Snedeker and Rodgers share lead at Farmers Insurance Open
LA JOLLA — Two golfers went to bed Saturday night with a share of the lead entering today’s final round of the Farmers Insurance Open, which is about where the similarities between them end.
One, Brandt Snedeker, is a two-time Ryder Cup player, a FedEx Cup champion and a two-time winner at Torrey Pines who has earned more money here than any golfer not named Tiger Woods.
The other, Patrick Rodgers, is playing in this tournament for the second time and until now never led a PGA Tour event after any round.
Presented with that comparison, Snedeker agreed he had an edge, sort of.
“I think the only advantage is I’ll sleep a lot better than he will tonight,” Snedeker said. “Tomorrow morning, the advantage kind of goes away, whatever that advantage is.”
And yet, his experience here certainly didn’t hurt Snedeker as he rallied for victories in 2012 and 2016.
“The thing that I will use tomorrow,” Snedeker said, “I’ll pull on past experiences here a lot. I’ve played this golf course a ton with these exact same pin positions, so I know where you’ve got to put it all day long, where you can’t miss it, and my game plan will [reflect] that accordingly. He doesn’t have that vast experience in knowing that.
“But when you’re playing great, it doesn’t really matter.”
Rodgers, 24, fit that category Saturday, playing a bogey-free round and equaling the low score of the day with a five-under-par 67 on the South Course. Snedeker shot a 70 to tie him at nine under after three rounds. They are one shot ahead of Tony Finau (67) and C.T. Pan (69), but eight golfers — including first- and second-round leader Justin Rose (73) — are only two shots back, and a total of 31 players are within five strokes of the co-leaders.
Actually, Snedeker came from even further back to win here in 2012, when he trailed by seven shots after three rounds, and 2016, when he was six back.
“I definitely like my odds better than the last two times I won at this place, that’s for sure,” he said, smiling.
Snedeker, 36, will be trying to join Woods and Phil Mickelson as the only golfers to win this tournament at least three times (Woods has done it seven times). The latter two and J.C. Snead are the only players to win it consecutively.
Rodgers, meanwhile, will be playing in the final group for the first time on tour. He broke Woods’ scoring average record at Stanford, and while his pro career hasn’t yet taken off, this is only his second full season on the PGA Tour. Last year he qualified for the FedEx Cup playoffs after three top-10 finishes, including a tie for third at the Travelers. In 2015 he won a Web.com event and also tied for second at the Wells Fargo Championship while playing on a sponsor exemption.
“You have to learn from every experience,” he said. “I had tons in college [he won 11 times to tie another Woods record] and I don’t take that lightly.
“I feel very comfortable in contention. I’m really excited to have a chance.”
Rodgers is a long hitter who led the field in driving distance Saturday with an average of 312 yards. He posted the longest drive on six of the 14 holes, including a 336-yarder at No. 9. He made one of his five birdies there; in fact, the only par-five hole he didn’t birdie was No. 18, where he failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker. It was one of five straight pars he made to close his round.
“I probably let a few opportunities get away from me there coming down the stretch,” he said.
Like Woods, Rodgers was a Nike player, so he had to find new equipment when the company announced last summer it was exiting the club and ball business. He chose Callaway, including a putter he is using for the first time this week after receiving it less than two weeks ago at the company’s Carlsbad headquarters. It’s a new Toulon putter by Odyssey named Indianapolis, and it was developed with consultation from Chip Ganassi Racing, uses race-car technology for stability and even has a race car on the back of the mallet.
All of that spoke specifically to Rodgers, who grew up in Avon, Ind., 10 miles west of Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“I kind of bought into the technology and then the name just happened to be a cool perk,” he said.
Follow Jay Posner on Twitter @sdutPosner
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