PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Brandt Snedeker broke his own scoring record and won the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am for the second time in three years.
Snedeker played bogey-free in the final round Sunday and left the mistakes to everyone else. He closed with a 5-under 67 and a three-shot victory over Nick Watney, and the timing could not have been better.
Snedeker fell out of the top 50 at the end of last year for the first time since 2011 and was guaranteed of playing only one major and no World Golf Championships unless he turned his game around. One great week at one of his favorite spots in golf changed everything.
The victory assures him a spot in the Masters and PGA Championship (he already was eligible for the U.S. Open). And he moves to No. 31 in the world ranking, which most likely gets him into all the WGCs, starting with Doral in three weeks.
“I’m just so excited about what’s next,” Snedeker said.
He made only one bogey in 72 holes of glorious weather, as good as it gets at Pebble Beach. And when he finally took the lead after Watney made his worst swing of the week — a 4-iron right of the sixth fairway and into Stillwater Cove — Snedeker pulled away, taking all the drama out of the final hour.
A conservative par on the final hole gave him a 22-under 265, breaking the scoring record by two shots that he set in 2013. He also broke by two shots the score to par previously held by Phil Mickelson (2007) and Mark O’Meara (1997) when the par-72 Poppy Hills was still in the rotation.
Watney opened with four straight birdies, but it was three bogeys in a five-hole stretch at the turn that cost him. He rallied with a pair of birdies for a 69 to secure second place alone, a good step for him getting his game back in order.
Charlie Beljan closed with a 66 and finished third.
Jim Furyk, the 54-hole leader, didn’t make his first birdie until the 11th hole. He missed three birdie putts inside 10 feet on the front nine, went out in 38, and was out of the hunt halfway through the final round. It was the ninth time Furyk failed to convert when he had at least a share of the 54-hole lead since his last victory at the 2010 Tour Championship. Then again, this was his first competition in five months.
“I only made two birdies today and I hit the ball way better than that,” Furyk said. He tied for seventh, six shots behind, along with Jordan Spieth and Matt Jones.
With a big crowd celebrating one of the most beautiful weeks ever at Pebble, the final round quickly turned into a battle between Snedeker and Watney.
Watney, thrilled at the chance to play with San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, opened with four straight birdies to build a two-shot lead. But on the par-3 fifth, a photographer shot his camera at the top of Watney’s swing and he flinched, coming up well short and in a bunker. Watney made bogey, and Snedeker rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt for a two-shot swing to tie for the lead.
It was a big putt for Snedeker, and it was evident by the abrupt fist pump when it dropped. He took the lead on the next hole when Watney pushed his approach over the edge of the cliff and made bogey.
Watney never caught up. They matched birdies on the seventh and 11th holes, and then Snedeker pulled away with pars. Watney made bogey from a fairway bunker on the 13th, and from behind the green on the 14th to fall four shots behind.
“I thought Brandt handled himself really, really well,” Watney said. “Maybe in trouble one time, but very solid. So that’s what I need to be like next time.”
Torrey Pines winner Jason Day, who opened with a 72 at Pebble Beach in great scoring conditions, got within two shots of the lead until the putts stopped falling. He closed with a 67 and tied for fourth with Pat Perez (68) and Dustin Johnson, who closed with a 66. It was the second tournament for Johnson since he returned from a six-month leave of absence for what he described only as a personal challenge.
Perez and Michael Lund, the co-founder of Pandora Jewelry, won the pro-am competition at 42 under.