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Nick Watney capitalizing on ‘amazing kind of lifeline’ (www.golfchannel.com)

The final leaderboard from the Sanderson Farms Championship was littered with young talent – winner Sam Burns, Cameron Young, Hayden Buckley, Sahith Theegala.

And then there was Nick Watney.

The 40-year-old Watney’s co-runner-up finish on Sunday wouldn’t have been all that surprising a decade ago, when Watney was a top-10 player in the world. But that was then; now, Watney hasn’t won on Tour in nearly 10 years, since capturing the 2012 Barclays for his fifth career title, and he’s playing this season using his one-time career-money-list exemption (he was just eligible, too, as he started the new season right at No. 50).

Watney called the exemption an “amazing kind of lifeline.” After all, he’d finished No. 204 on last season’s FedExCup list, missing out on both the Tour’s playoffs and Korn Ferry Tour Finals (by four spots). At one point earlier this year, Watney missed the cut in 18 straight individual events – that discouraging streak actually began at last fall’s Sanderson – and a T-11 alongside Charley Hoffman at the Zurich Classic was the only bright spot during that stretch.

“I was in such a deep hole,” Watney said of last season’s struggles.

Looking to dig his way…

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