LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England –- Just like that, Brandt Snedeker went from bogey-free to bogey spree.
The midway leader played the first 40 holes of the 141st Open Championship without an over-par score. Then he made five bogeys on the next seven holes and found himself six strokes off Adam Scott’s pace through 11 holes of the third round.
“I fought my swing all day,” Snedeker said.
The good news for him, though, is despite all that sloppiness in a six-bogey, 3-over 73, the affable, fast-talking Tennessean finds himself tied for second, four strokes behind the 54-hole leader Scott.
“I still have a chance,” he said moments after holing a 30-foot, left-to-right slider for birdie at 18.
Before his Sunday tee time, though, he’ll have to sort out his swing and let go of a foul mood. He knows that.
“It was very frustrating,” said Snedeker, who wore a black ribbon on his white visor in honor of victims in the mass shooting in Colorado. “I’m not happy with it at all.”
Two late birdies, though, salvaged a horrible round and kept him in contention. He also birdied the 16th, from 10 feet. Still, when he finished he was upset that his swing was off, even during that closing stretch.
“I didn’t hit the ball very solid and didn’t putt well,” said Snedeker, who had opened 66-64. “It was one of those days where you just shake your head. I hate that.”
When he cleared his head for a moment afterward, he focused on the positive. Namely this: Snedeker has a history of coming from behind on Sunday and winning.
Nine strokes behind with 16 holes left at this year’s Farmers Insurance Open, Snedeker overhauled Kyle Stanley and won in a playoff. That continued a trend. Snedeker won last year’s Heritage with a closing 64 after starting six behind and the 2007 Greensboro event with a final 63 after trailing by five.
“I know I’m not far off,” he said of his game Saturday night. “I know it’s in there. And I’ve come from farther behind before.”
Snedeker walked off the fifth green tied for the lead at 9 under. But he exited the 11th hole six strokes behind leader Scott and in a tie for third. During that stretch, Scott made three birdies and Snedeker four bogeys.
His troubles began when he missed a 3-foot par putt at the 219-yard fifth. He bogeyed the next, a 492-yard brute, when missing the fairway and green and playing backwards out of a greenside pot bunker. After a 7-foot birdie putt at No. 7, he made bogey from the fairway to Scott’s birdie at the eighth and fell three shots back. Snedeker then bogeyed the par-3 ninth from a right pot bunker and lipped out a 4-footer at the 598-yard 11th.
“The putter is what really let me down,” Snedeker said.
After two pars, he drove into weeds on the left side, wedged down the 14th fairway and dropped another shot, this one putting him six back at 5 under. After a good drive, he avoided a seventh bogey at the 462-yard 15th, where a 20-foot par save made up for a weak approach into a pot bunker short right.
When he bounced back with the 10-footer at the 336-yard 16th, he smiled and held up his arms out to the side for a couple of seconds, as if to say, “Finally, after all that.” Then, before birdieing the last, he avoided bogey at 17, where he yanked a fairway iron approach into a pot bunker but hit a long blast tight.
Snedeker’s slide came on an otherwise beautiful day–calm, sunny, blue-sky weather. But errant shots on a difficult links course can darken one’s thoughts.
“The course is not easy,” Snedeker said. “If you don’t drive it in play, you’re going to struggle. And I didn’t do that.”
There was that silver lining, though.
“I could’ve easily turned a 3-over round into an 8-over round,” he said, finding gratitude after a messy performance.