American Brandt Snedeker fired a final round five-under-par 67 to post a tournament record 22-under 265 to claim the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am for the second time in three years. And for the second time in three years he also set the tournament record. Nick Watney holed a 25-footer on the final hole to finish second three shots back. Charlie Beljan, the third American on the podium, finished one further shot back alone in third.
Why This Performance Doesn’t Surprise:
Well, he did win here in 2013 and he did so setting the tournament record at 267. He made 22 birdies and an eagle in 2013 so it was no secret that he doesn’t mind playing in this environment. He made only one bogey on the weekend in 2013 in two rounds at Pebble Beach. Entering the week, Snedeker was healthy and playing well. He racked up three T10s and a T19 in his last five events and his iron play (third in GIR last week) was heating up. He also only made six bogeys last week and 54 pars on one of the hardest courses annually on TOUR. He had six previous victories under his belt and had no problem handling the fight on Sunday.
Why This Performance Surprises:
Even though this is Snedeker’s seventh win on TOUR, this is his first since the 2013 RBC. Last year, he only racked up three top 10s and 10 top 25s in 20 weekends completed. That sounds great but he had zero podium finishes and only cashed out $1.6 million. After seasons of $3.5, $4.9 and $5.3 million (plus a FedExCup $10 million bonus) prior, last year killed pro gamers, course horses and salary gamers as there wasn’t a single format where Snedeker was beneficial. Don’t forget he also changed coaches, dropping long-time educator Todd Anderson for Butch Harmon. As if we needed any more proof that Harmon’s methods work! With no top 10 since August and only four since his last victory in 2013, the contrarians had plenty of ammo heading into this week.
How Snedeker Won This Week:
Er, well, just like LAST time he won? In 2013 he was 11-under in the final two rounds, both played at Pebble. This year he was 10-under as the luck of the draw had him playing Pebble Saturday and Sunday again. That sounds good but he was seven-under to open at MPCC and backed that up with five-under at Spyglass Hill in round two to set the 36-hole lead. Did I mention he didn’t make any bogeys en route to 12-under? Ok, good! Needless to say his ONE bogey on the week led the field. For the second week in a row he was in the top 3 (T3) in GIR but this week his normally hot putter was back to normal as he finished eighth in strokes-gained putting. He was T38 last week. Looks like Butch Harmon is helping with the tee-to-green activity and letting Sned’s short-game magic do its job! Good plan I say!
If making only $1.6 million last season and bringing on Butch Harmon to be his coach weren’t enough clues for a bounce-back season, I’m not sure fantasy golf is your thing. Just take a look at Snedeker’s record in the majors pre-2014 and you’ll see the class. Form is just that, temporary, and class is permanent. Those on the fence who think/thought only top 10s are the way to prove whether or not a guy is “back”, well this victory should eliminate the doubt. Like Day last week, when Snedeker is healthy, he’s a force to be reckoned with in all formats. We all saw the emotion on the 18th green after his win so I have no doubts that this will fan the flames moving forward this season.
The other key to the win today was Snedeker is now qualified for all of the WGCs and majors this season. That was NOT the case before the ball was teed up this week as Snedeker was sitting at No. 63. Our gambling expert, Dave Tindall, tipped him up at 66-1 Sunday afternoon for the U.S. Open up the coast in Washington State. Snedeker is in his prime at 34 and his positive changes in his game have led to positive results.
With This Win:
Win No. 7 on TOUR comes with 500 FedExCup Points, $1,134,000 million and another trip to Kapalua. As mentioned above, he’s also heading to all of the big-boy events this season. He also gets to set his schedule for next year. More importantly, for me, it validates his decision to change coaches and that should free his mind and most importantly, his conscious. LOOK OUT.
Déjà vu All Over Again?
After 28 wins in 45 events last season, the USA take over fromthe rest of the world this week. Brooks Koepka, Bill Haas, Jimmy Walker, Patrick Reed, Charley Hoffman, Bubba Watson, Ryan Moore, Robert Streb, Ben Martin and Snedeker are the USA champs. Sang-moon Bae (Korea), Nick Taylor (Canada) and Jason Day (Australia) are the three international winners in the first 13 events.
