In the last two weeks on the PGA Tour, Brandt Snedeker has finished second twice, running afoul of on-game Hall of Famers on both occasions – Tiger Woods at the Farmers Insurance Open two weeks ago, and Phil Mickelson last week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. In yesterday’s final round at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, it was Snedeker’s turn to play the spoiler, this time for a Tour rookie looking for his first win.
James Hahn, the Bay Area native who has made 5 of 5 cuts in his first season on the PGA Tour, found himself standing on the first tee at Pebble Beach with Snedeker after a strong finish in his Saturday round at Spyglass Hill. Closing out his third-round back nine with three consecutive birdies, Hahn moved into a tie with Snedeker at -12, earning himself a spot in the pressure cooker that is the final pairing at a PGA Tour event.
Early in the round Snedeker displayed the form that has kept him at or near the top of the leaderboard on so many occasions since the waning weeks of the 2012 season. Hahn was playing well, driving with laudable precision and striking his irons well, but falling behind Snedeker’s pace on the greens. Snedeker acknowledged that it was an advantage to have played Pebble on Saturday; Hahn, coming off the faster, smoother greens at Spyglass, took a few holes to home in on the speed of the greens at Pebble after not having played there since Thursday. The bumpy quality imposed by the fast-growing poa annua content in Pebble’s greens makes familiarity with the lines a must, and even then whether or not a putt falls can be a matter of luck.
Hahn’s final-round 70 was an improvement over the 71 he shot in his opening round at Pebble on Thursday, but wasn’t enough to keep up with Snedeker, who blazed around the course in 7-under 65. The T-3 at Pebble Beach represents Hahn’s best finish on the PGA tour, his fifth cut in a row, second Top 10 and third Top 25 – all in his first five PGA Tour events. He moves up fifteen spots in the FedEx Cup rankings, from #26 to #11, and climbs forty-seven spots in the Official World Golf Rankings, to #133.
Pretty heady stuff for a guy who was selling women’s shoes at Nordstrom a few years ago – and with the $338,000 paycheck he’ll collect for his week’s work at Pebble Beach, he can afford to buy his wife a pair of Jimmy Choo’s.