LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - American Brandt Snedeker won the weather-hit Farmers Insurance Open without hitting a shot on Monday as his closest pursuers succumbed to brutal conditions in southern California.
Snedeker carded a brilliant three-under-par 69 on Sunday, completing his round shortly before play was halted due to unplayable conditions at Torrey Pines outside San Diego.
He was one stroke behind on-course leader Jimmy Walker at the time and thought it most unlikely his score would hold up for victory.
But Snedeker caught a lucky break when the winds that buffeted the field on Sunday continued to whip across the course on Monday, causing havoc among those who had to complete the round.
Walker, who had eight holes left, was among those who struggled when play resumed at 11am local time.
The event was completed in a surreal atmosphere as players picked their way between gum trees felled by the winds, and competed in funereal silence due to the absence of spectators who were barred from the course due to the dangerous conditions.
Nobody could match the score posted by Snedeker who finished at six-under 282 for his eighth career victory on the PGA Tour.
He finished one stroke ahead of South Korean KJ Choi who missed a long birdie putt at the last that would have forced a playoff.
Walker tied for fourth, three shots back.
After a nervy, sleepless night, Snedeker passed time on the practice putting green in case he was needed for a playoff, watching bits of the action on a television monitor.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am to be the champion again and how unbelievable the last 48 hours have been,” Snedeker, 35, told the Golf Channel.
”Everything worked out perfectly for me. You cannot make up the extreme events that had to happen for me to have this chance. They all fell in line for me perfectly. I hate watching this stuff because I am in no control.
“I would not have guessed it this morning when I woke up. I would have thought best-case scenario was a playoff.”
Snedeker’s victory came after he made the cut with nothing to spare on Friday, the first time a player has gone on to win from such a position since 2010.
Half of his PGA Tour victories have come in California, two at Torrey Pines and two at Pebble Beach, and he has now won seven times since the start of the 2011 season, a number bettered only by Rory McIlroy (10) and Tiger Woods (eight).
“I wish we could play all year out here on the West Coast because I play fantastic and love being out here,” he said.
Reporting by Andrew Both; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes and Tony Jimenez