Brandt Snedeker, the 2013 and 2015 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am champ, loves the PGA Tour’s West Coast swing. He ought to, since four of his eight PGA Tour victories have come in events on the Tour’s weeks in California and Arizona in January and February. In addition to his two AT&T Pro-Am wins, prior to this year Snedeker had won the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, north of San Diego, in 2012. On Monday, February 01, 2016 he added a second win at Torrey Pines to his résumé.
Snedeker has a history of making big comebacks to win, and his victory in this Farmers Insurance Open added to the legend. After making the cut on the number at 1-under he shot up the leaderboard to T27 on Saturday with a 2-under 70. With tournament play split between the North Course and the more demanding South Course on Thursday and Friday, it was to be expected that the numbers for the first two days of the tournament would be better than for the weekend, even taking into account that it is the cream of the crop who survive to play the weekend.
Spread over Torrey Pines’ North and South courses, the field averaged even par on Thursday and Friday in beautiful weather. Saturday’s round, with the field cut to the top 72, was played in fair weather once again but on the more difficult South Course; the average score rose by one stroke, to 73. With the arrival on Sunday of a strong storm, with moderate rain but high winds, scores ballooned. Three delays due to the weather conditions pushed completion of the final round to Monday, but Snedeker bucked the trend – he finished on Sunday, and in a round that he described as “…playing in British Open conditions on a U.S. Open course“, he carded a final round that was below par.
Over a two-day period when the rest of the field averaged 78 strokes, Snedeker came in with a 3-under 69. Some players saw double-digit increases over their Saturday scores – 54-hole co-leader Scott Brown blew up by 17 strokes, carding a 15-over par 87 to follow Saturday’s 2-under 70.
As the “leader in the clubhouse”, Brandt Snedeker spent a restless Monday at the course, hitting balls on the range and putting, waiting to see if the slightly milder weather would allow anyone to catch up and put him into a playoff. Winds were light first thing in the morning, which had Snedeker worried.
“(At) 8 o’clock this morning, when we were supposed to tee off, I looked outside my hotel room and there was no wind and it looked pretty normal,” he said in a post-round interview. “I was not liking my chances then. I was not liking it at all. I just thought it was going to be a top-5 finish at that point.”
The wind picked up as play progressed, but more importantly, it was coming from almost exactly the opposite direction from which it had on Sunday. Hole locations that had been plotted for Sunday’s wind direction went from challenging to downright difficult. Jimmy Walker, who finished the third round one stroke back of 54-hole co-leaders Scott Brown and K. J. Choi, looked like he might hang on to challenge for the lead, but a string of bogeys on the back nine killed his chances. K.J. Choi made a run at Snedeker, but never recovered from a bogey at 14 that dropped him to one stroke short of the tie he needed to force a playoff.
With fair weather forecast for next week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Snedeker, the 2013/2015 AT&T champ, probably has seen all the “Crosby weather” that he’s likely to. With good weather on his side and a 3-2-1 run of finishes so far in 2016, at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Sony Open, and Farmers Insurance Open, his chances for a three-peat defense of his AT&T Pro-Am title are looking strong.