By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LA JOLLA, Calif. -- With its 7,698 yards of real estate, the South Course isn't one where Brandt Snedeker might be expected to play well. After all, he ranked 108th in driving distance last year, averaging just over 288 yards a poke.
Maybe so, but Snedeker has a darn good record at Torrey Pines, where he has now played 23 rounds and shot 52 under. He won the Farmers Insurance Open there a year ago, finished third in his 2007 debut and has two more top-10 in six starts.
And Snedeker found himself atop the leaderboard once again after Thursday's first round when he shot a 65 on the North Course where he owns a share of the record 61. He's tied with K.J. Choi, whose round of 7 under came on the South, and the two are one stroke ahead of eight others.
Snedeker now turns his attention to the South where he will play the next three rounds.
"This is a long, difficult golf course with lots of rough and hitting a lot of iron shots, and my strengths is driving and putting so, it doesn't really add up well around here," Snedeker acknowledged. "But for some reason it's been good to me. I always seem to be starting the year, I'm always really fresh. The game always feels sharp, so the west coast has always been good to me."
Any why shouldn't Snedeker have confidence at Torrey Pines? On Thursday the reigning FedExCup champion hit nine of 14 fairways all but three greens in regulation. The man who leads the TOUR in strokes-gained putting needed just 27, as well including five clutch ones for par that kept the round alive.
"I have no problems adjusting to these greens whatsoever," Snedeker said. "I come in hitting the ball right speed, reading the right lines, and when you do that, and you have that kind of confidence, it kind of bleeds into the rest of your game. So I never really panic around here. I always know I'm one round away from playing really well. So it kind of all blends into being a great fit for me."
The key for Snedeker, who is coming off a career-defining year, is staying patient. And his comfort zone at Torrey Pines allows him to stay in the moment more than he might at other courses.
"I always feel like my next good break is right around the corner, " Snedeker said.