American Brandt Snedeker separated himself from 54-hole co-leader James Hahn and the rest of the field as he won the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am by two shots on Sunday. Fellow countryman Chris Kirk was second two shots behind followed by three more Americans, Kevin Stadler, Jimmy Walker and Hahn, three further shots back. Snedeker converted 22 birdies and an eagle en route to a record, winning score of 19-under-par 267, breaking the old mark of 268. He began the day tied with Hahn but he made his intentions known early as he played his first seven holes in five-under to break away. In 36 holes on Pebble Beach on Saturday and Sunday, Snedeker only had time to find three bogeys. That’s winning golf. Snedeker closed up shop on Sunday in excellent fashion as he fired 65, the second best round of the day (Molder, 64), to claim 500 FedExCup points and $1,170,000 for his fifth victory on TOUR. This was his third victory in 13 months (2012 FIO, 2012 TOUR Championship, 2013 AT&T Pebble Beach).
What a whirlwind 13 months it’s been for Snedeker. He opened 2012 after hip surgery and won in his second start. He missed a month in the summer due to a rib injury. He almost won The Open Championship (T3); he missed the cut at the PGA Championship. When the FedExCup Playoffs came around, Snedeker turned it on, finishing second at the Barclays and sixth at the Deutsche Bank before winning The TOUR Championship. In 2013, he picked up right where he left off by finishing third at the HTOC, T23 at Humana, T2 at the Farmers and second last week in Phoenix. His worst finish in his last 12 events (including unofficial) is T37. In 15 rounds in 2013, he’s played 12 of them under 70. That’s doing work.
After finishing runner up the last two weeks to Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, we all assumed that Snedeker would be in with a shout this weekend again and he was. He has shown last year and into this year that he belongs in ANY conversation in big boy golf. With this victory, he moves to No. 4 in the OWGR. Snedeker has always been one of the best putters on TOUR but this year his ball-striking has been off the charts as he’s chalking up more fairways and more greens that he did in a season where he won almost $15 million (FedExCup bonus included, yes) last year. So let me get this straight: The best putter is now hitting MORE fairways to give him MORE chances at hitting greens so he can hole MORE putts? Since 2011, only Rory McIlroy (five) has more wins than Snedeker (four) and Woods (four). I’m excited to see where this start takes Snedeker the rest of the season. He doesn’t look or sound complacent or satisfied so that’s great for gamers.
Déjà vu All Over Again?
For the second week in a row, the tournament record was broken.
In six events to start 2013, the 54-hole leader (or co-leader) has gone on to win the tournament five times.
In six events to start 2013, all six winners have been Americans.
Brandt Snedeker has won for the third consecutive year on TOUR.
He becomes the only player since to win after finishing runner-up in consecutive weeks since 1990. That season, Mark Calcavecchia was P2, second and second in three straight weeks. Wow.
The five winners on TOUR have been Johnson (28), Henley (24), Gay (41), Woods (37), Mickelson (42) and now Snedeker (32). We’re off to a balanced start here in 2013 as the Youth (30 and under), the Middle (30 to 40) and the Old (40-plus) all have posted two wins.
Here’s who hit the top 10 and what we learned about them:
Chris Kirk: After a T5 to open the season at the Sony, Kirk returned to the top 10 again this week after firing 64 (MPCC) and 66 on the weekend to finish second. In 15 rounds this season his worst is 71 (three times) as everything else has been in the 60s. If Kirk handled the Poa annua this week he should be raring to go at Riviera next week.
Kevin Stadler: Three straight rounds of 69 put Stadler in a decent position to hit the top 25 but his 65 on Sunday found him on the podium (T3) instead. Similar to Kirk, Stadler also has not posted a round higher than 71 on this young season and backed up his T11 last week in Phoenix with his best finish on TOUR since his playoff loss at the Wyndham Championship in 2009.
Jimmy Walker: I have been following Walker closely once I heard he spent the off-season working with Butch Harmon. After finishing T9 the last two years at Pebble Beach, Walker improved to T3 with 67-66 on the weekend. Known for his length and solid putter, Harmon is looking to round out Walker’s game and so far, the results have been pretty solid. He’s five-for-five to start 2013 and his worst round is 72. He adds this T3 to his T4 at the Farmers (both Poa annua greens people!) and heads to LA (Poa annua greens people!) where he’s been T4 the last two years. Got all that? Good. Ink pen. Write him down.
James Hahn: The 31-year-old rookie was the co-leader after 54-holes but couldn’t keep pace with the smoking hot Snedeker on Sunday. If any day he would have needed a final round 62, today would have been it. He’s already done that TWICE this year! Anyhoo, Hahn showed his intention on Sunday by bringing Spyglass Hill, the toughest of the three courses in play this week, to its knees with a third-round, bogey-free 66 on Saturday. Hahn might be a rookie but if he continues to swing like that, he could find his way into your line-up this week if he gets in to the Northern Trust. Stay tuned to Rotoworld.com for details.
Jason Day: The young Aussie, one of my favorites, has now hit the top 10 for the second time in three events in 2013 with his sixth place finish this week. He looks to be settling in to life in America and back into his golf. He led the field in GIR this week and that’s encouraging because it’s usually his super-steady putter that is doing the damage. I say this every week, but I have to keep remembering that he was the runner-up at Augusta AND Congressional just two years ago at 23. There tons of upside here.
Fredrik Jacobson: “The Junkman” knocked his rust off last weekend and Phoenix and was back to his old tricks this week at Pebble Beach as he was fourth in strokes-gained putting to finish T7 this week. His T7 finish was his best on TOUR since his win at the Travelers in June of 2011.
Patrick Reed: The man who was most famous last season for qualifying on Monday achieved his highest finish of his young career with a T7 this week. That will be a huge boost for his confidence and his standing once they reshuffle later this year. For all information on the reshuffle, please follow my comrade @RobBoltonGolf.
Patrick Cantlay: Played a beautiful, bogey-free 67 on Sunday to tie his best PGA TOUR finish, T9. Cantlay, who left UCLA before the start of last season, will have to make the most of his sponsor’s exemptions and Monday qualifiers because he doesn’t have status on the TOUR. Read more about Cantlay’s status here. He’s playing next week at Riviera, though.
James Driscoll: We had a prescient chat reader ask us on Wednesday about James Driscoll’s chances this week. Coming into this event, his best finish of 2013 was T51 at the Farmers. This is his first top 10 since the Wells Fargo last May, his second of two in 2012. Driscoll now adds T9 to his T13 and T14 finishes in the last six years. Nice tip, chatter!
Retief Goosen: Back surgery in the off-season hasn’t slowed down Goosen who has shown no issues in returning to tournament golf in 2013. After warming up in the desert, Goosen made his US debut this week and his T9 finish moves him into a much better position for starts the rest of the year. Also, according to Rotoworld.com, Goosen will change his focus back to playing more in the US this season which is good for those of you gamers who have already invested in him in salary games for 2013.