutive cuts made. Tamaka is tied for third with Fred Couples at 14 straight cuts. However, both players have a long way to go to catch the leader in that category. Tiger Woods has made a record 109 consecutive cuts. Ernie Els has the second most at 24. Tamaka is at 7-under for the tournament.

GOGGIN GOES BIG

Matt Goggin recorded the fourth longest drive on tour this season during his third round on Saturday. He hit his drive 379 yards on par-5 17th. Hank Kuehne recorded the longest drive this season when he hit one 385 yards at the B.C. Open.