Brandt Snedeker began the final round trailing Kyle Stanley by seven shots. He made a run and shot a solid five-under 67. When he signed his scorecard, he thought he was done for the day. He was in the media center for his post-tournament presser at the Farmers Insurance Open and making his opening comments.
“I knew I needed to shoot something low, and got off to a little bit of a slow start, and made some birdies around the turn to get things kicking into gear,” said Snedeker, who finished T8 the week before at the Humana Challenge. “But I was too far back. Kyle had too big a lead.”
Just then, he looked over at the TV next to him, which was showing Stanley’s 77-yard third shot into the par-5 18th.
“Uh‑oh,” said Snedeker.
Just as shocked as everyone else, he watched as Stanley’s ball rolled slowly into the water hazard guarding the front of the green. The transcript for Brandt’s first presser is actually kind of amusing. I mean, he had already resigned to settling for second while Stanley was unraveling not far from the media center.
Q. You’re not done yet.
BRANDT SNEDEKER: That’s three and four, he’s hitting five. How many shot lead does he have?
Q. He’s got three right now.
BRANDT SNEDEKER: We better do this quickly then. I got to get to the putting green in case something happens. But I did really well. Just that one hiccup on 17 that was just, I hit a pretty good tee shot. Kind of went a little the left and had a little knuckleball happen on me. Besides that, I played great.
Q. Would you like to give us commentary on this as it’s going along?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I don’t know where he has to drop it. I think there’s a ball drop there.
Q. Having gone through that to try to get your first win, how hard is that?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: He cannot feel too good right now. He was kind of on cruise control. To have that happen right there, you don’t wish that on anybody. He’s trying to get his first win. His nerves are going crazy, and he hit a pretty good shot. So it will be interesting to see how he finishes it off.
Q. What is going through your mind right now? Do you feel like you need to get back out there?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Yeah, depending on where he hit this is, I’m going to go to the putting green.
When Stanley made the snowman to back his way into the playoff, I think most of us knew Snedeker would likely prevail. I actually didn’t have much doubt.
Snedeker has a habit of showing up out of nowhere on Sunday afternoons, so this wasn’t the first time he’s found himself this kind of situation. Last year at the Heritage in Hilton Head, he shot a final-round 63 to force in an unlikely playoff with Luke Donald.
“I’ve got kind of an M.O. of doing this — being out of it and coming out of nowhere to win,” said Snedeker, who is coming off of having hip surgery less than three months ago.
I remembered how well Snedeker handled himself in those extra holes, along with his clutch putting under pressure. And in that case he was battling Donald, the world’s No. 1. So, to face a young player looking for his first win, this was going to be a breeze for the veteran.
Said Snedeker: “I had won in a playoff on Tour, and I know Kyle probably wasn’t in his best frame of mind at that point after doing what he did on 18.”
As it happened, Snedeker made five-footer for a fantastic up-and-down from behind the green on the second playoff hole, while Stanley missed his four-foot par putt. Not the ideal way anyone wants to win, but Snedeker handled it with grace, saying all the right things and empathizing with Stanley’s unfortunate heartache.
An hour after he had left the media center for his first press conference, Snedeker was back sitting in the same chair, except with the trophy next to him.
“It’s a crazy day is about right,” said Snedeker in his post-win presser. “I went through a whole range of emotions over the last two days, let alone in the last hour and a half. I was sitting in here literally an hour ago and I was completely content with a second place finish. Thought I played well and I was happy with where I was.”
Snedeker, who has now captured three PGA Tour victories, has experienced his own share of heartaches and tough finishes — most notably, the ’08 Masters, where the then-27-year-old wilted in the final round, shooting 77, and bawled afterward talking to reporters.
“Anybody that’s been in that position — I haven’t quite done one like that yet, but I’ve had a couple where I really had some devastating finishes,” he said. “You never want to see anybody go through that. I don’t care who it is, not even your worst enemy on the planet.
“Golf is such a funny game, and to have that kind of lead coming into the last hole and not to win is tough. It will be a tough night for him.”
How long did it take for Brandt to get over the Masters disappointment?
“A while,” he replied, candidly. “It’s hard to put a time on it. I played good at the U.S. Open later that year. But for my second year on Tour, to be thrown into that kind of situation on Sunday and have a chance to win The Masters and it’s a tournament I love more than anything on the planet, and to lose and lose pretty bad, to shoot what I did on Sunday was tough.
“I guess like everything else, you kind of grow out of it. I finally got to the point where I realized I still finished third. Wasn’t the worst thing that happened to me. Maybe better. I’m more prepared for that situation again.”
(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)