It is a given that the Masters doesn't begin until the back nine on Sunday.
For third round co-leader Brandt Snedeker, the Masters ended on the back nine Sunday.
The Nashvillian was still in the hunt when he and Angel Cabrera made the turn. But a blown two-foot par putt evaded the cup on No. 10 and it was clear Snedeker was unnerved.
Another bogey on No. 11 pretty much spelled another disastrous finish for Snedeker, much like his Masters meltdown in 2008. At least that year he managed to finish tied for third. He left Sunday tied for sixth after a 3-over-par 75 final round.
Bogeys on three of the first five holes after the turn will not win many Masters tournaments. Missing a gimme 2-footer will not win green jackets.
Snedeker could never stop the bleeding. He finished with a birdie, but the train had left the station. Handicapped by too many wayward tee shots on Sunday, Snedeker also lost what has always been his strength, his putting touch.
“I did not putt the way you're supposed to putt around Augusta. I just never had the speed. If I putt the way I normally putt and don't have those two loose swings, I'm right there with a chance to win the golf tournament,'' Snedeker said.
Playing in a rain much of the round didn't help Snedeker, as it produced slower greens and kept drives from getting a full run-out on the fairways. It didn't faze longer players such as Australian assassins Adam Scott and Jason Day, as well as the 43-year-old grandfather Cabrera.
Snedeker dumped his 223-yard second shot in Rae's Creek on the par-5 13th hole and scrambled to save par, but his tee shot went left on No. 14, hitting a tree and dropping down, leaving him a long second shot, which hit on the green and rolled off the front. It led to another bogey and left him and out of the picture.
“Any time you have a chance to win the Masters and you don't come through, you're going to be upset, you're going to cry, you know, but I'll get through it,'' Snedeker told reporters after his round.
“I'm going to come back here next year and I'm going to do my best to get in that last group again.''
The former Vanderbilt All-American and last year's FedEx Cup champion and winner of the Tour Championship at Atlanta's East Lake, was bubbling with confidence going into the final 18 holes at Augusta National.
He told the media he was not the same 27-year-old golfer that fell apart in the final round of the 2008 Masters. Snedeker said Saturday he didn't have a clue back then. He didn't have a game plan on how to win the Masters. He was confident this week he could weather any punch Augusta National could throw his way.
Snedeker professed to have gained what he was missing then over the ensuing five years. But he failed to nail clutch shots when he needed them most Sunday. He lost too much ground to catch those golfers in the passing lane.
Cabrera weathered some bad holes to force a playoff, thanks to a must-make birdie on No. 18. But he lost in sudden death to Adam Scott, the first Australian to win the coveted green jacket.
Snedeker could only watch from the sidelines. His credentials as the No. 5 ranked player in the world did not match up with his disappointing performance in the final round.
It may well be that Snedeker may want to win the Masters too much, that it ties his nerves in knots when it's within his grasp and proves to be a detriment. Golf rewards golfers that make clutch shots, shots Snedeker has not made under the enormous pressure of winning the coveted green jacket.
Snedeker will survive the bitter disappointment he is feeling now. He is coming off a career-best year of his career and has an even brighter future in front of him.
Brandt Snedeker will have more opportunities to win major tournaments. Until then he will keep grinding, fine-tuning a game that will hold up under pressure.
He was inches away Sunday. That is what makes golf one of the more cruel sports one can play.
Contact wkrn.com Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at firstname.lastname@example.org.