In this big-money era of professional golf, where fans are sometimes turned off by robot-like players mailing it in on Sundays and still collecting nice paychecks, Brandt Snedeker's reaction to coming up short in the Masters was likely viewed by many as a breath of fresh air.
Playing in the final pairing with eventual champion Trevor Immelman at Augusta National Golf Club, Snedeker shot a disappointing 5-over-par 77 Sunday and finished tied for third place with Stewart Cink. Afterwards, Snedeker simply couldn't keep his emotions in check as tears streamed down his face while he spoke to reporters, eventually burying his face in a towel to sob.
"It was a tough day. Trevor played fantastic," Snedeker told reporters. "I obviously couldn't get anything going [and] couldn't make any putts when I needed to. I'm still a little emotional, as you can tell, but it's one of those things: You've got to kind of pick yourself up, realize what you did wrong and go fix it."
Snedeker began the day two shots back of Immelman and certainly had his chances to be the one winning his first major title. Immelman shot 3-over 75 - the highest final round by a Masters champion since Arnold Palmer in 1962 - but the 2007 PGA Tour rookie of the year couldn't take advantage.
With a swirling wind that contributed to only four players breaking par in the final round, Snedeker's day was an absolute roller coaster. The 27 year old opened bogey, eagle, bogey in a round that included nine bogeys in all.
"You just never really felt comfortable, no matter how good you're playing or how well you thought you were striking the golf ball," Snedeker said. "The wind could come up or come down and affect your golf ball so dramatically, and it was the same way on the greens. It was just a day you never really felt comfortable."
Snedeker said his only hope is that he'll learn and grow from the experience of playing in his first Masters as a professional.
"Obviously, being in the final pairing two days is something I'm very proud of - to be coming back here next year, hopefully we won't end up here in tears all over again," said Snedeker, who earned an invitational to play in the 2009 Masters with his top-16 finish. "I found out a lot about myself today."
While he would've liked to have put up a better title defense, Zach Johnson said it was a thrill spending the past year as the reigning Masters champion.
Johnson closed with a 5-over 77 Sunday and finished tied for 20th at 3-over 291 for the tournament. At the end of the day, he took part in the Masters tradition of placing the green jacket on Trevor Immelman as the new champion.
"It's meant a lot," Johnson told reporters. "Having the green jacket on my back for a year has been fantastic. It's one of those things you don't want to give up, but that's why we play it every year."
With the difficult playing conditions Sunday, Johnson said he didn't have much of an opportunity to reminisce.
"I stayed pretty focused on today," Johnson said. "Just because it was so tough out there. It's hard not to just think about what you're doing at the present. It was just a very, very difficult test."
While the vast majority of the field was struggling in the breezy conditions, Miguel Angel Jimenez easily posted the best round of the day with a 4-under-par 68. The performance vaulted Jimenez into a tie for eighth place at 1-under 287 for the tournament.
Jimenez had a bogey at No. 5, but chipped in for eagle at No. 7 and added birdies at Nos. 13, 14 and 18.
"It was very satisfying," Jimenez told reporters. "That was the goal, no?"
Jimenez was in danger of missing the cut after a first-round 77. However, he came back with a 70 in the second round and shot 72-68 on the weekend.
"I hit it very solid from the tee to greens all week," Jimenez said.
ESPN's decision to acquire first- and second-round coverage of the Masters paid off. Friday's second-round broadcast was the most-viewed golf telecast in cable history, drawing a 3.1 rating after pulling a 2.2 in Thursday's first round, according to the Associated Press.
"It's gratifying to begin our domestic relationship with the Masters tournament with such terrific results," ESPN President George Bodenheimer said in a press release.
ESPN had been televising the Masters internationally since 1993. The network signed a deal to telecast the first two rounds this year in the United States, taking over for the USA network, which had televised the tournament's first two days since 1982.
April 14, 2008
Davis Love III, who played the final 57 holes of the Children's Miracle Network Classic without a bogey, finished at 25-under 263 in the season-ending event played at the Walt Disney World Golf Resort in Florida. It has been a long road back for Love, who severely sprained his ankle late last year. After tearing ligaments, he needed surgery, and he's spent much of this year rehabilitating the injury.
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