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Lucky bounces help Brandt Snedeker shoot 68 at Bay Hill

Brandt Snedeker has seen some crazy bounces at Bay Hill’s 18th hole, but none like the two he received Thursday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Snedeker was 3 under through his first right holes when he hit his approach shot into the green at the 460-yard par 4. Snedeker’s shot from 163 yards came up short of the green, took two bounces on the rocks and then ended up 5 feet, 6 inches from the hole.

“I’ve never seen that happen before,” Snedeker said. “I’ve seen some crazy bounces there before, but none like that.”

However, Snedeker was kicking himself after the round because after the pair of lucky bounces, he missed the birdie putt.

“That’s probably why I’m so upset,” Snedeker said, laughing. “I got the hard part over with; hit the rocks twice to 5 feet underneath the hole, straight up the hill, and hit a terrible putt and missed it.”

Snedeker missed three putts from inside 7 feet on Thursday, including one from 2 feet, 7 inches on the par-3 seventh. But overall, Snedeker was pleased with his 4-under 68, a round that included five birdies and some solid iron play.

“Best I’ve hit my irons all year long,” said Snedeker, who recently made the switch to Bridgestone J15 irons after about four years playing the Bridgestone J40 irons.

“I wanted to put them in before Augusta, so I wanted to make sure that I tried them before then. … I’m kind of an old guy who does not like changing anything at all; keep the variables to a minimum. When they’re better, then you gotta play them, and they’ve been better every time I’ve tested them. I’ve just been stubborn.

“Finally, I was hitting (my irons) bad enough after last week and said this is the time to (switch). It was a welcomed change.”

Speaking of Augusta, Snedeker said he originally had planned to play the Valero Texas Open next week, then take a week off before the Masters. But after winning at Pebble Beach, he got into the WGC-Cadillac Championship and had to adjust.

“I would love to go to San Antonio because I think the golf course is great and they have great sponsors there,” said Snedeker, who is making his eighth PGA Tour start in nine weeks, “but my body needs a rest.”

He didn’t show signs of fatigue on Thursday, gaining 4.885 strokes tee to green and hitting all but three greens. He didn’t putt too well (-1.207 strokes gained-putting), but still signed for a 68 on the scorecard – his playing competitors Henrik Stenson and Billy Horschel also shot 68.

And, of course, there was that two-shot swing on the 18th.

“That obviously made my day,” Snedeker said.

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