This Sunday belongs to Snedeker
Brandt Snedeker’s incredible start to the 2013 PGA Tour season continued with a victory at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. He shot 19-under-par 267 (66-68-68-65) to win by two shots.
Here are Five Things to take away from the Pebble Beach Golf Links:
1. Unbeatable Brandt
Snedeker, the reigning FedEx Cup champion, moved to No. 4 in the Official World Golf Ranking, but no one can compare to him thus far this season.
The Pebble Beach victory was his fourth top-three finish in five starts this year. He was runner-up in his two more recent events (behind Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson) and third in his season debut at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
"Feels great to finish one," he said. "The last two weeks, playing great but running into two Hall of Famers, really motivated me to go out and prove that I can handle the lead."
Snedeker started the final round in a tie for the lead. He then played the first seven holes in 5 under, including an eagle at the par-5 second hole. He had a two-shot lead at the turn after three-putting from 22 feet for his only bogey, but responded with birdies at the next two holes to grow his lead to four. He made a 27-footer on No. 10 and followed with a 16-foot birdie putt at the 11th. He parred the next five holes before making a 10-foot birdie putt at the par-3 17th and parring No. 18.
Snedeker lived up to his billing as one of the PGA Tour’s best putters. He made four birdie putts outside 10 feet Sunday.
It was Snedeker’s fifth career victory.
When is a top-10 not really a top-10? Apparently this week at Pebble Beach.
On a normal week those players that top 10 the week before get a spot in the following week’s event, as long as it’s not an invitational, WGC or major.
But it's different for this week's Northern Trust, as the tournament is full and the last guy in the field, Wes Short, Jr., is in on a major medical, a higher-ranking category than a top 10.
Hahn is in the field after Joey Snyder withdrew, and Cantlay has already been handed a sponsor exemption, so he'll have a spot in the field, as well.
That leaves Reed.
“We've got Monday next week, so we're about to catch a flight to go play Monday,” Reed said after a final-round 70. “Hopefully, it all shapes out, being top 10 gets us in next week. We should know this afternoon. But we're going to go Monday.”
Reed has a 12:45 p.m. tee time for the qualifying tournament at Industry Hills on Monday, but it's possible he will know if he's in the field before he tees it up.
3. Dreaming of the islands
Only one player has played in the first six events of the season, and Tommy Gainey wishes he had never returned to the mainland. The South Carolina native made $238,876 in Hawaii with a tied-for-sixth finish at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and tie for 36th at the Sony Open.
After missing the cut at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Gainey has still earned $236,876 after missing four consecutive cuts on the West Coast.
Nine other players have played in the past five consecutive events, starting at the Sony Open, with mixed results.
Ricky Barnes, Roberto Castro, Harris English and Jason Kokrak all missed the cut this week at Pebble Beach.
After a solid start with a tie for 20th at Sony and a tie for 16th at the Humana Championship, Barnes has missed three consecutive cuts.
Castro missed his first cut of the season at Sony but cashed a check in the next three events including a tie for 16th at Phoenix.
English started the season with a tie for ninth at Sony and made cuts in the next three events before missing the cut for the first time this season at Pebble Beach.
Kokrak is the most curious, with a 72nd at Sony and a tie for eighth in Palm Springs. The long hitter then withdrew from the Farmers Insurance Open and has missed two consecutive cuts.
Brad Fritsch made his fourth cut in five events and his tied for 40tg at Pebble Beach moved him to 11th on the FedEx points list and in perfect position for the reshuffle that occurs after Northern Trust next week.
Hahn and Walker finished tied for third this week at Pebble, the best for each in 2013.
Over the last 28 holes at Pebble, Walker was 13 under with no bogeys.
“I was really happy, and things feel like they're right there,” Walker said. “The putter really started working yesterday, and I'm excited to go into Riviera.”
Hahn was in the final group on Sunday tied with Brandt Snedeker at 12 under but could never really get anything going and finished a 2-under 70, five shots behind Snedeker.
“This week was the best tournament I’ve had so far,” Hahn said. “But being so close to winning a golf tournament, playing in the final group, it’s a little bittersweet.”
The other two players that have played in the past five events are Pat Perez and Josh Teater. Both made the cut at Pebble, but were tied for 50th.
4. The first time
Jordan Spieth and Cantlay are both rookies looking for places to play in 2013. Neither has their PGA Tour card, but their pedigree is well known in golf circles, even at the professional level.
Interestingly, both made their first cuts on the PGA Tour this week.
“It was a positive week, take a lot of positives out of it," Spieth said of his tie for 22nd. “My putting is better than it was last year. I've seen a lot of improvement, which is good, especially on these poa annua greens.”
Spieth had never played the three courses that make up the AT&T rotation. That’s not true of Cantlay, who went to UCLA and is used to the bumpy greens of the West Coast.
“I played really solid all week,” Cantlay said after a final-round 67. “I hit the ball very solid Thursday through Sunday. Yesterday, I got a little out of sorts and I hit some weird shots around the greens, and it cost me. But it feels good to come back today and shoot a good round.”
Cantlay, who was tied for ninth at Pebble, now makes the short trip to Los Angeles and the Northern Trust Open, a course he knows very well from his days in college.
“I feel really confident going into next week,” Cantlay siad. “I know Riviera really well from UCLA, and I love that golf course.”
For Spieth it’s a trip back to Texas to get ready for the Web.com event in Panama in two weeks and then a trip to Puerto Rico for a PGA Tour start.
“My view going into the year was that I'd play Web.com most of the year, hopefully, and if things went great at the beginning of the year in these PGA events, then maybe my schedule would be altered,” Spieth said. “Right now, it went well this week, but not great, so I'm still looking at getting into that playoff series through the Web.com, and I'm perfectly content with that.”
5. Short shots
• Jason Day’s sixth-place finish is his second top-10 in three starts this year. He also was tie for ninth at the Farmers Insurance Open. He had four top-10s in 17 starts last year after a 2011 season that saw him finish second at both the Masters and US Open. Day shot 67 in the final round.
• Reed may have driven onto the beach left of the 18th hole, but he still made birdie to finish tied for seventh, his best career PGA Tour finish. Reed’s final-hole birdie allowed Shane Lowry to gain the 65th, and likely final, spot in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Field. Phil Mickelson is not playing the event.
• Retief Goosen's tie for ninth fulfills his medical exemption and, technically, he has his card again for the 2013 season.
• Spyglass Hill played the most difficult of the three courses with a scoring average of 72.641.
• After struggling on the par-5 18th hole on Saturday, Mickelson let the finishing hole at Pebble Beach get the best of him again recording a double-bogey 7 on Sunday.