There are many more ways to lose a golf tournament than there are to win one.
Last year’s Safeway Open, held at the Silverado Resort and Spa North in Napa, Calif., is the perfect example and gave us a first-hand look as the tournament came down to three guys and a playoff.
The facts: Brandt Snedeker should have won it, Ryan Moore could have won it and Kevin Tway did win it … on the third playoff hole.
Snedeker had a final-round 74 (including three straight bogeys on his final nine) to squander a lead. Moore sizzled into the playoff with a final round 67 that included birdies on three of his final four holes. Tway plodded along in the final round with a one-under 71 and made it into the three-way playoff when he birdied his final two holes.
Tway then kept that birdie streak going as he birdied all three playoff holes to pick up his first PGA Tour title.
What does that show us? Well, as golf tournaments go, no lead is safe, no deficit is too much to overcome and getting hot at just the right moment can find you in the winner’s circle.
This week’s event sees the PGA Tour fields starting to get stronger. Justin Thomas, Adam Scott, Francisco Molinari and Phil Mickelson are just some of the bigger-names getting in on the action at the third event of the wraparound season.
While we look for trends in every event, we also have to look at who might be coming into this event with a purpose.
And that player is easy to spot: Snedeker at 30-1. He knows he could have won here last year to get that impressive 10th win on the PGA Tour.
He posted six top 10s in his remaining Tour events last season after that stumble here, but not winning isn’t a taste you can get out of your mouth without exorcising the demons from last year’s final round.
After all, players know they only get so many chances to be in the hunt on Sunday and you’ve got to take advantage of those chances. And especially if you’ve got the lead heading into the final nine holes.
So this week looks like a great time for Snedeker as he has now had a full year to contemplate what went wrong and to worked figure out a way to make things go right down this year.
He kicked off this season with a T45 at the Sanderson Farms Championship as he knocked some of the rust off. Last year, the Safeway Open was Snedeker’s first event in the wraparound season and he still came away with that T2. This year, with an event already under his belt, look for him to finish strong at an event where he knows that he could be hoisting a championship trophy and walking away with all that cash and FedEx Cup points.
Now that’s not to say Justin Thomas, the favorite at 7-1, won’t have something to say about who wins in California. After all, he rallied strong at the end of last season after missing a couple of months battling an injury.
He’s looking to stay in form and while he usually doesn’t play early-season events, just entering this tournament proves he’s hungry to pick up right where he left off, which was a strong string of finishes. Included in his season-ending run over his last five events, including the FedEx playoffs, was a T11, T12, T12, Win (BMW Championship) and a T3 (Tour Championship).