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Brandt Snedeker to rely on experience amid packed leaderboard at Valero Texas Open

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Brandt Snedeker to rely on experience amid packed leaderboard at Valero Texas Open

The nine-time TOUR winner shares lead with Beau Hossler, Dylan Frittelli and J.J. Spaun

    Written by Kevin Robbins

    Four tied at the top after Round 3 at Valero

    SAN ANTONIO — The leaderboard late Saturday at the Valero Texas Open reflected youth and experience, from those without a PGA TOUR title to those with many.

    What they had in common: Most have yet to qualify for the Masters. And they can do that by winning here.

    Charles Howell III, Matt Kuchar and Brandt Snedeker, all of them in their 40s and all of them not currently in the Masters field, will play late in the fourth round at TPC San Antonio. Snedeker birdied two of the last three holes Saturday to finish with a share of the lead at 10 under par.

    “Hopefully I can pull on a lot of experience,” said Snedeker, 41.

    That he has. Snedeker has won nine times in his career, most recently at the Wyndham Championship in 2018. He’s played in the Masters on 12 occasions, including in 2021, when he finished 59th. Kuchar, 43, and Howell, 42, also played at Augusta National last year. Howell tied for 46th. Kuchar missed the cut.

    Kuchar, also a nine-time winner on the TOUR, begins the final round in Texas two shots behind Snedeker. He shot even-par 72 on a hot, breezy Saturday in Texas to finish in sixth alone.

    He knows sixth won’t get him to Augusta.

    “I think quality play trumps anything,” Kuchar said. “I’d take execution over course knowledge any day of the week. I think it’s going to take just quality golf tomorrow to win this thing.”

    Six players were tied at one time early in the third round of the Valero Texas Open, which is celebrating its centennial anniversary. Kuchar birdied three of the first four holes, but a double-bogey on the par-4 ninth stalled his rally. Snedeker made no bogeys in his round of 67, while Howell shot 2-over 38 on the back nine to stall his own.

    He’ll begin the final round at minus 7, three shots behind Snedeker, Beau Hossler, Dylan Frittelli and J.J. Spaun.

    None of those players either has qualified yet for the first major championship of 2022. Howell, who’s made 10 starts in the Masters, understands the stakes.

    “This is the last qualifier for it (the Masters),” Howell said of the 100-year-old tournament in San Antonio. “It’s a big deal. It’ll take a good one (round to win). The golf course is hard enough that it’ll keep you in the present.”

    And that’s exactly where Snedeker found himself Saturday afternoon as he finished a back-nine 32.

    He can summon plenty of good memories of the Valero Texas Open. In just four starts, Snedeker averages 70.25 strokes in the final round — a number that just might be good enough on a fast and firming course in The Oaks.

    Snedeker has never finished worse than 25th at the VTO. He tied for sixth last year and finished in fourth alone in 2011.

    “So I’ll pull on those years of experience out here,” he said. “Tomorrow’s not going to be easy. It never is to win a golf tournament. Knowing that going into it hopefully gives me a little leg up.”

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