He had carded 12 consecutive pars, offering testimony to Brandt Snedeker’s patience and perhaps a glimpse into a player determined to make amends for a Masters failure.
Snedeker knew the questions about his tears following a final-round disappointment in 2008 were coming Saturday. He had just authored a 3-under-par 69, and he again had fought his way into the final group, this time tied for the lead with Angel Cabrera at 7-under par.
“I had no clue what I was doing in 2008,” Snedeker said. “I had no game plan.”
On Saturday, his third-round strategy was remarkably executed. Snedeker started two shots behind and looked to be treading water. He missed greens at Nos. 3, 4 and 12, but he saved par each time.
Maybe it was unspectacular, but Snedeker was emboldened. He struck with birdies at Nos. 13 and 15, then rifled his tee shot at No. 16 to three feet.
He finished things off with two pars, of course, and got some luck at No. 18, when he pushed his drive into the trees and had the ball bounce into the fairway.
He then ripped a 216-yard approach pin high to set up a two-putt 4.
“Like a duck on the pond,” Snedeker said to describe his emotions. “It might seem like I'm calm on the outside, but I’m going a-mile-a-minute on the inside."
That wasn’t the case in 2008. Then, Snedeker was second after three days, carding 69-68-70, but he collapsed on Sunday with a 77 and tied for third behind winner Trevor Immelman.
But that was five years ago, and even Snedeker admits pars mean a lot more on Saturday than Sunday at Augusta National.
“What I’ve worked my whole life for is tomorrow,” Snedeker said. “I’m not here to get a good finish. I’m not here to finish top 5. I’m here to win, and that’s all I’m going to be focused on.
“I’m going to be disappointed if I don’t win. Period.”
Snedeker won at Pebble Beach earlier this year, capping an astounding sixth-month run that took him to fifth in the world rankings. But a rib injury derailed his season, and Snedeker took his time to return, patiently healing and preparing for the Masters.
“I’m mentally fresh and physically fresh,” he said. “I’m not quite back to where I was, but I feel very, very close. The confidence is coming back. Everything.”
It showed in what he called a “clean card,” with no bogeys, 15 pars and birdies where he carefully picked his spots. Snedeker hit 12 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens, and he knows he can improve on the 31 putts he totaled Saturday.
“This is a golf course that’s baiting you into making mistakes,” he said. “It’s waiting to make you pay for a bad shot, and I managed my game well today.”