A Dream Beginning for Rookie Snedeker

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2007 Buick InvitationalSAN DIEGO -- Brandt Snedeker expected a case of the nerves in the first round of the Buick Invitational.
 
It was his first tournament of the year, and his first event as a card-carrying member of the PGA TOUR. Sure enough, his hands were shaking so badly the ball slipped out of his hand when he tried to tee it up Thursday on the first hole of the North Course at Torrey Pines.
 
But there was a reason behind those nerves he never imagined.
 
Snedeker began his round on the back nine, so he was halfway through his round. And he already was 9 under through nine holes, a record-tying start that allowed him to flirt with golf's magic number.
 
'It's pretty much a dream come true,' the 26-year-old rookie said.
 
The dream fizzled a few holes later.
 
Snedeker had a 3-foot birdie putt on the par-3 third that would have taken him to 11 under through 12 holes, and on an easy North Course where bogeys were barely part of the equation, he would have needed only two birdies over the final six holes to shoot a 59.
 
But he missed it, and never got a closer look at birdie the rest of the round. He gladly settled for an 11-under 61, tying the course record set by Mark Brooks in 1990 and giving him a two-shot lead over Charlie Wi.
 
'The whole front nine was a blur,' Snedeker said, and he proved it a few minutes later. Asked to go over his round, he couldn't remember some of his birdies, much less what those holes even looked like.
 
But he generated the biggest buzz at the Buick Invitational, reducing two-time defending champion Tiger Woods to a supporting role, even though the world's No. 1 player made two eagles in a 6-under 66 to start well in his bid for his seventh straight PGA TOUR victory.
 
Woods had just knocked down the flag with a 5-iron for a short eagle putt on the 18th hole when he noticed a scoreboard on his way to the first tee that showed Snedeker at 8 under through seven holes.
 
'We thought it was a misprint,' Woods said. 'It came up again, so obviously it was not a misprint. That's some great playing.'
 
His second thought must have been, 'Who's Brandt Snedeker?'
 
He's the Tennessee kid with blond hair flowing under his visor, a former U.S. Amateur Public Links champion who turned pro after tying for 41st in the '04 Masters. He didn't get his PGA TOUR card until he finished ninth on the Nationwide Tour money list last year, despite missing a month when he tripped over a tree and broke his right collarbone.
 
Snedeker quickly became the star attraction on a spectacular day in San Diego.
 
He finally saw a large gallery when he reached his 10th hole -- the par-5 first -- only all those people had their backs turned as they watched Woods pitch to the second green.
 
'I made a comment to my caddie walking down that fairway, 'Let's see if we can take some of Tiger's crowd away from him because that means we're doing something pretty good,'' Snedeker said. 'Sure enough, they started following the whole back nine.'
 
There were shouts of '59' as they called out his name, even if they didn't know how to pronounce it.
 
'I've had it butchered so many times that it's no big deal,' he said. 'I've gotten 'Snotlicker' before, so I don't think it could get any worse than that.'
 
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