Brandt Snedeker is the winner of the 2012 Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines after a two-hole playoff over Kyle Stanley. Stanley had a three shot lead on the 18th tee but his third shot to the green spun back into the water. A penalty drop, a wedge and three putts later, the playoff was on. Snedeker’s up-and-down for par on the second playoff hole was enough to win after Stanley three-putted for bogey.
With his victory, his third on Tour in his career, Snedeker extended the streak of 21 consecutive events at Torrey Pines where the champion was a former winner on Tour. Jay Don Blake was the last first-time winner at this event in 1991. That’s a stat worth remembering.
Snedeker made six birdies on Sunday against one bogey for a five-under par 67 which tied the best round of the day (Bud Cauley). He finished the four days T2 in birdies with 24. After staking a wedge to 11 inches on 18 on Sunday, his 24th birdie at the time looked like it would be good enough for second alone. It’s a funny old game sometimes.
Golfers who can putt can make tons of birdies. Snedeker was in the top 12 in the three major putting categories at the end of the week: Strokes-gained putting, Putts per round and Putts per GIR. It didn’t hurt that he also hit 17 of 18 GIR on Sunday as well.
Déjà vu All Over Again?
After having off-season hip surgery, Snedeker has had a flying start to this season. He made 23 birdies last week and 24 more birdies this week. Golf Channel mentioned that he rehabbed by walking and carrying his own bag this offseason to get ready for 2012. So far, so good with T8 last week and the WIN this week.
If he wasn’t on your radar, he has to be now. This also marks his third consecutive top 10 at Torrey Pines so I suggest you make a note of that as well for next year. I am. He’s had two hip surgeries in 13 months, one on each hip. If he continues to play this well, he might need to find something else to have operated on next offseason!
Young Guns vs Old Guns
In four tournaments to start the 2012 season, we have seen the “old”, Steve Stricker, age 44 and Mark Wilson, age 37 and the kinda-but-not-really-young-but-neither-old-just-in-their-prime-type guys like Johnson Wagner, 31 and now Brandt Snedeker, also age 31, win tournaments. When are the young guns going to break through in 2012?
Kyle Stanley: A cruel and unusual way (think Robert Garrigus at St Jude 2010) for this young man to have to learn a lesson on the PGA Tour. But as Brandt Snedeker and a whole host of other successful Tour pros will tell him, it’s probably for the best. Off the top of my head, Nick Watney at Whistling Straits in the 2010 PGA. Dustin Johnson at Pebble in the US Open. Rory McIlroy last year at Augusta. Aaron Baddeley at Oakmont in the US Open. And Brandt Snedeker at The Masters in. Big numbers happen in final rounds of all tournaments. Those players have since gone on to win a Major, a WGC, a FedExCup event and register multiple other wins on Tour.
Stanley went through a tough finish last year at John Deere when the veteran Steve Stricker laced an amazing fairway-bunker shot to 30 feet and then made a huge putt to beat him. What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. Stanley was 11th in the all-around category last year yet was 161st in total putting. Finished 34th on the FedExCup points list as well. Did I mention he was a rookie? The former Ben Hogan Award winner will rebound. At 24, he’ll look back at this and laugh one day. It’s just not very funny right now.
John Rollins: Finishing third alone gave him his second top 10 in three weeks on Tour, sandwiched was a T66 last week at Humana. How’s this for a recipe for success? He was T2 in driving accuracy, T4 in GIR and T2 in birdies for the week. He has played 11 of 12 rounds under par this season. He now has my attention.
Bill Haas: I wasn’t high on Bill coming into this week after his T64 last week in the desert. His 11 birdies in round one at the easier North Course put him in a nice position, nine-under par, for the final three rounds. He carded 70, 71, 72 on the South Course to finish T4. Four bogeys in the first 11 holes on Sunday kept him from challenging at the very top. It was his first top-10 of the season and his first top-10 in his last five starts. Starting to get loose.
Cameron Tringale: What a difference a year makes! Last year, he led the field in bogeys. This year, he finishes T4. Sometimes a little experience can go a long way. The man from up the road in Mission Viejo was second in strokes-gained putting for the week and only made 8 bogeys. It also didn’t hurt that he was T8 in GIR.
