Watney Wins by Two; What Now for Professional Golf in Philadelphia?

Watney Wins by Two; What Now for Professional Golf in Philadelphia?

On a muggy Sunday in Newtown Square, 54-hole co-leader Nick Watney carded a final round 66 to claim victory at the 2011 AT&T National at Aronimink Golf Club. The win is Watney's fourth as a professional and second this season.

Ending the day in solo-second, South Korean K.J. Choi put up a strong fight, but was ultimately undone by a ill-timed double bogey on the 500-yard par-4 15th.

The remaining man in the final group—Rickie Fowler—was not so fortuitous as to follow suit and secure third. Continuing an unfortunate trend of difficult final rounds—two within the last year at Muirfield Village and TPC Scottsdale—Fowler forfeited his share of the lead early on Sunday and was never able to right the ship after a day-long battle with his putter. A +4, 74 plummeted Fowler from the top of the leaderboard to a tie for thirteenth.

Back to the winner—Watney—the thirty-year-old Californian was presented a trophy shaped like the Liberty Bell and something
very much like $1,116,000, putting an end Philadelphia's latest experiment with professional golf.

Just as quickly as it arrived, the AT&T National has packed its bags to return to Bethesda, Maryland in 2012. The question now for local golf fans is simple: where do we go from here? We break down the future of professional golf in the Philadelphia area after the jump...
It's no great secret that the membership of the Aronimink Golf Club is looking to land a major championship following the success of the past two years. The club has previously hosted the 1962 PGA Championship, 1977 United States Amateur Championship, the 1997 United States Junior Amateur Championship and the 2003 Senior PGA Championship and is looking to take that next step in catching "the big one." Given the caliber of the tournaments already held on the grounds, it would seem as though the PGA and the USGA think highly enough of the course to give the AGC its fair consideration.

Unfortunately, such a scenario, even if plausible, isn't likely to result in an event any time soon.

With the Masters annually played at Augusta and the British Open obviously on the other side of the pond, only the U.S. Open and PGA Championship are in play. Those events, much like the World Cup and Olympics, are booked well in advance, with the Open already committed through 2019 and the PGA through 2018.

Further complicating matters is the Open's involvement at Merion in Ardmore in 2013. Though fans will certainly be excited to have the Open "in Philly," the tournament will more than likely have negative implications for Aronimink, insofar as the USGA likes to spread the event throughout the country.

That, of course, leaves the PGA as Aronimink's best chance at hosting a major any time soon. And on that front, "soon" won't come any quicker than August 2019.

Throwing aside the prospect of another major, and for the moment Aronimink itself, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem remarked earlier this week that the Tour was pleased with the success of the 2010 and 2011 AT&T and may move to explore a more permanent return to the Philadelphia market.

While there's no question that our area has the caliber courses to host a routine tour stop, that's done little to secure a long-standing event in the past. Timing, sponsorship and the necessary space for tournament infrastructure all play a role in the process.

For now, we can look forward to the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion. After that, well, your guess is as good as mine.

Best of NBA: Curry, Warriors demolish Cavaliers, 126-91, at home

Best of NBA: Curry, Warriors demolish Cavaliers, 126-91, at home

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors certainly looked ready to trade some more blows with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers come June.

The two-time reigning MVP hit five 3-pointers and had 20 points while matching his season best with 11 assists in Golden State's 126-91 rout of the defending champs Monday.

Klay Thompson scored 26 points with five 3s, and Curry made four steals. Draymond Green produced his third triple-double of the season with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists while matching his career best with five blocks -- and had another dustup with King James in the process.

James had 20 points on 6-of-18 shooting and eight rebounds, and he and Green became the talk once more as their relationship turned even more testy.

Kevin Durant added 21 points, six rebounds, five assists and three blocks for the Warriors in a much-hyped matchup merely weeks after Golden State lost 109-108 in Cleveland on Christmas (see full recap).

Thomas explodes for 17 in fourth quarter to lift Celtics over Hornets
BOSTON -- Isaiah Thomas scored 17 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter, and the surging Boston Celtics beat the Charlotte Hornets 108-98 on Monday night for their ninth victory in 11games.

