Snedeker, an ex-Vanderbilt golfer, played bogey-free at tough Spyglass Hill on Friday for 4-under-par 68, giving him a share of the lead with Ted Potter Jr. in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Potter three-putted his final hole at Monterey Peninsula for 67.
Former Augusta State golfer Patrick Reed is among four golfers one shot off the lead.
Reed, who had the day’s longest drive on No. 9 at 347 yards – with a 3-wood, he said – shot 69 at Pebble Beach.
“To go and shoot 69, all pars with three birdies around Pebble Beach, especially when it’s windy, is always a good feeling,” Reed said.
With one more round before everyone has played all three courses in the rotation, the leaderboard was a big traffic jam. Three dozen players were within five shots of the lead.
Snedeker, who was at 8-under 134, felt he was at an advantage because he goes to Pebble Beach for the final two rounds.
And there’s one other edge for his psyche – Tiger Woods isn’t playing, and defending champion Phil Mickelson is six shots behind.
Snedeker has played so well this year that he is leading the FedEx Cup standings without having won.
He was a runner-up the past two weeks – four shots behind Woods at Torrey Pines when he tied for second, and then four shots behind Mickelson in the Phoenix Open, where he was solo second.
“Keep running into guys who are or who are going to be in the Hall of Fame,” Snedeker said at the start of the week.
Mickelson, going after a record-tying fifth win in the event, was easing his way into contention until he made three bogeys in a four-hole stretch along the ocean at Spyglass Hill for 71.
Snedeker, who won the FedEx Cup last season, sees the upside of his two second-place finishes: At least he’s giving himself a chance.
“That’s how you win out here,” he said. “You keep putting yourself in position, and the more times you do, the more success you’re going to have. ... I’m doing a better job this week of making my way around the golf courses and not putting myself in bad spots and getting out of tough situations very quickly.”
His goal for the past two days?
“Not do anything stupid,” he said. “Unfortunately, I don’t do it very often.”
Potter remains somewhat of a mystery. He won last year in his rookie season at The Greenbrier Classic to claim a peculiar footnote in history – the only player to win a PGA Tour event in which Woods and Mickelson missed the cut. Still, his performance has been spotty. Potter missed nine out of the 12 cuts going into The Greenbrier, and then missed four out of nine cuts after his win.
“It’s just a funny game like that,” Potter said. “Some weeks you play really well and you get the right kicks and everything goes well. And then there are weeks you can still hit the ball well and get the bad kicks.”
It’s been good so far on the Monterey Peninsula, which has been graced with surprisingly good weather. Even though the cold rain finally arrived, it didn’t last long. The sun broke through about three hours into the round, and by late afternoon, the Pacific was gleaming.
Fredrik Jacobson had the low round of the day, 66 at Pebble Beach that put him in the group at 7 under with Hunter Mahan, John Merrick and Reed.
Today’s forecast is for more sunshine, giving those in the Northeast who are snowed in some pretty pictures on television. Snedeker is part of the celebrity rotation, meaning he will join the circus – Bill Murray, Ray Romano and the rest of their Hollywood crew, along with star power from other sports such as Tony Romo, Matt Cain and even San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh.
Five days after a Super Bowl loss, Harbaugh had reason to smile. He was leading the pro-am portion of the tournament. Harbaugh is playing with Jason Day, who made a late string of birdies for 68 at Spyglass Hill and was two shots behind.
Mahan lost a stroke on the spongy greens. He went to knock in a short bogey putt on the par-3 seventh hole when the ball moved on him.
“It just rolled over in like a heel print or something,” Mahan said. “I didn’t feel like I moved it. I didn’t feel like I had anything much to do with it moving. It’s just a rub of the green, so had to go back and take a penalty. That was frustrating, because I was hitting it so good.”
Mickelson was equally frustrated by throwing away some careless shots. While he was tied for 39th, Mickelson didn’t feel out of contention.
“I love Pebble Beach. I’ve played well there and I’m only one good round away,” he said. “If I can shoot something in the mid-60s, I’ll be right there for Sunday’s round, which is what I care about.”
Mickelson was six shots behind going into the final round last year when he won. That was against Charlie Wi, still searching for his first tour win. At the top now is Snedeker, the second-highest ranked American behind Woods who is averaging 66.5 in his last eight rounds.