5 Things: Snedeker wins after Stanley's triple
Monday, January 30, 2012
Five things you need to know from the Farmers Insurance Open, where Brandt Snedeker earned his third career victory in an unlikely fashion:
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1. Comeback tale: Brandt Snedeker thought his day was done. He was in the media center, thinking he’d just completed another high finish at Torrey Pines. Kyle Stanley was three shots ahead with only the reachable par-5 18th on the South Course to play.
Then the unthinkable happened. Stanley laid up, then spun his wedge shot into the lake fronting the green. After a drop and another wedge shot, he three-putted from 43 feet for triple bogey. Stanley missed a 4-foot putt that would have given him a one-shot win.
Stanley and Snedeker both birdied the 18th to open the playoff. Stanley hit the green on the next playoff hole, the par-3 16th, while Snedeker hit his approach over the green.
Snedeker chipped to 5 feet and holed the putt. Stanley followed by missing his 4-foot par putt.
“It’s just crazy,” Snedeker said. “To get my mind around what happened in the last 30 minutes is hard to do. My heart goes out to Kyle, to have to go through this.”
Snedeker started the day seven strokes behind Stanley, who began the final round with a five-shot lead on the field. Stanley had a six-shot lead with nine holes remaining.
Snedeker started the week at No. 33 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
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2. It's all in the hips: Snedeker’s win comes less than three months after having surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right hip. He didn’t start playing golf regularly until New Year’s Day. There wasn’t much rust to shake off.
He was scheduled to debut at the Farmers Insurance Open, but entered last week’s Humana Challenge after an encouraging two weeks of practice. He tied for eighth in the California desert, then he added to his fond memories at Torrey Pines.
Snedeker took the first-round lead there as a rookie in 2007, shooting 61 on the North Course. He finished ninth in the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.
He got into Sunday’s playoff by hitting his 90-yard approach shot on the final hole to 11 inches and making birdie. On the first playoff hole, Snedeker hit a similar approach to 3 feet to match Stanley’s birdie. Stanley holed a 3-foot birdie putt after getting up-and-down from behind the green.
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3. Stunned Stanley: Sunday seemed like it was going to be the Kyle Stanley Show. Stanley, a 24-year-old in his second season on the PGA Tour, started the final round with a five-shot lead. His 18-under 198 total matched Tiger Woods’ 54-hole tournament record (post-South Course renovation).
Stanley’s lead was six shots when he two-putted for birdie on the par-5 ninth. A series of clutch par putts – a 13-footer on No. 14, 5-footer on No. 15 and 8-footer on the 16th – kept him three ahead as he came to the final hole.
He three-putted from 43 feet on the final hole, missing a 4-foot putt for the outright victory. Another missed 4-footer, this time to three-putt the 16th, kept him from extending the playoff.
“I’m kind of in shock right now,” Stanley said. “I don’t know what to say.”
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4. From California to Qatar: Hunter Mahan tied for fifth in his PGA Tour debut of 2012. He was headed from San Diego to Qatar, where he was scheduled to play in the European Tour’s Qatar Masters. Playing there meant Mahan would miss the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he won just two years ago. Both events begin Thursday. The Qatar field also includes Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, Jason Day, Graeme McDowell, K.J. Choi and Sergio Garcia.
Mahan was one of several players who waited until the season’s fourth week to make their 2012 debut. Rickie Fowler finished 13th in his first event of the season. Ernie Els tied for 52nd after finishing second in the previous week’s Volvo Golf Champions in South Africa. He didn’t arrive in California until Wednesday morning.
J.B. Holmes missed the cut with rounds of 76-69 in his first event back from brain surgery.
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5. Rookie makes a run: John Huh closed in style to post the best finish by a rookie in 2012. Huh holed a 63-foot birdie putt from the back fringe on No. 18 to finish T-6. It was the first top-10 in 2012 by a rookie.
Huh, 21, was born in New York. His family moved to South Korea two months later. He lived there until he was 12, when his family moved to Chicago. He attended high school in the Los Angeles area, then went to Cal State-Northridge for a couple weeks. He stopped attending when he wasn’t cleared for athletic competition. Huh turned pro at 18 and was the Korean Tour’s rookie of the year in 2010. He graduated from the recent Q-School.
Huh played in the final group with Stanley and John Rollins.
Another rookie, Bud Cauley finished 13th, his third consecutive top-30 finish to start the year.