LAS VEGAS – There are long odds in the world of gaming, like backing an 80-1 shot to win at the track. Drawing to an inside straight. Taking the 19-point underdog to win outright.
And betting Brandt Snedeker to win the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at the outset of Saturday’s third round at TPC Summerlin.
The odds were stacked against Snedeker, who made the cut on the number with a birdie on his last hole in the second round. He was first off at 7:30 a.m. local time. And at the birdie festival that is the Shriners, he was seven shots behind the lead.
“Pedal to metal,” Snedeker said about his mindset at the start of the round. “I hit it close on one and missed it and felt like I was behind the eight ball already playing one hole not making a birdie. You feel like if I’m not make birdies here I’m losing ground. To be even par through six holes today, I was like, I got to do something.
“This is not going to work.”
Then Snedeker got to work. He kick started his round with a chip-in eagle from 85 feet on the ninth, then ripped off five consecutive birdies starting on the 12th to grab the lead. In all, he had eight birdies and an eagle to offset two bogeys and signed for an 8-under-par 63 to move to 15 under.
Still, Snedeker knows the odds won’t be in his favor come Sunday’s final round. In fact, shortly after he finished speaking with the media, Snedeker’s lead was gone as Adam Hadwin took over the top spot on the leaderboard with a 62.
“The course is there for the taking, just like it has been the last two days. I’ll probably be three or four back going into tomorrow, but at least I gave myself a shot after where I started,” Snedeker said. “I’ll go watch some football, get some rest, and be ready to go tomorrow.”
And Snedeker knows he can leave Las Vegas feeling like a winner without having to take hold of the championship hardware.
He’s been in a funk since tying for third in the Farmers Insurance Open in January. In 14 starts since then, he missed eight cuts and finished tied for 41st or worse in four other starts.
The stretch necessitated some changes and Snedeker brought on instructor Bradley Hughes and switched to longtime caddie Mike Hicks, who was on the bag when Payne Stewart won the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2.
The changes are paying off. He was in contention in last week’s Sanderson Farms Championship before a poor final round dropped him into a tie for 17th.
“Really excited about the team I got around me,” he said. “Hicks on the bag, who has been out here forever, is kind of a calming influence for me a little bit. And Bradley has really given me a lot of confidence in my swing and how I swing it and knowing what I need to do to miss it in certain spots and to let it go.
“I’m driving it way better, more consistent week to week, and feel like I can build off this. I’ve got a lot confidence. I had a lot of confidence last week. Even after I got done playing I knew that what I was doing was putting me on the right path and I felt like I was striking the ball way better and more consistently. Again this week driven it great and given myself lots of opportunities, so excited about tomorrow and seeing if I can improve on what I did last week.
“(Hughes) has given me confidence to let me release the club again. I’m obviously a very handsy player, a very feel player, but he’s given me a couple key things to let me know that if it I do one of these things well I can release it as far as I want to. And that’s comforting, especially under pressure and when you have tough shots, to know you release it and you can kind of get a one-way miss going.”