Haas, Bae, Martin, Moore and Walker are those who have closed their 54-hole leads. Walker is the only person on BOTH sides of his list as he couldn’t close out his lead at Kapalua. Sadly for gamers, this was the ninth time since his FedExCup win in 2010 that Jim Furyk has not been able to close a 54-hole lead. This list is flawed because it doesn’t take into account ties but it’s my list so there.
After 13 first-time winners in 2013 there were only 10 last year. After 13 events in 2015, Martin, Streb, Taylor and Koepka have made their breakthrough.
This was the 74th event. Americans have now won 71 of the 74.
Defending champ Jimmy Walker started off even par at Spyglass but his 13-under in the final three rounds saw his defense stall out at T21. Gamers everywhere, including me, have shed a tear or a few dollars…
There are too many names to list here that have won multiple titles here. Snedeker joins this list and the names on there are quite familiar.
Daniel Berger was looking to break his maiden here in his rookie year. He joins exclusive company as no rookie has ever won here.
Alex Prugh was looking to be the first player to win on TOUR here since Brett Ogle in 1993.
Berger and Prugh both came up short but posted T10 for the week.
Again, Spyglass Hill was the most difficult of the three courses used as it played at 71.199. Pebble Beach played 70.192 and MPCC checked in at 68.936(!).
For the third time in four years the tournament record was set.
Gamers, the locals and CBS remarked multiple times that they have NEVER seen weather like this over the tournament week. It was sunny and 70s all week with NO WIND. On three courses that didn’t measure over 7,100 respectively, there was no defense this week. These guys are TOO good.
Snedeker now holds the low gross and low stroke records!
Young Guns Versus Prime Time Versus Old Guys
I annually keep track of the age of the winners on TOUR because I’m an ageist.
Bae got the youngsters (under 30) on the board first in 2014-15 followed by Martin and Streb, both 27. Nick Taylor, 26, popped in to close out 2014 before Reed joined the party at a whopping 25 at followed by Koepka, 25 in Phoenix and Jason Day, 27, made it six youngsters from 12 winners this season before this week.
The old guys (40 and over) haven’t hit the winner’s circle yet in the new season. Jim Furyk held the 54-hole lead but finished T7 and at 44, he was the best “old guy”.
What I learned from the finishers in the top 10 this week:
Nick Watney: The recent form should have pointed us in this direction as he was 14th at Humana before MC in Phoenix. He bounced back last week on a course he loves to post T7 at Torrey Pines. Watney’s solo second was his best finish at Pebble and he did it on the back of a solid putter! Watney, renowned for his ball-striking, led the field in SGP and putts per GIR for the week. His ball-striking was average but when he hit greens he took advantage as he racked up 25 birdies (T1) for the week. The irony of Sneds-Watney finishing 1-2 is that they “swapped” coaches in the last two years. Watney left Harmon for Todd Anderson and vice-versa for Snedeker. If Watney continues to see his putting improve there’s no question he has the ball-striking talent to return to the game’s elite. #Promise
Charlie Beljan: His solo third was his best finish on TOUR since losing in a playoff to John Merrick at Riviera in 2013. His last top 10 was last winter at Humana, T9. He has five top 10s in 81 events on TOUR but he might be a sneaky play next week on a course where he’s performed before. The big boy hits it a mile and finished this week fifth in strokes gained tee-to-green and was third in putts per GIR. Entering the week, his best finish of the new season was T31. Entering the week he was MC, T66 and MC.
Dustin Johnson: Let’s add this week’s T4 to two wins, T2, T5 and T7 in eight tries at Pebble. #AutomaticSelection any week UNLESS both of his arms fall off. He'll be the favorite next week for me at Riviera. #LARedemption
Jason Day: Not many guys have the talent go to back-to-back at this level and Day gave it some run this week. After an opening 72 with stomach flu, Day almost called it a day (no pun intended, I think). He went out Friday and fired 62 to get right back into the tournament. He fired 17-under the final three days to finish T4. He did everything expected but bring home the title. Sadly for gamers, he’s off next week!
