PEBBLE BEACH -- Ten consecutive rounds in the 60s. Just one round over par this year out of 19. A whopping 53 under par for his last three tournaments.
Yep, it was about time Brandt Snedeker actually won something besides a whole lot of money and FedEx Cup points. Sunday, he did so without a whole lot of suspense.
Snedeker grabbed the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am by the throat with an eagle 3 on the second hole and didn't let loose. He closed with a 7-under 65 -- tied for the second-best round of the day -- and was never headed in winning by two strokes.
It felt like more.
With Tiger Woods missing and Phil Mickelson simply amiss, the PGA Tour's runaway money leader was suddenly thrust into the uneasy position of being the man everyone expected to win. Snedeker, though, delivered with nary a flinch of nerves over the final 18 holes at Pebble Beach Golf Links on Sunday.
He was 5 under for his round after just seven holes, and although he got a late challenge from unheralded Chris Kirk, who finished second, it was as close to a cruise-control victory as could be for the 32-year-old from Nashville, Tenn.
After second-place finishes in his last two tour events, behind Woods and Mickelson, Snedeker looked around this weekend and didn't see anyone who could realistically beat him if he was on his game. Add to that the fact that he was burning to finally come away with an actual trophy, and it was clear to see why the competition was up against it.
"It certainly made me uncomplacent," said Snedeker, who finished at 19-under 267 and won $1.17 million. "I definitely didn't want to do anything but win today. I was out there for one purpose and one purpose only, and I was extremely focused all day."
He was also very good in all facets of his game. Snedeker hit just one errant shot on his first eight holes, when he overshot the green on No. 3 and had a tricky chip. But he flipped one up within a foot for a tap-in par.
"That was nice," he said. "You don't get that up and down, and you know you kind of give one away and lose your momentum."
Snedeker had just one other momentary lapse when he three-putted the ninth green for his only bogey of the day. But he bounced right back with birdie putts on 10 and 11, the first one a 30-foot beauty across the green.
He didn't have another wobble the rest of the way.
So how does a guy who is 110th on the tour in driving distance become such a dominant stud (he will be fourth-ranked in the world after this win)? And is this just a hot streak or is he the real deal?
For Snedeker's part, he said the secret to unlocking his talent was understanding his game and learning to live within its constraints.
"My rookie year, I thought I could hit the ball far, and then I got out here and I realized I couldn't," he said. "There's lots of guys who hit the ball farther than I do. So I started modeling my game after guys who played like me -- the Steve Strickers, the David Toms and the Jim Furyks. The more time I spent watching those guys play golf, the more I realized what I needed to do to compete on a worldwide level."
Snedeker compensates with the flat stick -- he was No. 2 on the tour in putting last year -- and he has become one of the best managers of his game anywhere. He isn't flashy, but he just doesn't make many mistakes. He also has a confident, unflappable air about him that served him well Sunday.
"I was very calm today," he said. "I was not jumpy at all. I just had a good feeling that today was going to be my day."
James Hahn, the 31-year-old tour rookie from Alameda and Cal and the third-round co-leader, knew it was Snedeker's day after his playing partner made birdies on the sixth and seventh holes to open up a three-shot lead.
"I felt like that was the turning point," said Hahn, who closed with a 70. "I'm sure if you ask him, it was never a doubt that he was going to win the golf tournament."
Hahn matched Snedeker off the tee and in the fairways but faltered on the greens. He missed a makable eagle putt on No. 2, a short birdie putt on No. 3 and, after finally finding the bottom of the cup for birdie on No. 4, gave it back with a bogey on the par-3 fifth.
So what did Hahn learn from playing in the final group for the first time?
"I need to work on my putting," he said. "(Snedeker) rolled them in early. I didn't, and he rolled them in late and I didn't. That's kind of the difference."
Hahn was good enough to tie for third at 272 and claim his biggest check yet in golf -- $338,000. But he still wasn't quite sure how he felt.
"Being so close to winning a golf tournament, playing in the final group, it's a little bittersweet," he said.
Kirk, meanwhile, had to lament bogeys at Nos. 9 and 10 that smudged an otherwise sensational 6-under 66. A 27-year-old one-time tour winner from Knoxville, Tenn., he thought the way he was playing on the back nine might enable him to slip into a playoff. But Snedeker was just too unrelenting, he said.
"We've had a lot of tournaments like that on tour this year where somebody has really just kind of blitzed the field," Kirk said. "I felt like I played well enough to win a golf tournament and came up a little bit short."
Brandt Snedeker 66-68-68-65--267 -19
Chris Kirk 71-68-64-66--269 -17
James Hahn 71-65-66-70--272 -14
Jason Day 68-68-70-67--273 -13
Charlie Wi 70-70-68-69--277 -9
Webb Simpson 71-71-65-72--279 -7
Jim Furyk 75-69-68-69--281 -5
Lee Westwood 68-70-73-72--283 -3
Vijay Singh 72-72-66-74--284 -2
Phil Mickelson 69-71-73-72--285 -1
Mark Purdy: Brandt Snedeker, who is pure country, is making a strong case to be No. 1 in the world.
Notebook: 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh shows a warm, cuddly side to an appreciative gallery. Page 4
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