Snedeker closes with 69, then waits to see if it's enough
SAN DIEGO, Calif. — Brandt Snedeker called it one of the best rounds he ever played, one he doubts he could repeat if he had to start over. Still to be determined was whether his 3-under 69 in a raging wind and occasional rain Sunday at Torrey Pines would be good enough to win the Farmers Insurance Open.
He has to wait until Monday to find out.
Not long after Snedeker finished, the final round was suspended for the third and final time because of unplayable conditions. The wind was so fierce that the South Course was evacuated as the gusts started to push out windows in tents.
"It's like playing a British Open on a U.S. Open setup," Snedeker said.
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In gusts that frequently topped 40 mph, he delivered a major performance. Snedeker played the final 17 holes without a bogey. Of the 23 players who finished the round, 11 of them shot in the 80s and their average score was 78.9.
Snedeker's one regret was not getting up-and-down for birdie on the par-5 18th hole, fearing that might leave him short of another unlikely victory at Torrey Pines.
He posted at 6-under 282.
As he stood on the 18th tee with the wind at his back, the final group of Jimmy Walker, K.J. Choi and Scott Brown were above him on the ninth tee headed in the other direction. When play was halted, Walker was at 7 under, one shot ahead of Snedeker and Choi. The final group was through 10 holes.
"This course is so tough," Snedeker said. "It's blowing 25 mph, gusting out there and windy and rainy conditions. It's really tough. I wish I could say why I shot what I shot today. It was one of those days where you throw everything out of your mind and go play golf land grind as best as you possibly could."
The next best score to Snedeker was a 73 by Shane Lowry of Ireland.
There already were 11 rounds in the 80s, and there was certain to be many more. The South Course is a beast in reasonable weather. Throw in the wind and rain, especially on the holes exposed by the bluffs along the Pacific, and this was as tough as it gets.
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Billy Horschel hit a 5-iron on the par-3 third hole, which played 147 yards straight downhill. He came up well short of the green. In the same group, Colt Knost hit a long putt that actually blew slightly backward into the hole.
"The first six holes were the hardest I've ever played in," said Chad Campbell, who grew up in West Texas and made no apologies for his 79 while playing alongside Snedeker. "Brandt played one of the best rounds I've ever seen. I don't think he missed a shot."
Snedeker started the final round six shots out of the lead. He won at Torrey Pines in 2012 by rallying from seven shots in the final round, needing help from a triple bogey by Kyle Stanley on the final hole to beat him in a playoff.
This time, he got some help from the elements.
"To shoot 69 on a day like today, I knew I had to have a forecast like this to have a chance," Snedeker said.
He also needed a few good putts. After missing a 15-foot par putt on the opening hole, Snedeker bore down and kept his round from getting away by knocking in a 35-foot par putt on the fourth hole that runs along the ocean, and then a 15-foot par putt on the next hole. When he made the turn, he was off to the races.
The tee on the par-4 12th, the toughest at Torrey, was moved up 56 yards to play at 448 yards. Snedeker hit his approach to a foot, and then rolled in a 40-foot birdie putt on the par-5 13th. He made his fourth birdie in five holes with an approach to 12 feet on No. 14 and then hung on.
"But that chip shot will probably be weighing on my mind," Snedeker said.
His approach to the par-5 18th with the wind at his back bounced hard and over the green. The wind was in his face. The thick grass was into him, and Snedeker was worried about coming up short and leaving a long birdie putt down the hill. He was a little aggressive, and the chip rolled just off the green.
Still, it was hard to complain about a 69 in weather typically only found on links courses at The Open Championship.
"I couldn't do it again," Snedeker said. "I don't know how I did it."
It will be the second Monday finish in four years at the Farmers Insurance Open. Fog was the culprit in 2013 when Tiger Woods won by four shots.