SAN DIEGO — Gig Harbor native Kyle Stanley heads back to the scene of his dramatic playoff loss from last year’s Farmers Insurance Open this week at Torrey Pines.
Last year, as a PGA Tour rookie, Stanley stood on the 18th tee during the final round, holding a commanding three-shot lead over Brandt Snedeker. Stanley’s third shot spun down the 18th’s lightning-fast green into the greenside lake, and he eventually took an alarming triple bogey that left him in a playoff with Snedeker.
Stanley lost the playoff and, understandably, felt some major emotions.
Fast forward one year and we arrive at Torrey Pines for today’s first round.
“I’m pretty emotional,” Stanley said Wednesday at Torrey Pines about his gut-wrenching loss. “That was just hard to take. I had my parents here, and it was a dream to win out here. And I’m glad I did it in Phoenix (the next week). But yeah, it was pretty
Snedeker, even a year later, still feels empathy toward Stanley’s misfortune.
“I obviously didn’t want Kyle to have to go through that,” Snedeker said. “But I had a great benefit from it.”
Snedeker went on to win the PGA Tour’s $10 million season-long FedEx Cup, Stanley rebounded the very next week and won the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Stanley already feels some crowd support from the fans this week at Torrey Pines.
“It’s been nice,” Stanley said. “I’m sure we’ll get some people rallying behind me this year which will be nice.
“It’s always nice to feed off the crowd and have people behind you.”
Stanley went back during the week’s practice rounds to play that now infamous final hole. He has since changed equipment from head to toe and now plays a Nike ball.
We will see this week how much of an effect that has on his performance.
Nike also sponsors Tiger Woods, who made his own history on the Torrey Pines South Course’s 18th hole. It was there that he willed in a must-make putt to force a playoff with eventual runner-up Rocco Mediate in the 2008 U.S. Open.
“I still would love to win here at some point,” Stanley said. “This tournament has a little more substance to me than to maybe other people because of what happened. And I’d like to kind of redeem myself here.”
How much would he relish being in contention down the stretch on Sunday?
“That would be fantastic,” Stanley said. “Getting in contention here on Sunday, that’s what I want to do.”