SAN DIEGO – Brandt Snedeker now has four PGA Tour victories in which he started at least five shots out of the lead in the final round. The Farmers Insurance Open followed the script of his previous comeback except for one big difference.
Snedeker spent more time watching the weather report than the leaderboard.
Both worked in his favor.
When he finished his final round Sunday afternoon at Torrey Pines with a 3-under 69 — nearly nine shots better than the field average — he was one shot behind Jimmy Walker and tied with K.J. Choi, both on the back nine of the South Course as the wind was raging. And that play was halted for the third and final time that day, leading to a Monday finish in which Snedeker could do nothing but wait.
Part of him wishes they could have kept playing, but he knew the forecast Monday called for strong wind out of the north, which would make Torrey plenty tough because it had been set up to account for a southerly wind.
But when he awoke Monday morning, what he heard concerned him.
"I looked outside my hotel room and there was no wind, and it looked pretty normal," Snedeker said. "A little cool, but it looked pretty out there and I was not liking my chances then. I was not liking it at all. I just thought it was going to be a top-5 finish at that point."
The staff needed two hours to clean the debris from the South Course, including a dozen or so big trees that had been uprooted, and when the players returned to the course, the wind showed up at just the right time.
Several players were openly rooting for Snedeker because they wanted to see such a great round rewarded and thought it was unfair that the lead groups were able to stop playing. Typically, the wind dies in the morning. In fact, it might have been even tougher on the leaders because they played the last four holes against the wind.
On Sunday, the approach into the 15th hole was a wedge for most players. On Monday, a 3-wood wasn't enough.
It was that much of a difference.
Within two holes, Snedeker already was tied with Walker and Choi. After four holes, Snedeker was in the lead. And that's the way it finished.
Choi had a 30-foot birdie attempt on the 18th to force a playoff, though the putt never had a chance. He shot a 76 and finished one shot behind. Walker fell two shots behind with another bogey on the 15th, and his three-putt on the 17th (his third of the round) ended his hopes. He shot 77 and tied for fourth.
Snedeker won without hitting a shot, ending a bizarre week.
"You cannot make up the extreme events that had to happen for me to have this chance, and they all fell in line perfectly," he said.
Yes, everything fell his way to make up a six-shot deficit. But he did his part.
The average score for the final round was 77.9, the highest for a fourth round at a regular PGA Tour event since the tour began keeping such statistics in 1983. He won at 6-under 282, the highest score to win at Torrey Pines since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979, a full year before Snedeker was even born.
Go back to Friday, when Snedeker was coming up the par-5 ninth on the North Course and swing coach Butch Harmon was watching from outside the ropes, hopeful his man would make birdie to remove any doubt about making the cut. Snedeker made par and made the cut on the number.
He was tied for 57th on Friday. He was tied for 27th on Saturday.
He was posing with a trophy on Monday.
Not since Carl Pettersson in the 2010 Canadian Open has a player made the cut on the number and won on the PGA Tour.
Snedeker was thrilled with win, his eighth on the PGA Tour, fourth in California and second at Torrey Pines. It was particularly meaningful because of his start to the year. He outplayed Jordan Spieth at Kapalua, except that was during four practice rounds. When the tournament began, Spieth won by eight (Snedeker was third). A week later, Snedeker had a chance to win the Sony Open until leaving a birdie putt short, and he lost in a playoff to Fabian Gomez.
And now he's a winner again, and proud that five of his eight victories have been from behind.
"It says everything about my attitude," he said. "I keep grinding until the last putt goes in, and I take pride in that. ... You just never know what's going to happen. I was in 27th position and now I'm sitting here as a champion. I would have said, 'You're crazy. There's no way that would happen.' But you just never know."