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Snedeker claims championship at Pebble Beach

Modified: Sunday, Feb 10th, 2013

Brandt Snedeker reacts after putting on hole No. 18 at Pebble Beach Golf Links to win the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on Sunday. (Associated Press)

PEBBLE BEACH Like a battering ram breaking down a worn-down wooden door, Brandt Snedeker was eventually going to break through with a victory in 2013 on the PGA Tour.

Snedeker had been second or third three different times in 2013 before come to the beautiful coastal town on the peninsula to try his luck. He stayed near the top and then reached a tie for first on Saturday evening.

And then on Sunday, he roared.

Snedeker shot a 7-under 65 in the final round at Pebble Beach Golf Links to finish 19-under and win the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

"Feels great to finish one," he said moments after putting on 18 to seal the win. "The last two weeks, playing great but running into two Hall of Famers really motivated me to go out that I can play good and handle the lead. I love being in this position, and today was a lot of fun."

He established the tone early, getting an eagle on No. 2 to break the tie between he and UC Berkeley alum James Hahn. He kept the hot hand going, playing error-free golf until he got to No. 9, where he finished the front nine with a bogey.

It ended up being OK. The first eight holes included one eagle, three birdies and four pars.

If that wasn't enough, he got back-to-back birdies on 11 and 12 to keep the rest of the field at bay.

As the crowd watched every move Snedeker made as waves crashed along the shore, they talked about how his spectacular eagle on No. 2.

His tee shot went to the middle of the fairway. His second shot looked to hook left, where a couple of bunkers were awaiting the ball. Instead, the ball bounced off of the rough and onto the green, a couple of feet from the hole. He tapped in for an eagle to the heavy applause from the crowd.

On No. 4, he encountered the same type of situation, as his first shot settled in at the middle of the fairway. His second shot hit the back of the green but rolled back to within about 10 feet of the cup. He tapped it in to move to 2-under for the day.

The treacherous hill on No. 6? Not a problem for the Vanderbilt Commodore. His second shot cleared the hill with ease and kept rolling toward the flag, and he tapped in for birdie. And then on the ever-short seventh, he went tee to green and got his third birdie on the day.

To show that he was indeed human to the thousands in attendance, his second shot on No. 8 hit the rough behind the green, leaving spectators wondering if Hahn, the person whom he was tied with to start the day, would have an opening.

Instead, Snedeker chipped to within a couple of feet and saved par.

"I'm just not making too many mistakes," Snedeker said of his play. "I'm playing smart golf, and I'm not putting myself in too many bad positions, and make a key putt here or there to get the round going. It's been a lot of fun to play golf like this and the way I know that I can."

It took Snedeker six holes to go 4-under, which matched his score from Saturday afternoon at the links.

And when it looked like the field was closing in, he hammered down a birdie on the spectator-friendly 17 to go up by three shots at 19-under.

Chris Kirk, who entered the day in third, had nearly as much success as Snedeker, and back-to-back birdies on 13 and 14 let the crowd know that he wasn't going to let Snedeker run away with the title.

But Kirk didn't have enough holes to catch up. He tapped a birdie on No. 18 to finish in second all by himself at 17-under. He shot a 6-under 66 on Sunday, compiling eight birdies and two bogeys.

He will probably look at his showing on Nos. 9 and 10 as his potential downfall. For a guy who didn't have too many putts on Sunday 27 putts on the 18 holes he ended up three-putting on 10 and settling for a bogey. On No. 9, his par putt sailed to the right.

He said he looked at the scoreboard after finishing No. 10 and believed he had a chance if he could get a birdie soon.

"Brandt was at 18 (under) and he had gotten off to such a good start, I kind of thought it's going to be tough for him to take it much lower than that," Kirk said. "If I can just get it back to 18 (under), I'll have a pretty decent chance at a playoff, maybe, but I came up a little bit short."

His second-place finish will go right beside his fifth-place showing at the Sony Open earlier this year. He credits the move to Callaway Golf equipment.

"I love the new stuff and felt really good about my game," he said.

Defending champion Phil Mickelson, who had his slip-ups throughout the week literally and figuratively, finished tied for 60th at 1-under. He shot an even par 72 on Sunday.

For the complete article see the 02-12-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 02-12-2013 paper.

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