Snedeker, the 2007 Tour rookie of the year and a Vanderbilt grad, was in the players' dining room watching the Florida Gators' spring football game. Immelman, the 2006 Tour rookie of the year, was around the corner in the lounge, sitting with his sports psychologist, Bob Rotella.
"You have been given this talent, discipline and dedication for a reason," Rotella recalls telling Immelman. "This is what you spend your whole life practicing for. Go out there and cherish it, embrace it and love it. Trust what you're doing, stay in the moment, never mind the scoreboard. Take care of you."
A little later, after Immelman and Snedeker had made their way to the course, the locker room attendants gathered around a television, studying these faces that belonged to neither Woods nor Phil Mickelson. They were most taken with Snedeker, the 27-year-old Nashville native with the boyish haircut and broad smile.
"He just has that face that he could do a milk commercial," said one. "When he gets ready to putt, he shakes his butt," observed another.
In 2007, at the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines, Snedeker had said how cool it was when Woods had congratulated him on his round of 61. At the time, Snedeker said he couldn't beat Woods, whether it was on the course or in a video game, but at the Masters he was holding his own against everybody.
He thrived in the first two rounds while paired with his idol, Tom Watson, and even impressed the two-time Masters champion with his imagination and feel. Snedeker's family was having a rollicking time until Brandt bogeyed all three holes of Amen Corner on Saturday.
"I died a thousand deaths, and they quit serving beer at four o'clock," older brother Haymes said.
Still, Snedeker closed out his third round with a grin, making birdie on three of his last five holes. With his 18th-hole birdie he stayed two shots behind Immelman and secured a spot in Sunday's final pairing. On his way to the clubhouse Snedeker caught a ride with an Augusta member on the back of a golf cart. When they zoomed by Steve Flesch, who was three strokes behind the leader, Snedeker called out, "Good playing, Lefty."
"You, too, Hot Rod," Flesch shot back.
Immelman had a quieter finish on Saturday. As he left the club, he retrieved a voice mail message from Player, whom he had first met when he was five years old.
"It gave me goose bumps," Immelman said. "He told me that he believed in me and I need to believe in myself. And he told me I've got to keep my head a little quieter when I putt."
Lurking six shots back was Woods, but he headed straight to the practice green after his third-round 68, trying to jumpstart a cold putting stroke before dark. Woods said he felt good about his stroke heading into the tournament, but for the third straight year it might have cost him a green jacket.
In 2006 he said he wanted to snap his putter over his knee after coming up short to Mickelson. Last year his flat stick let him down in his pursuit of Zach Johnson. On Sunday, with a chance to apply pressure to Immelman, Woods kept missing putts to the left, including a lip-out of a short par putt at the par-3 4th. Woods described the feeling of dragging his blade through the hitting zone instead of releasing it freely. The result? He wasn't getting the proper overspin on his putts, especially on the short attempts.