It was Thomas' 25th straight game with 20 or more points. He's been putting up big final quarters of late -- scoring 20 or more three times this season. No other NBA player had done it more than once entering Monday.

Al Horford had 22 points, while Kelly Olynyk and Jae Crowder added 15 apiece for Boston, which has won all three meetings with Charlotte this season.

Kemba Walker scored 24 points and Marvin Williams 21 for the Hornets, who lost their fifth straight -- all on the road.

Thomas scored 13 straight points, pushing Boston ahead 93-83 with his 3-pointer from the left wing with 7 minutes left.

Boston led 80-71 entering the final period (see full recap).

Wizards remain hot with win over Trail Blazers
WASHINGTON  -- Bradley Beal scored 25 points and John Wall had 24 as the Washington Wizards took a page from the Portland Trail Blazers' playbook by hitting 13 3-pointers in a comfortable 120-101 victory on Monday afternoon.

The Wizards, who rely less on the 3-pointer than almost any NBA team, were 13 of 23 from beyond the arc in their 12th consecutive home victory. The 3-pointer-heavy Trail Blazers shot 8 of 26 on 3-point attempts.

After Washington coach Scott Brooks called Portland guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum as good as any backcourt in the league, Beal and John Wall outplayed them. Lillard led the Blazers with 22 points and McCollum had 12, but they combined to shoot 11 of 29 from the floor.

The Wizards have won four of their last five games (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Penguins halt Capitals 9-game streak with wild 8-7 OT win

Best of NHL: Penguins halt Capitals 9-game streak with wild 8-7 OT win

PITTSBURGH -- Conor Sheary scored 34 seconds into overtime and the Pittsburgh Penguins ended the Washington Capitals' nine-game winning streak with a wild 8-7 victory Monday night that included nine second-period goals.

Sheary had two goals and an assist for the Penguins, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Evgeni Malkin picked up his 11th career hat trick during a frenetic second period, and Sidney Crosby collected his NHL-leading 27th goal to go with two assists. Bryan Rust and Nick Bonino also scored for Pittsburgh, and Matt Murray got the win despite allowing seven goals on 28 shots.

The Penguins trailed 3-0 before scoring six goals in less than 11 minutes in the second period, more goals than the Capitals had allowed in a game all season. Pittsburgh led 6-5 after 40 minutes.

Lars Eller scored twice for Washington, and T.J. Oshie, Brett Connolly, Nicklas Backstrom, Justin Williams and Andre Burakovsky also found the net. Philipp Grubauer made eight saves after coming on in relief of Braden Holtby, who was pulled during Pittsburgh's second-period deluge (see full recap).

Eichel scores twice to give Sabres' 4-1 win over Stars
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Jack Eichel scored two goals and the Buffalo Sabres defeated the Dallas Stars 4-1 on Monday.

Tyler Ennis scored 19 seconds into the first period. Ennis returned after missing 30 games with a groin injury that required surgery.

Jake McCabe also had a goal and Robin Lehner made 31 saves after missing the past three games with an illness.

The Sabres snapped a two-game losing streak and beat the Stars for the first time in four matchups.

Radek Faksa scored for the Stars in the opener of a three-game road trip. Kari Lehtonen stopped 25 shots. Dallas has lost two in a row and six of eight (see full recap).

Bishop anchors Lightning to 2-1 win over Kings
LOS ANGELES -- Brian Boyle scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period, and the Tampa Bay Lightning opened a six-game road trip with a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday.

Ben Bishop made an early mistake that led to Kyle Clifford's goal for the Kings, but bounced back to make 31 saves in his second start back from a three-week absence with a lower-body injury.

Tyler Johnson scored in the first period for the Lightning, who won for just the second time in seven games.

Peter Budaj stopped 27 shots for the Kings.

Both teams played without stars due to illness. Kings captain Anze Kopitar missed his first game since Nov. 20, and All-Star defenseman Victor Hedman missed his first game of the season for Tampa Bay (see full recap).