La Jolla, CA
What happened to Kyle Stanley afternoon at Torrey Pines with the Farmers Insurance Open title virtually in his hip pocket, is nearly beyond description.
Simply mention the names Robert Garrigus at Memphis in 2010 and Jean van de Velde at the 1999 British Open and it conjures up the unthinkable, the most horrific of final hole collapses in the game of golf.
Stanley, a second year player on the PGA Tour, was staring his first career victory directly in the eye. He had started the back nine with a six-shot lead, lost half of it but still found himself 100 yards from the green at the par five 18th in two, holding a three-shot lead with a routine wedge shot then a couple of putts for victory.
What followed was a golfer's worst nightmare, Stanley's nightmare. His wedge shot hit past the pin but had too much spin and it drew back off the green, down the steep front slope and into the pond guarding the green.
He dropped from nearly the same distance and hit his fifth shot to the back of the green. His first putt ended up a little less than four feet short and he pulled the putt badly.
The triple-bogey eight brought Brandt Snedeker back to the course for a playoff. Snedeker had finished nearly 40 minutes earlier with a 67 for a 16-under par total of 272 and he had accepted congratulations for his runnerup finish. "My day is done," Snedeker told a media member.
Stanley's triple brought him from 19-under back to 16-under and into a playoff with Snedeker.
Both players birdied the 18th the second time around. Snedeker in the same manner in which he made birdie to close regulation play -- a wedge third shot within three feet. Stanley hit his second shot long but chipped next to Snedeker and made his birdie, one hole too late.
At the second playoff hole, the 195-yard par three 16th, Snedeker flew the green, hit a wonderful pitch to six feet then watched Stanley leave his putt from 40 feet short by nearly the same distance.
Snedeker was away and rammed his par putt home then watched as Stanley blew his putt past the hole to complete his unbelievable collapse.
"I'm so excited," Snedeker said after his unlikely victory, the third of his career. "But my heart goes out to Kyle. He'll come back from this."
Stanley was visibly shaken as he walked off the 16th green after losing the playoff. "I played well all week," he said in a soft voice. "It's kind of a shock."
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