Pat Perez: His course form continues at Pebble as he backed up his T7 last year with T4 this year. It’s now 11 of 13 in his career and nine of his last 10 as him and his amateur partner took home the Pro-Am title as well. Course form always enters the equation when projecting each week but so does recent form. I’ve learned that getting blown up on one of the hardest courses annually on TOUR (Torrey Pines) shouldn’t be given as much weight as not firing on a birdie track. It obviously didn’t bother Perez as he also racked up 25 birdies to co-lead the field this week. It’s now seven weekends in a row when he’s teed it up but his first top 10 since last year’s T7 at this event, a span of 24 events.
Jordan Spieth: With finishes of T22, T4 and T7 and eight rounds of 12 at 68 or better, it’s safe to say he likes it here. The only issue gamers should have with Spieth is whether or not they will have enough starts left on him in for the run in as he continues to reinforce that his game, even when not firing on all cylinders, translates just about everywhere. That’s a GREAT problem to have for weekly gamers. Salary cappers are just sitting back and laughing at their opponents for allowing him to fall in their laps.
Jim Furyk: Thanks to the lack of players in Group A in Yahoo! this week, selecting Furyk turned up trumps until he didn’t convert his 54-hole lead. Furyk hit the top 10, T7, for the first time since 2007 as this was his best finish since T14 in 2008. The GREAT news for gamers who are invested for the season is that he hit the top 10 and was 18-under without playing since the Ryder Cup. Emotion shouldn’t play ANY part in fielding a weekly lineup so remember this: If you picked up the newspaper (they still have these, right?) on Monday morning and saw he finished T7, you would have been thrilled, right? Yeah, you would have. Get mad that he didn’t close another 54-hole lead, fine, but he banged a top 10 after not playing for almost five months. That’s now 15 weekends in 17 tries at Pebble and five top 10s.
Matt Jones: Fantasy gamers hardly scoff at guys who make cuts and Jones had played six of seven weekends at Pebble before adding T7 to that haul this week. This was his best finish in seven weekends on the Monterey Peninsula but only his first top 10 since his win last April in Houston. Every time gamers think that Jones is going to break out/through...
Chesson Hadley: He’s now cemented his status as a course horse after only two trips. His T7 this year improved on his maiden T10 last year and both came on the back of entering the week with ZERO FORM. He MC in three straight before his T10 last year and had nothing better than T32 in six full-field events heading into this year. His last two events entering the week this year were MC, MC. #HorseforCourse
Vaughn Taylor: Found in the “Off the Radar” section with Hadley in my preview column, Taylor continued his steady run of recent form. He cashed T12 last week in Colombia after T15 the previous week in Panama on the Web.com so those who took a calculated flier on THIS Taylor (not Nick) cashed handsomely this week. He’s played twice on TOUR this season and has T20 and T10 to show for it on top of his Web.com results. Hmmmmmmmm.
Alex Prugh: Back-to-back top 10s in consecutive weeks should pique gamer’s interest and rightfully so. Anyone who posts 23-under in eight rounds at Torrey and Pebble in two weeks isn’t on accident. Before investing, gamers must remember that he MC in 12 of 16 events last year on TOUR but hit nine of 11 on the Web.com. His best finishes seem to be on the West Coast as well.
J.B. Holmes: His hot play continued this week off his P2 last week at Torrey. He opened with 64 and closed with 65, both on Pebble Beach, to finish T10. He made only seven bogeys on the week but also added a triple and double or he could have been knocking on the door on Sunday again. Gamers who paired Furyk and Holmes together and timed it right in Yahoo! were on point and collecting points this week. Make it eight cuts from nine at Pebble and four top 16s or better for the rejuvenated Kentuckian.
