Snedeker lives up to previous billing

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. --- Brandt Snedeker is back to playing like the rising young PGA Tour star he was supposed to be.

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Waste Management Phoenix Open leader Brandt Snedeker watches his approach on No. 18. He made par after striking for birdies on Nos. 13, 15 and 17 for 66. Snedeker has a one-shot lead.  Associated Press
Associated Press
Waste Management Phoenix Open leader Brandt Snedeker watches his approach on No. 18. He made par after striking for birdies on Nos. 13, 15 and 17 for 66. Snedeker has a one-shot lead.

The 29-year-old Tennessean rolled in his sixth birdie of the day on No. 17 and finished at 14-under 199 for a one-shot lead over Scott Piercy in the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Snedeker shot 66, while Piercy had a pair of eagles en route to 65 in the third round Saturday amid a loud, rowdy crowd estimated at more than 121,000 spectators. Many were on hand for the party as much, or more than, for the tournament.

Rickie Fowler (69) and Matt Every (68) were two back at 12-under. Camilo Villegas, who shared the lead with Mark Wilson after two rounds, birdied the last two holes to finish even for the day and 11-under for the tournament.

Wilson, Mark Calcavecchia and Lee Janzen were among nine at 10-under 203.

The 49-year-old Calcavecchia has won the Phoenix Open three times, in 1989, 1992 and 2001. The last of his 13 PGA Tour victories came in 2007 at the PODS Championship.

The sky was overcast with a threat of rain at TPC Scottsdale, and the wind kicked up late in the day. Perhaps that's why the crowd was more than 40,000 shy of the estimated 164,000 who attended on Saturday a year ago. The record is 170,000 in 2008.

But the scene was as wild as usual at the notorious 16th hole, where bleachers surround the par 3 and fans have special chants for virtually every golfer. The good shots draw lusty cheers, the bad ones loud boos.

"It was crazy," Snedeker said. "You've got to take it with a grain of salt and realize golf needs that. We need people out here having fun, being excited about being at a golf tournament. If you can't take it for one hole, good God, get over yourself and have some fun."

The same could be said of Snedeker's young career.

He was the 2007 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, but his victory at the Wyndham Championship that season remains his lone win.

He struggled early last year, missing the cut 12 of 26 times and was sidelined eight weeks by a rib injury.

"You just listen to your hype," Snedeker said. "You hear people talking about how good you are and how much you could be the next big thing, you should be winning each week. And the minute you think that you should be winning the golf tournament each week, you're completely out of bounds."

The turnaround, he said, came last July at the AT&T National, where he tied for fifth.

"Literally like a flipped switch," Snedeker said, "and I said, 'I'm sick and tired of this.' I don't care if I have to quit playing golf, I'm not going to keep playing the way I've been playing. And ever since then I've been playing good."

Howell remains in the hunt

- Augusta native Charles Howell birdied the 18th hole for his fifth birdie of the day and 3-under-par 68. He's in a tie for sixth place at 203, four shots off Brandt Snedeker's lead.

- Evans resident Vaughn Taylor also had 68 and is at 204. Taylor had six birdies but also had three bogeys.

- Former Louisville, Ga., resident Brian Gay shot 74 and is at 210.

-- From staff reports


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