PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — At least this time, Brandt Snedeker feels it’s a fair fight.
He started the final round at Torrey Pines seven shots behind Tiger Woods. A week later in the Phoenix Open, he went into the final round six shots behind Phil Mickelson.
Snedeker, the hottest player in golf this year without a win to show for it, put matters into his own hands Saturday by running off four straight birdies along the prettiest part of Pebble Beach for a 4-under 68 that gave him a share of the lead with 31-year-old rookie James Hahn in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
“You never know what tomorrow holds, but I feel like I’m in great position, and I’m going to be surely more prepared, no matter who is around me in the last group,” said Snedeker, who posted his ninth straight round in the 60s. “I’m probably going to have the most experience of anybody in those last couple groups of winning a golf tournament.”
That won’t make Sunday any easier.
Snedeker made a detour to the CBS Sports booth after his round, and then headed straight to the practice green. He was irritated by missing four birdie putts inside 10 feet, including on the last two holes that cost him some room for error on the final day.
Hahn birdied his last three holes for a 66 at Spyglass Hill, putting him in the final group for the first time. They were at 12-under 202, one shot ahead of Chris Kirk, who had a 64 on the super-fast greens of Monterey Peninsula.
Mickelson tumbled down the rocks and down the leaderboard on the final hole at Pebble Beach.
The defending champion hit a tee shot on the par-5 18th that ran over the cliff and down toward the beach. Mickelson went down to see if the ball could be found — and possibly played — when his right foot gave way and he handed hard on his back side, bracing for the fall with his hands.