Snedeker battled anxious moments without hitting a shot
February 01, 2016
- February 01, 2016
- After doing plenty of hard work Sunday and waiting Monday, Brandt Snedeker can finally enjoy his victory. (Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO – Brandt Snedeker won the Farmers Insurance Open without hitting a shot Monday. He didn’t need to after a fantastic 69 in the previous day’s trying conditions.
Snedeker spent Monday morning nervously pacing around the library in his hotel while the final groups played Torrey Pines’ finishing holes in a stiff wind. Snedeker started the day one shot behind leader Jimmy Walker, who had to play eight holes.
The rain that hit Torrey Pines hard the previous day didn’t continue into Monday, but the high winds, which knocked down large trees throughout the course, were still present. The clubhouse proved to be the best place to be in those tough conditions, as Snedeker’s 6-under 282 held up for the victory.
“This has probably been the most nerve wracking four hours I've had on TOUR, just because of the lack of control I had over everything that's going to happen today,” he said. “I had no idea what to expect.”
Snedeker was giving post-round interviews Sunday when play was delayed for the final time. He finished his round about 15 minutes before the horn blew. That meant waiting nearly 24 hours without hitting a shot. Monday’s play didn’t begin until 10 a.m. as crews cleaned up the damage from the high winds.
Before he began warming up for a possible playoff, Snedeker said he “probably paced a hole in the carpet.” Snedeker was the winner after Choi’s long birdie try at the final hole of regulation failed to drop.
Well, this is way worse than playing.. Don't know how players families do this..— Brandt Snedeker (@BrandtSnedeker) February 1, 2016
This was Snedeker’s eighth PGA TOUR victory, and first since the 2015 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. He is now No. 2 in the FedExCup, 60 points behind leader Kevin Kisner, after finishing in the top three in his three consecutive starts.
Snedeker’s 69 ended up being the only under-par score of the final round, which played to a 77.9 average. It was the highest fourth-round scoring average in a non-major since 1983.
Snedeker made the cut this week without a shot to spare, but shot 5-under 139 on the weekend (70-69). He started the final round in 27th place, six shots behind leaders K.J. Choi and Scott Brown.
Five of Snedeker’s eight PGA TOUR wins have been in come-from-behind fashion. This was the fourth time that he’s made up a final-round deficit of five or more strokes. He won the 2012 Farmers Insurance Open after starting the final round seven strokes behind leader Kyle Stanley.
“It says that I don't give up, I keep grinding until the last putt goes in and I take pride in that,” Snedeker said. “And that's the only way I'm successful out here, because I never give up, I realize there's always a chance.”
Walker made four bogeys and four pars Monday. Choi, who started the day tied with Snedeker for second, made just one bogey, saving par several times with a strong short game.
There was one important difference, though. The wind had switched directions from Sunday, making many of the final holes play into the wind. K.J. Choi, who played alongside Walker, hit fairway wood or hybrid for three of his first five approach shots Monday. Walker hit fairway wood into No. 15. Snedeker hit wedge into the hole one day earlier.
“I feel bad for them,” Snedeker said. “They got the raw end of the stick this morning. But (that is) just the way golf goes and luckily enough, I played good enough yesterday to get the job done.”
Brandt Snedeker news conference after winning the Farmers Insurance Open
K.J. Choi was coming off the worst year of his career, having finished 152nd in the FedExCup and failing to record a top-10. He nearly claimed his first victory since THE PLAYERS Championship 2011, though.
Choi was left with long approach shots into the wind, but strong play with his hybrids and fairway woods, and some good short-game shots, allowed him to stay in contention until the final hole of the Farmers Insurance Open. He made seven pars and one bogey in the eight holes he played Monday.
Choi needed to make birdie at the final hole to tie Snedeker. He had 115 yards remaining for his third shot to the par-5 and elected to hit an 8-iron into the wind to keep the ball from spinning too much. He hit the shot too far, though. His ball came to rest on the green’s upper tier, and he failed to make his long birdie putt.
Choi, a Vice Captain at last year’s Presidents Cup in South Korea, said he now has his sights on representing his country in the Olympics.
“I want to play, but I need to have wins,” Choi said. “That’s why I’m training the last two months, three months very hard.”
Choi’s runner-up finish was his best since 2014, when he finished second twice, including at this event. He also finished second at the Travelers Championship in June, which was his last top-10 before this week. Choi now ranks 22nd in the FedExCup.
Jimmy Walker, who started the day with a one-shot lead, finished fourth after making four bogeys and four pars Monday.
It was Walker’s fourth top-10 in his past five starts at Torrey Pines.
“It played really tough. We got out there and all of a sudden the wind started blowing again and we just finished into the wind,” Walker said. “It was tough.”
Walker, who has finished in the top 15 in three consecutive starts, is No. 34 in the FedExCup.
Brandt Snedeker, who was born in Tennessee, thrives on the West Coast. Four of his eight victories have come on the poa annua greens in California. He’s won two times apiece at the Farmers Insurance Open (2016, 2012) and the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (2015, 2013).
One of the game’s best putters, Snedeker ranks seventh in strokes gained: putting this season, and he thinks there are two reasons why he thrives on poa annua, which is known for getting bumpy in the afternoon.
“What I love most about poa annua is you have to be aggressive and you have to hit a putt almost perfect,” said Snedeker, who’s known for his “pop” putting stroke and the aggressive pace with which he hits his putts. “You have to give it a chance to go in, you have to get it rolling hard on the green. And I think that's what my stroke does best, because I hit them aggressive, get the ball rolling really fast. When you do that, the ball holds its line. If you miss a putt a little bit, or hit a weak putt, it's going to bump off.
“And I love it because it eliminates half the guys, because they don't like it and they don't want to be on it. … That's why I love it. I think it kind of identifies, A, who is rolling it great and, B, who is mentally strong enough to handle a couple putts that don't go in.”
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Last two winners on the PGA TOUR.— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 1, 2016
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It's definitely Monday for this bird. https://t.co/YNunXWwu1e— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 1, 2016