PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Brandt Snedeker didn’t have to take a back seat to anyone at Pebble Beach.
A runner-up to Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson each of the last two weeks, Snedeker finished off a record performance Sunday with a 7-under 65 for a two-shot victory over Chris Kirk in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Snedeker holed a 10-foot birdie on the 17th hole, and then tapped in for par to finish at 19-under 267. That broke the tournament record by one shot held by Mickelson (2007) and Mark O’Meara (1997), who each had a 20-under 268 when Poppy Hills was still in the rotation.
The hottest player in golf, Snedeker finally has a trophy to show for it.
“Feels great to finish one,” he said. “The last two weeks, playing great but running into two Hall of Famers, really motivated me to go out and prove that I can handle the lead.”
In five starts this year, he already had a win, two second-place finishes and a third. He never had much of a chance against Woods at Torrey Pines or Mickelson at the Phoenix Open, who each had big leads going into the final round.
Snedeker was tied with James Hahn, a 31-year-old rookie from the Bay Area, and seized control with an eagle and three birdies on the opening seven holes. Snedeker responded to his only bogey, a three-putt at No. 9, by rolling in birdie putts on the next two holes.
He took a long gaze out at the Pacific while waiting on the 18th tee at Pebble Beach, perhaps reflecting on an amazing ride over the last six months — winning the Tour Championship to capture the FedEx Cup and its $10 million prize, his first Ryder Cup team, and a blazing start to the new season.
Snedeker goes to No. 4 in the world, the highest ranking of his career and second only to Woods among Americans.
“Kind of crazy to think what’s happened,” he said.
He now heads off to a vacation on Maui before returning for the stretch run leading to the Masters.
Winning a major is the next step for Snedeker, a 32-year-old from Nashville who has emerged as a veritable threat wherever he plays with a confident putting stroke and a dramatic increase in hitting fairways off the tee.
Hahn wound up with a 2-under 70 and tied for third with Jimmy Walker (66) and Kevin Stadler (65). The day wasn’t a total loss for Hahn. He previously tied for fourth at the Humana Challenge, and his tie for third gets him into Riviera next week. He hasn’t missed a cut this year and is already 11th in the FedEx Cup standings.
Ottawa’s Brad Fritsch shot a 69 to finish at 4 under in a tie for 40th, while Mike Weir (73) of Brights Grove, Ont., was two shots back in a tie for 50th.
The only drama on a pristine day on the Monterey Peninsula came from Patrick Reed. His 12-foot birdie putt on the final hole gave him a tie for seventh with Fredrik Jacobson, and kept Jacobson from qualifying for the Match Play Championship by 0.0002 points.
The final spot in the 64-man field based on the world ranking instead goes to Shane Lowery of Ireland, who did not play this week.
The only disappointment for Snedeker was having to settle for par on the final hole, and watching his amateur, Toby Wilt, graze the edge of the cup with his final putt. That means he had to share first place in the pro-am with Michael Letzig and John Erickson. Wilt, an investor from Nashville, Tenn., endowed a golf scholarship at Vanderbilt, and Snedeker was the first recipient.
Snedeker has come a long way and might just be getting started. This was the fifth win of his career.
Mickelson, the defending champion, hit two more balls in the ocean on the 18th hole, but at least this time he didn’t slip on the rocks. He closed with a 72 and tied for 60th.