Brendon Todd: After bursting on to the scene in early calendar 2014, Todd quieted down as the strength of fields and courses increased. His 2015 started off quietly as well with T48 and T60 before breaking for the holidays. He backed up his HTOC T8 with T44 and MC so this week’s T10 should rekindle some fires. He made only four bogeys on the week and they were all at Spyglass, not surprisingly, on Friday. He played Pebble bogey-free this on the weekend 68-65 and, like Holmes, moved up 30 spots with a closing 65. That will help salary folks and give hope to the weekly warriors.
Daniel Berger: His T10 is his second in three weeks and that makes four top 25s in five events to open calendar 2015. His worst round of the week was his 70 on Sunday at Pebble. Not bad for a kid making his first start. He’s now played the weekend in seven of his last eight events. Pay attention.
Jon Curran: Another first-timer at Pebble, Curran must have been inspired by fellow Vanderbilt Commodore Brandt Snedeker as he pegged his second top 10 of the season. The only problem with Curran is that in between top 10s he’s misses six weekends from seven and the only made cut resulted in T54. He’s only played 14 events on TOUR and made five cuts. The good news is that 66% of them this season have gone for top 10s. I’ll patiently wait and see.
Andres Gonzales: He didn’t let the disappointment of a closing 77 last week at Torrey get him down as he rallied this Sunday to fire 64-70 on the weekend to claim his second top 10 in his last four starts. With over $600k already, Gonzales shouldn’t have much problem securing his card for 2015-16 so let’s see if this frees him up to break through or find himself in contention more often. He’s worth a punt based on this alone.
A quick recap of what happened to the Chalk from my preview column:
Jimmy Walker: Similar to Day he opened the week even par but could only must 13-under to finish T21. It’s his worst finish and first outside of the top 10 in five years. Gamers are disappointed again this week and again, that’s a compliment to just how good Walker has been the last two years. Contrarians will have ONE more chance to cash in OAD with him at his favorite course, Riviera, next week.
Jason Day: T4, see above.
Dustin Johnson: T4, see above.
Jordan Spieth: T7, see above.
Patrick Reed: He moved up 22 spots to T29 on the back of 67 on Sunday. No news is good news but for OADers like me, no joy this week. The encouraging part to gamers was his closing 31 as he refuses to mail in rounds. That quality always resonates with me.
Brandt Snedeker: WIN, see above.
Ryan Palmer: Missed PLAYING the weekend by two shots; missed MDF by one. No top 10s in 10 starts here and nothing better than T23. Save him in the future for slick greens.
Shane Lowry: Took a chance sticking the Irishman in this column and he didn’t disappoint as he ended his maiden voyage at Pebble T21. He began Sunday T10, which is no surprise since he’s been ON FIYAH lately but he didn’t fire, closing with 71. He’s now hit the top 25 in 12 of his last 17 starts worldwide. #Legit
Hunter Mahan: T54 in his return after baby No. 2. I’ll revisit him down the road but I’ve swung and missed on him in his last two events, baby or no baby. When in doubt GTFO.
J.B. Holmes: T10, see above.
Coming TUESDAY Afternoon
I’ll publish my weekly preview, Range Rover, around lunchtime, children permitting. I’ll focus on history, current form, course characteristics, winning qualities and those who I think will and will not.
Coming TUESDAY Afternoon Pt. II
Playing the Tips will be up and running this and every Tuesday late afternoon and will list all of the Rotoworld experts picks in the GolfChannel.com game, the Yahoo! Fantasy Golf game, DFS plus the European Tour! Oh, and my One-and-Done feature. Look for it every Tuesday until the Presidents Cup.
And the analysis doesn't end here. Rotoworld's Rob Bolton and I will be co-hosting a one-hour live chat Wednesday at NOON ET. We will be breaking down the field at the Northern Trust Open (NTO) plus answering your questions. Simply return to the golf home page to join in on the chatter. Don’t forget to follow Rob (http://twitter.com/RobBoltonGolf) and Glass (http://twitter.com/mikeglasscott) on Twitter.