After starting the day tied for the lead, Brandt Snedeker found himself a whopping five shots back after just eight holes Sunday at the Sony Open.
But the seven-time PGA Tour winner rallied, making five birdies on his final 10 holes to shoot 4 under for the day, reach 20 under for the championship, and force a playoff with eventual winner Fabian Gomez.
Unfortunately, Snedeker refused to learn from his mistakes off the tee at the 18th hole, and it finally cost him.
On three trips down the dogleg left, par 5, Snedeker hit driver three times and missed the fairway to the right three times. Though he was able to recover and make birdie in regulation thanks to a quality up-and-down from off the green, the decision to stick with driver cost him in the playoff.
On the first extra hole, Snedeker drove it to nearly the exact same spot he played from on the 72nd hole, only this time his second shot from the bermuda rough clipped a tree and left him well short of the green, resulting in a par. After failing to hook the ball enough to hold the fairway the first two times, Snedeker went back to the 18th tee, pulled driver a third time, hit a double-cross that flared right, and found a fairway bunker. He was once again unable to make birdie when his putt lost steam and slid by on the low side, handing the tournament to Gomez.
Rather than mention his struggles of the tee in a post-round interview, Snedeker criticized his putting.
"I’m obviously disappointed," he said. "I had some good looks coming down the stretch, and, uncharacteristically, I hit some pretty weak putts. I don’t like missing putts short, and I did that quite a few times coming down the stretch. I just never felt comfortable with the speed of the greens all week."
On the bright side, the 35-year-old veteran said he's hoping his play in Hawaii - a T-3 at Kapalua and a runner-up at Waialae - will provide him some sustained momentum as he prepares for his title defense at next month's AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
On the other hand, he knows he missed out on a golden opportunity to further improve his Ryder Cup standing and add another Tour victory to his resume.
"I fought hard," Snedeker said. "I gave myself a chance. But all in all, you’ve got to figure out a way to get it done and I didn’t do it."