Notebook: Snedeker's putter goes cold in second round
KAPALUA, Hawaii – Things were heating up at the Plantation Course. The sun was out, temperatures were up, buckling winds were being handled, and birdies were there for the taking.
Prime time for a guy who can wield the flat stick like Brandt Snedeker.
So, what went wrong?
He shook his head, confounded as anyone.
“The strength of my game is my putter, but it left me,” he said Monday at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. “I missed a bunch of short putts. My speed was off.”
Having posted a morning 70 to sit at 3 under, just one off the lead, Snedeker birdied four of the first six holes in the afternoon and at 6 under he shared the lead at one point, led by himself at another. Then, he stumbled backward.
“I hit it really, really well, never put myself in any real bad spots,” Snedeker said after playing his last 12 holes in level par to shoot another 70. At 6-under 140 he’s tied for fourth headed into today’s final round, but that leaves him five off of Dustin Johnson’s lead.
On the one hand, Snedeker caught glimpses of the scoreboard and saw that Johnson was on a roll.
“All the par-5s are reachable and he can make some hay there, so he can get on a roll,” Snedeker said.
But Snedeker also enjoyed watching playing competitor Steve Stricker shoot 71-67, get to 8 under, and settle into second. Stricker had talked on the range of a soreness in his left leg and how he was hurting, and Snedeker marveled at the way the veteran handled things.
“Maybe it helped him. He swung easy. He played great; he really did.”
Like his 29 competitors, Snedeker had to get used to greens that were exceedingly slow – and for good reason. “The second time we played 10, if they had cut the green we wouldn’t have been able to play,” Snedeker said. The wind, which had forced cancellation of play Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, was in full fury, only balls weren’t moving wildly on the green because of how much more grass had grown.
“The staff did a great job,” Snedeker said,
He only wishes his putter had also been at the top of its game.
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IT AIN’T HEAVY: A round of applause to those who carried for all 36 holes on a demanding golf course, though most of the caddies brushed it off.
Carl Pettersson’s caddie, Grant Berry, gave high praise to the PGA Tour staff for setting up a golf course that allowed for a steady pace of play on a day that asked for 36 holes. No worries, he said.
Nor did Lance Bennett, Matt Kuchar’s caddie, have any issues. He opined that Sugarloaf, the former home of the BellSouth Classic outside of Atlanta, was a rougher walk than the Plantation Course.
Ricky Elliott, Ben Curtis’ caddie, looked refreshed after his 36-hole day.
“I am grand,” he said. “A couple of pints of Guinness will sort me out. It always does.”
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SALUTE THE STAFF: When many of the players woke up around 5 a.m. and heard the wind howling, surely they had some doubts that any golf could be played, and hardly any that 30 players could play 36.
Yet it all played out beautifully and much to players’ pleasure, it appears as if this will be an official tournament, shortened to 54 holes.
“It was totally playable. A hair short, but they had to get us all around,” Pettersson said.
The field average in the morning was 71.967 as 24 players broke par of 73; in the afternoon, the field average was 73.000 and only 13 went into red numbers.
While 10 players posted two sub-par rounds, only three shot over par both morning and afternoon. No one struggled more than Kyle Stanley (78-80), especially on holes 10-13 when he went 9 over.
For the day, there were six eagles, four of them at the par-5 18th, two at the par-4 sixth.
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PREPPING FOR A TOUGH WALK: Knowing they had 36 holes in front of them, players called it an early night Sunday. How early? Kuchar said he had the “blue plate special” with a 5:30 reservation at the Pineapple Grill here at the Kapalua Resort. He thought that was a bit extreme until he showed up and saw that a handful of players were there ahead of him.
Kuchar had a confounding day. He said he felt great warming up and “I hit it very well,” yet he bogeyed three of his first four holes, shot 74, then started his second round with bogeys on five of the first seven holes.
But in the latest example that golf is a mystery, Kuchar caught fire. He played his last 10 holes in 7 under, capped off by a 2 1/2-foot eagle putt at 18, courtesy of a scintillating 4-iron from 230 yards.
At 1 under, Kuchar is tied for 14th.
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SHORT SHOTS: Following up his morning 72 with a birdie at the 10th, Jason Dufner pushed to 2 under, just two off the lead. But he followed with bogeys on five of the next 17 holes, shot 77, and plummeted into a share of 24th. . . . Keegan Bradley went 6 under for the day, 7 under on the par 5s. . . . Johnson played the back in 9 under. . . . Toughest holes to birdie? The honor was shared by the par-4 first, par-3 eighth, and par-3 11th, all with three. On the flip side, the par-5 18th was the easiest hole; not only did the field go for 4.433 there, but the worst score was a par. . . . Clean Card Award? Perhaps Bill Haas, who made four birdies, four bogeys, and 28 pars. . . . Jonas Blixt will not sleep well if he thinks of the par-5 fifth. He doubled it both rounds. First time around he dropped his second shot in the ravine; next time around he four-putted from 24 feet.