Pebble Beach, California: Brandt Snedeker, runner-up to Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in the past two weeks, fired a four-under par 68 on Saturday to share the lead after 54 holes at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Snedeker, the 32-year-old American who won last year’s PGA playoff crown, stood alongside Korean-American PGA rookie James Hahn on 12-under 202 through three rounds in pursuit of the $1.15 million (Dh4.22 million) top prize at the $6.5 million event.
“It was a fun day,” Snedeker said. “I played great start to finish. I had a couple hiccups in there but overall I played well. I’ve putted well the past two days. Left me a little bit today but hopefully it will be back tomorrow.”
Pros played alongside amateurs, many of them celebrities in entertainment and sport, over three courses during the first three rounds before the cut ahead of Sunday’s finish at Pebble Beach.
Snedeker, playing at Pebble Beach, birdied the par-five second and answered a bogey at the par-three fifth by finishing the front nine with four birdies in a row.
“I hit my irons really close on the front,” Snedeker said. “I had six- to eight-footers for birdies on the front. On the back I had birdie chances but couldn’t convert them.”
After a bogey at 10 and birdie at 11, Snedeker parred his way to the clubhouse. “Only giving away one bogey coming in out here was a help,” he said.
Hahn fired a bogey-free 66, six-under par, at Spyglass Hill to match Snedeker at the top.
Starting on the back nine, Hahn birdied the par-five 11th and 14th holes, added another at the par-four 17th and then closed the round with three birdies in a row to grab a share of the lead.
“My attitude [was great],” Hahn said. “I started off well, told myself I was going to give myself a lot of looks, 10 to 15 feet, and you have to make those putts.”
Hahn, who played college golf at the nearby University of California, said that Sunday’s round, the most important of his career to date, will be “just another day in the office for me. I’m just going to go out and have fun.”
Hahn admitted he will feel the nerves, even with his brother serving as his caddie. “Nervous means I care a lot,” Hahn said. “I’m more excited than anything.”
The 31-year-old, who was born in Seoul, did a ‘Gangnam-style’ celebration dance last week after making a 20-foot, final-round birdie at Phoenix’s rowdy 16th hole, adopting the moves that made Korean performer Psy a YouTube smash.
Hahn was saying he had pushed the bar high for a repeat dance show at Pebble Beach but said: “Maybe a winning putt on 18 might do a little something.”
Hahn might have the chance to make one in the final group with Snedeker, who leads the US PGA Tour in scoring average and birdies but hopes not to settle for another second-best showing.
“I’ve got to take advantage of the opportunities — I didn’t today,” Snedeker said. “In my view I saved them all up for tomorrow. You have to make those chances if you are going to win.”
American Chris Kirk, whose lone PGA title came at the 2011 Viking Classic, fired a six-under 64 at the Monterey Peninsula Shore course to stand third, one stroke off the pace at 203.
Kirk, who began his third round on the back nine, birdied the par-five 12th to start a run of four birdies in five holes. He had back-to-back birdies at the second and third then answered a bogey at the par-three seventh with a birdie at the par-three ninth.
Defending champion Phil Mickelson slipped on wet rocks and fell on his rear at the 18th hole at Pebble Beach on his way to a triple-bogey 8 that dropped him out of contention.
“I got lucky I didn’t get hurt,” Mickelson said. “To finish with a triple, it didn’t feel great. It was a fun day to play golf. I just wish I could have played better. That triple really just took me out of it.”
202 Brandt Snedeker (U.S.) 66 68 68
James Hahn (U.S.) 71 65 66 203 Chris Kirk (U.S.) 71 68 64 204 Patrick Reed (U.S.) 68 69 67 205 Richard Lee (U.S.) 68 71 66 206 Retief Goosen (South Africa) 71 68 67
Robert Garrigus (U.S.) 71 69 66
Jason Day (Australia) 68 68 70
James Driscoll (U.S.) 72 67 67
Jimmy Walker (U.S.) 68 71 67 207 Sean O’Hair (U.S.) 70 67 70
Luke Guthrie (U.S.) 68 70 69
Kevin Stadler (U.S.) 69 69 69
Webb Simpson (U.S.) 71 71 65
Fredrik Jacobson (Sweden) 71 66 70
Ted Potter Jr. (U.S.) 67 67 73 208 Charlie Wi (South Korea) 70 70 68