PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Brandt Snedeker goes into the weekend at Pebble Beach with another chance to win, this time without golf’s biggest stars in his way.
Snedeker played bogey-free at tough Spyglass Hill on Friday for a 4-under 68, giving him a share of the lead with Ted Potter Jr. in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Potter three-putted his final hole at Monterey Peninsula for a 67.
Hunter Mahan was among those one shot behind. With one more round before everyone has played all three courses in the rotation, the leaderboard was a big traffic jam. Three dozen players were within five shots of the lead.
Snedeker, who was at 8-under 134, felt he was at an advantage because he goes to Pebble Beach for the final two rounds. And there’s one other edge for his psyche — Tiger Woods isn’t playing, and defending champion Phil Mickelson is six shots behind.
Snedeker has played so well this year that he is leading the FedEx Cup standings without having won. He was runner-up the past two weeks — four shots behind Woods at Torrey Pines, and then four shots behind Mickelson in the Phoenix Open.
“Keep running into guys who are or who are going to be in the Hall of Fame,” Snedeker said at the start of the week.
Mickelson, going after a record-tying fifth win in the event, was easing his way into contention until he made three bogeys in a four-hole stretch along the ocean at Spyglass Hill for a 71.
Snedeker made it look easy at Spyglass, even though the day began in rugged conditions with a light rain and temperatures in the low 40s. He hit a towering 8-iron on the downhill, par-3 12th hole that plopped 3 feet next to the cup for his first birdie. He added a pair of simple up-and-down birdies on the par 5s and then closed out a solid day with an 8-iron to 5 feet on the eighth hole. Snedeker sees the upside of his two second-place finishes.
“That’s how you win out here,” he said. “You keep putting yourself in position, and the more times you do, the more success you’re going to have. ... I’m doing a better job this week of making my way around the golf courses and not putting myself in bad spots and getting out of tough situations very quickly.”
His goal for the last two days?
“Not do anything stupid,” he said. “Unfortunately, I don’t do it very often.”
Potter remains somewhat of a mystery. He won last year in his rookie season at The Greenbrier Classic to claim a peculiar footnote in history — the only player to win a PGA Tour event in which Woods and Mickelson missed the cut. Still, his performance has been spotty. Potter missed nine out of the 12 cuts going into The Greenbrier, and then missed four out of nine cuts after his win.
“It’s just a funny game like that,” Potter said. “Some weeks you play really well and you get the right kicks and everything goes well. And then there are weeks you can still hit the ball well and get the bad kicks.”
It’s been good so far on the Monterey Peninsula, which has been graced with good weather. Even though the cold rain finally arrived, it didn’t last long. The sun broke through about three hours into the round, and by late afternoon, the Pacific was gleaming.
Fredrik Jacobson had the low round of the day, a 66 at Pebble Beach that put him in the group at 7 under with Mahan, John Merrick and Patrick Reed, who attended University High.
Langer, Pernice tied for lead at Champions Tour allian championship: In Boca Raton, Fla., Bernhard Langer and Tom Pernice Jr. each shot 6-under 66 to tie for the first-round lead at the Allianz Championship on Friday.
Langer, who holed out a bunker shot to win here in a playoff in 2010, birdied three of the last four holes at Broken Sound.
Pernice was even through eight holes, but played the next six holes in six-under, including an eagle at No. 5 when he holed a pitching wedge from 128 yards, to charge into contention.
Defending champion Corey Pavin, Roger Chapman, Fred Funk, Scott Simpson and two players making their Champions Tour debuts — Rocco Mediate and Bart Bryant — were a shot back after 67s.
Fisher and Sterne co-leaders: In Johannesburg, Trevor Fisher Jr. shot a 9-under 62 and Richard Sterne had a 65 Friday to share the lead after the second round of the Joburg Open.
Fisher had an eagle and seven birdies, including a run of three straight in his back nine on the West Course at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club. Sterne went bogey-free for the second consecutive round on the East Course.
The South Africans were 15 under at the European Tour event. George Coetzee (64) was three shots back and two-time winner Charl Schwartzel (65) trailed the leaders by five strokes.
Australian trio leads NZ Women’s Open: In Christchurch, New Zealand, Australians Tamara Johns, Nikki Campbell and Sarah Oh each shot 3-under 69 on Friday to lead the 54-hole New Zealand women’s golf after the opening round.
The Australian trio led three players at 2-under, including the world’s No. 1 amateur, 15-year-old Korean-born New Zealander Lydia Ko. American Alison Walshe and Thailand’s Nontaya Srisawang were also at 2-under after the first round at the Clearwater Golf Club.
Players in the European and Australasian tours co-sanctioned event coped with windy conditions Friday which hampered low scoring.