Kyle Stanley led by seven shots early in the final round Sunday, and he still had a four-shot lead as he stood on the 18th tee at Torrey Pines. Just like that, he went from being anointed a rising star to a meltdown that ranks among the most shocking in golf.
Snedeker, in the group ahead of him, hit wedge to a foot for birdie and 67, then drove up to the media tent for an interview as the runner-up. He arrived in time to watch Stanley spin a wedge into the water, then three-putt from 45 feet for a triple-bogey 8 and 74.
Two playoff holes later, both were in shock.
Snedeker’s tee shot hopped over the green and would have gone into a canyon except that it bounced off a television tower. He chipped to about 5 feet and made the par. Stanley three-putted again from just outside 45 feet, his 5-foot par putt catching the right lip.
“It’s just crazy,” Snedeker said. “To get my mind around what happened the last 30 minutes is pretty hard to do right now. My heart is out to Kyle. I feel bad for him to have to go through this.”
Stanley was reduced to tears. His eyes were glassy and his lip quivered as he tried to answer questions, a sad ending to an otherwise spectacular week.
“It’s not a hard golf hole,” Stanley said. “I could probably play it a thousand times and never make an 8.”
But he did Sunday, a painful lesson for the 24-year-old.
“I know I’ll be back,” Stanley said, pausing to allow the words to come out of his mouth. “It’s tough to swallow right now.”
Both Snedeker and Stanley finished regulation at 16-under 272.
It was the second consecutive time Snedeker won a PGA Tour event by rallying from five shots behind in the final round to win in a playoff. He did it at Hilton Head last April and beat Luke Donald.