Dropping the Ball. . .

Posted: January 30, 2012 by Kodi in Hitting the Greens

Poor Poor Kyle Stanley . . .

Tiger Woods makes a big impact in Abu Dhabi

Brandt Snedeker was practically on his flight to the next tournament before he realized it was heading to a PLAYOFF

Being stuck in the great state of Minnesota for a winter period that seems to take up half of the year, I find myself switching to the Golf Channel often to see the lush green landscape and watch a sport I love to play. It just so happened that I changed to the Golf Channel at the perfect time on Sunday, right before they switched to the Farmers Insurance Open being played at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California. The network coverage time had been surpassed and the playoff between Brandt Snedeker and Kyle Stanley popped up. I had checked the leaderboard earlier, about an hour or so, and Stanley had a 3 stroke lead and it looked like nobody was going to catch him.

Snedeker even agreed saying that “I was just too far back. Kyle had too big a lead. . . It’s just crazy, to get my mind around what happened the last 30 minutes is pretty hard to do right now” telling reporters that “my heart is out to Kyle. I feel bad for him to have to go through this.” Snedeker may feel bad but Stanley feels much worse and looked like he was going to ball during his post-playoff interview. Stanley had a 3 shot lead going into the 18th and final hole. Stanley had hit a shot that spun too much and fell back into the water and was forced to chip out from the hazard drop area.

Stanley hit his chip shot to the back of the green and left himself with a 43 foot putt that trailed downhill and that was the moment Snedeker thought he might start getting ready. Stanley just had to put that putt close enough to make the second shot to still irk out a one stroke victory but he pushed the ball past the hole and left himself with a difficult comeback. He missed that putt as well and the three-putt ensured a playoff between Snedeker and Stanley. The two were to play the 18th hole again, the same hole that Stanley had just shot an 8 at, but I was surprised by his composure. The two players birdied the hole and it seemed that Stanley may have shaken off the great misfortune that took place minutes beforehand.

The two men headed to the 16th tee box for the second playoff hole and after both men scrambled to make it up and down for par it came down to their putters. The director had to come out and measure the distance of the two players balls with the flagstick because it was too close to call. When Snedeker was determined to be the player farther away he stepped up and sank his 6 foot putt for par. The pressure was back on Stanley and you would hope that the kid could pound in his 5 footer and go on to the 17th for their third playoff hole. Stanley is one of those players who doesn’t take much time one he addresses the ball while putting. He looked rushed at times and I wish he would have just taken a practice swing after his putter had failed him in the entire back 9 but like most golfers he did what he does. He stepped up to the ball and immediately made contact between the face of his putter and the ball but he put too much on it and pushed it right and officially blowing a 3 stroke lead going into the last hole.

Stanley had played in 41 previous tournaments and had never come as close as he did Sunday to winning a PGA Tour tournament. Brandt Snedeker had won just twice in his previous 145 PGA Tour starts and his previous victories were extraordinary comebacks similar to the one that took place at the 2012 Farmers Insurance Open. His first PGA Tour victory came when he shot a -9 in the final round of the 2007 Wyndham Championship and he came back from 6 shots in the final round of the 2011 RBC Heritage Classic to win. In the final round of the Farmers he shot a day low 67 to force a playoff and he admits that he “was sitting in [media center] literally an hour ago wondering. . . I was completely content with a second place finish.”

“I thought I played well and I was happy where I was” Snedeker told reporters about what seemed like his likely 2nd place finish but Stanley’s collapse allowed Snedeker to sneak in. “If anybody had an advantage, I did, because I had [blown leads] a couple times before, Kyle probably wasn’t in his best frame of mind at that point after doing what he did on 18.” Brandt has played exceptionally well at Torrey Pines and his win was the 3rd straight top 10 finish and 4th in 6 starts dating back to 2007. There were a lot of people who thought Stanley had wrapped this thing up, so much so that the New York Times posted an article proclaiming him the winner and the PGA Tour decided to write up this giant check . . . Guess that thing needs to be voided!

The European PGA Tour kicked off weeks ago but many of the big name players hold out until the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. This year’s field included the world’s top 4 players and 6 of the top 10 but it was the 117th ranked Robert Rock who held on off some big names to capture just his 2nd European Tour victory. Other than Rock’s two championships he has just 22 top 10 finishes since he joined the Euro Tour in 2000. He finished the Abu Dhabi GC with a 72 hole score of 275 which is 13 under par but coming into Sunday’s final round he was tied with Tiger Woods at -11.

Woods has obviously struggled since one of the most infamous sports scandals of all time but in the first three rounds he looked solid. Woods started the tournament out with a 70 but knocked shots off each of the following two rounds, shooting 69 and following it up with a 66 on Saturday. Tiger’s accuracy seemed much more reliable and his putting stroke was strong, but all of that failed him in the final round. He took out the red Nike polo for the Sunday push and Woods was hoping to pressure Robert Rock into squandering the lead. Tiger was very confident but his game wasn’t there for him and he finished shooting a final round 72 good enough to tie for 3rd place with Thomas Bjorn and Graeme McDowell with the final score of -11.

Rory McIlroy started the tournament with a -5 67 and was tied for the lead but his 2nd round 72 put him a couple strokes back of the lead. He shot a -4 68 on Saturday to put him just a few strokes back of Woods and Rock going into Sunday but his final round 69 fell just a single shot short of forcing a playoff. Charl Schwartzel and Lee Westwood shot a -6 282 for the tournament which ranked them tied for 17th in the tournament. Luke Donald had a low round score of 71 and finished the 72 holes with a -1 287 which ranked tied for 48th but fellow top 10ers Jason Day and Martin Kaymer missed the cut. Rock ranked 5th in putts per green in regulation and 5th in greens in regulation hitting nearly 78%, meaning he hit the greens, then drained the putts. Robert Rock was able to do what Kyle Stanley was not by holding onto his lead and making the putts he had to.

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