Hunter Mahan: Making his first start of the season and picking up right where he left off in 2011. Mahan had three top-sevens in his final three events last year and Sunday’s T6 keeps that streak rolling right along. Steady off the tee, excellent iron player and a reliable putter, the only part of his game that let him down this week was his bunker play where he was just 1 out of 6 from the sand. Hop on for the ride.
John Huh: Let’s all do this joke together: HUH? There, much better. After never playing on the Nationwide or PGA Tours, he’s found himself a top 10 at Torrey Pines with T6. He finished 53rd at the Sony in his other start of this young season. Played his way on to the Tour by winning his card at Q-School.
Justin Leonard: New sticks in the bag for 2012 as he has moved from Nike to Taylor Made. Finished T12 in GIR so I guess he likes what he’s found! He’s made the cut in all three events he’s played this season. Only two rounds in 12 over par this season. It’s too early to tell if his Renaissance has started after finishing 126th on the money list last year.
D.A. Points: Make it three consecutive top 10’s here at Torrey Pines (T8, 5th, T9) for the man off to a flying start in 2012. He only made one bogey on Sunday to go along with his two birdies to finish T8. Points now has finished in the top 12 three times to begin the season. He will defend at Pebble coming up next month. Is this all Bill Murray’s fault?
Vijay Singh: He just won’t go away. Now that he’s reported to be healthy again, the Big Fijian will be looking to improve on his career win total. Vijay turns 48 next month and has been a victim of the same stat that has kept Jim Furyk and Tiger Woods down: None of these three players have won a Tour event after winning the FedExCup Championship. That’s just weird. And true.
Rickie Fowler: Not a bad showing for his first time out in 2012. He has also changed equipment moving to Cobra woods and irons. Finished T13 and still looking for his first win on Tour. He only made four bogeys on the South Course in three rounds. We will see if the new clubs help him breakthrough in 2012.
Bryce Molder: I jumped off him this week after missing the cut at Humana and missing four consecutive cuts at Torrey leading into this week. His T13 makes it five top 13’s in his last six tournaments dating back to the fall of last year. I could watch him putt all day.
Stewart Cink: After only having one top 10 in 2011, Cink has started 2012 off with two top 30 finishes including T13 this week. Being T2 in GIR makes golf much easier and the former Open champion is trending in the right direction.
Bud Cauley: It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Cauley has three top 30’s to start the 2012 season. He carded a five-under 67 to tie Brandt Snedeker for the low round of the day on Sunday. Straight out of the University of Alabama last summer, Cauley did not go to Q-School or the Nationwide Tour; he took the opportunities given to him and played his way straight on to the Tour. He obviously has game and is continuing to play well. Pay attention before it’s too late.
Bubba Watson: The defending champion led the field in Driving Distance again and was fourth in GIR but he didn’t dominate the par fives like he did last year. After a quiet start at Kapalua, Watson hits the board here with T13. Remember, only J.C. Snead, Tiger and Phil have successfully defended their titles here.
“Hey, what ever happened to…”
Nick Watney: He entered the weekend at seven-under but could never get it going on Saturday and Sunday. He was crooked with the driver and that led to not hitting many GIR and a T60. Watney made 10 bogeys to five birdies on the weekend and didn’t contend.
Phil Mickelson: His record here is impeccable but his play this week was not. After coming off a quiet T46 in the desert, most people, including myself, thought he would fire this week. The driver didn’t cooperate. His irons weren’t crisp and he took 61 putts in two rounds. Cut.
Dustin Johnson: Coming off a WD last week after 27 holes, I was skeptical about his early season performance. He made the cut and played all four rounds without incident. His putter was ice cold but he had no problems getting it long, as usual, off the tee and was in the top 20 in GIR. If his injuries are behind him, he’s too good to ignore. T43.
Ernie Els: Also finished T43 and also struggled on the greens. This has been a common dilemma for Els over the last few years. Still hits plenty of GIR to be a factor down the road.
Gary Woodland: Finished 24th of 27 at Hyundai. He finished MDF T74 this weekend in his second start of the season. He hits it a mile, “stupid long” I believe is the technical term, and hits tons of GIR. The main weakness that he and new coach Butch Harman must work on is finding a way to make more putts. If he gets that figured out, get out of the way.