Brandt Snedeker shot an incredible 69 to win the Farmers Insurance Open!
I know what you’re thinking.
A 69 doesn’t sound that special.
Players shoot 69 all the time.
In fact, more often than not, four rounds of 69 would barely get you into the top-10, let alone the top of the leaderboard.
So what was so special about the 69 that Brandt Snedeker shot at the Farmers Insurance Open?
Well, he did it in conditions like this:
In a storm-hit final round, driving rain and strong winds played havoc with not just the golfers, but the course itself, toppling several sizeable trees on the Torrey Pines course. The conditions were not, to put it mildly, ideal for good scoring.
If you’re thinking, “Oh, boo hoo, it was a bit windy and an old tree fell over. I’m still not convinced that a 69 is that impressive,” let’s see if the numbers can convince you that Snedeker’s 69 really was something special.
Snedeker was the only player to break par on the day. In fact, only one other player, Robert Streb, even managed to shoot level par.
The scoring average for that weather-affected final round was 77.97, the highest final-round average in PGA Tour history. The field, which let’s not forget was made of up PGA Tour professionals on good enough form to make the cut, was 377 over par for the round. Snedeker was the only man under par, registering four birdies and one bogey on a day when some of the world’s best players were accumulating bogeys like an eight-year-old with a bad cold.
Snedeker’s 69 put him nine shots ahead of the field average. How does that compare to a standard differential?
The best score at the previous week’s Career Builder Challenge was 62, shot by both David Lingmerth and Kevin Na in the third round. 62 sounds better than 69, doesn’t it? But that only put them seven shots clear of the field.
Jordan Spieth registered an impressive 30-under total across the four rounds at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, including the week’s best round, a 9-under 64 on the second day. Spieth’s 9-under might sound better than Snedeker’s 3-under, but that put Spieth six shots better than the field, most of whom made mincemeat of the traditionally generous Plantation Course at Kapalua.
Don’t just take our word for it. Former PGA Tour member Gary Christian told Sky Sports, “Given the combination of that weather and that golf course, I think a 62 in perfect conditions on a much easier golf course is not as good a round as that.
“Even with ideal conditions, everyone was still averaging over par,” added Christian. “It was a 7,680-yard golf course with heavy, heavy rough, wind and greens like they were and was just a brutal test of golf.”
Christian suggests that the performance could even make Snedeker a front-runner for this year’s Open at Royal Troon.
“To shoot that score in those circumstances on that golf course will make him think at the back of his mind ‘you know what, the Open Championship has just gone right up in my estimations of which major I can win’. That round is going to set him off and he’s going to turn up at Royal Troon later this year licking his chops and ready to go.”
In fact, Snedeker’s 69 wasn’t that far away from being as good as a 59, the lowest score ever recorded on the PGA Tour.
A 59 has been shot six times on the PGA Tour, by Al Geiberger in 1977, Chip Beck in 1991, David Duval in 1999, Paul Goydos and Stuart Appleby in 2010, and, most recently, by Jim Furyk in at the 2013 BMW Championship.
When Al Geiberger shot 59 in the second round of the 1977 Memphis Classic, the field average was 72, putting him 13 shots clear of the field.
When David Duval shot 59 in the final round, to win the 1999 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, he was 12 shots better than the field average of 71.
So, there you have it. In beating the field by nine shots, Snedeker put together one of the finest performances you’ll see on the PGA Tour this year.
“It was just one of those special days that I don’t think I could go out there and recreate it and do it again, but I’m glad I did it,” said Snedeker, who was way back in 27th at the start of the final round. “Luckily my attitude was fantastic all day,” said Snedeker, who made all 14 of his putts from 10 feet or less on his way to a one-shot victory.