JOE BIDDLE: Snedeker still in hunt on Moving Day

If Saturday is Moving Day at the Masters, Friday was Treading Water Day.

There were no knockout punches landed at Augusta National, as unpredictable, swirling winds tortured the minds of most of the players in the field.

At the halfway point, Australian Jason Day was leading at 6-under par. Two players were a shot back and three more stood at 4-under.

One of those who are still very much in the hunt, at 4-under, was Nashville's Brandt Snedeker.

The front nine Friday was a roller-coaster ride for the former Montgomery Bell Academy and Vanderbilt graduate. He had three birdies, three bogeys for level par 36.

On a day when the wind played tricks, and par was your Best Friend Forever, Snedeker settled down on the back nine as his driver straightened and his putter warmed to the task.

He made a clutch putt to save par on the par-5, 15th hole. He followed up with a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 16. Snedeker then barely missed his birdie attempt on the next hole.

Snedeker pointed to the birdie at 16 as turning his round into a positive.

“I made a bunch of pars to start the back nine. To have a birdie putt, a 20-footer, go in on 16 gave me some momentum,'' Snedeker said.

This day, Snedeker was able to close out the round with birdies on two of his last three holes, perhaps a preview of how he will play Saturday.

On 18, a difficult uphill par-4 that has served as a deciding hole in some previous Masters tournaments. Snedeker hit an 8-iron on his approach and rolled in the birdie putt for his second 2-under par 70.

“A great way to end the day,'' he said of the birdie on 18. “That gives me a lot of momentum going into the weekend and a lot of good stuff yet to come, hopefully.''

Snedeker has been in the hunt here before, only to suffer weekend meltdowns.

By far his most memorable round at the Masters was on Sunday, 2008. After recording an eagle on the second hole that day, Snedeker found himself atop the leaderboard. But his tee shot on No. 3 found a lip of a bunker and led to a bogey. He played his last 16 holes in 6-over, tied for third place, four shots behind champion Trevor Immelman.

Snedeker was crushed. Emotionally, he was a train wreck. This tournament means so much to him. He feels a kindred spirit on this course, in this tournament.

“I have no clue why I am so emotional,'' Snedeker said in the 2008 press conference where he found himself burying his head in a towel as his face was streaked with tears.

“I was laughing outside. I'm crying in here,'' he said, sobbing.

That was five years ago. Snedeker has grown through the rough times. He knows winning here requires grinding, against the weather, against the course, against his emotions.

His confidence to close out tournaments has markedly improved. He won the FedEx Cup championship at Atlanta's East Lake last season, holding on to a two-shot lead despite sharp pains in his rib cage.

He has now won five times on the PGA Tour. He is currently ranked No. 5 in the world, despite missing five weeks with rib cage injuries.

The leaderboard is tightly packed as the golfers head into the weekend. Two final rounds can either make, or break, a golfer.

Snedeker likes where he is in life and on the course.

“I haven't had as many tough shots as I have the past couple of days,'' Snedeker said. “I tightened up the driver a considerable amount. So if I keep doing that over the next few days, it will be fun.''

Snedeker is capable of winning his first green jacket. But so are others near the top of the leaderboard. Snedeker's time here will come. It will all unfold over the next two days.

Contact Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at

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