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Stanley Discusses One that Got Away
By the time Kyle Stanley got to the press room to meet with reporters about his triple-bogey on the 72nd hole and subsequent playoff loss to Brandt Snedeker, he had regained a measure of composure, a Sisyphean feat considering what had transpired minutes before.
On the 18th tee at Torrey Pines' South course, the 24-year-old from Gig Harbor, Wash., enjoyed a four-stroke lead in the Farmers Insurance Open. All he had to do was avoid what Jean Van de Veldt did in the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie when the Frenchman triple-bogeyed the final hole and lost the Claret Jug in a playoff to Paul Lawrie.
Playing in the group ahead, Snedeker birdied the par-5 18th - the well-known closing hole with the green that tilts steeply toward the small pond in front of it, to move to three shots of Stanley.
What happened next will go down in golf's annals. Though not a "major" collapse like Van de Veldt's, it was close as Stanley saw his third shot land well past the pin on 18, spin back and through the green into the pond; hit his fifth to 25 feet above the hole; and need two more putts for a triple-bogey eight. Then, on the second playoff hole, Snedeker got up and down from behind the green on the par-3 16th, while Stanley three-putted from 45 feet for bogey.
Snedeker, who conceded the tournament was over when he walked off the course with a 67 in regulation, was as shocked as everybody else at what happened. "It's a crazy day is about right," the Nashville native said later. "I went through a whole range of emotions over the last two days, let alone in the last hour and a half to be sitting where I am. I was sitting in here literally an hour ago wondering if I was - completely content with a second-place finish. Thought I played well and I was happy with where I was.
"Then Kyle hit the water on 18, and it piqued my interest a little bit. I still thought he would get up and down or make double and still win. Then when I had the second chance, I really had to get myself refocused and realize that this tournament is anybody's now, now that I was in the playoff. If anybody had an advantage, I did, because I had done that a couple times before. I had won in a playoff on Tour, and I know Kyle probably wasn't in his best frame of mind at that point after doing what he did on 18.
"So I really refocused. I played great in the playoff . . . I'm just floored right now. I had no idea I was going to be in this room right now for a second time."
He also commiserated with Stanley, whose first Tour victory disappeared into the Pacific Ocean mist alongside the 18th hole on the South course at Torrey Pines. "I'm sure that was a pretty tough way to lose a golf tournament. He's going to have a tough night," said Snedeker. "There is no way around it. But he can be better from it. The thing I hope he doesn't do is dwell on it. I hope he moves past it pretty quick."
Though difficult, Stanley tried to put a positive spin on the painful experience. Here's what he told reporters Sunday evening.
MODERATOR: We welcome Kyle Stanley to the interview room. Kyle, I know it was a difficult day. It's not the way you wanted to finish. But I know there were a lot of positives out there this week and today. Maybe just talk about those and we'll chat about the playoff really quick.
KYLE STANLEY: Yeah, I played well. I played really well all week. Obviously, not the finish I wanted. But I think I've got to focus on the good things I did.
MODERATOR: Talk about the playoff. Well, let's go back to 18 and the end of regulation and the wedge shot there at 18.
KYLE STANLEY: Yeah, we tried to lay it up close enough so that we wouldn't put that much spin on it. I think we had 70, 80 maybe to the pin. Thought I had a pretty good shot but just had too much spin.
Q. How do you deal with the emotions of this? How difficult is it?
KYLE STANLEY: I don't know right now. It's tough. I mean, it's really tough to take.
Q. You hit a couple of putts so fast. You didn't seem to take any time. The one on 18 and even the one on 16, is that normally how you do it, or do you wish you had maybe stepped back a couple times?
KYLE STANLEY: No, not really. I think sometimes I tend to take too much time. The one on 16 almost had the same putt in regulation. So I knew what it did. I just had a little too much pace.
Q. Did you think both of them were going in when you hit them? The one on 18 and the last one or not?
KYLE STANLEY: The one on 18 just broke left. The one on 16 in the playoff, I just hit it too hard.
Q. And did you think you'd have as much emotion as you did going into 18? Were you nervous at all? Could you tell going up that final hole?
KYLE STANLEY: No, I wasn't very nervous. Looking back, I don't really know what I was thinking. It's not a hard golf hole. It's really a pretty straightforward par 5. I could probably play it a thousand times and never make an 8.
Q. You made a lot of great saves out there. Up until 18 tee or even the second shot, were you proud of yourself for that? I mean, you really grinded out there. You missed some short ones, but you made some incredible putts. How did you feel about what you had accomplished up to that point?
KYLE STANLEY: I felt pretty good. I didn't hit it very well on the back. I made a nice par save on 14 to get up and down on 15, another really good putt on 16 for par. Those really kept me in it. Then I guess the birdie putt on 17, I thought I made. I think I had a five or six hole stretch there where I hit really good putts.
Q. On the putt on 18, the downhill putt, Huh had gone before you, made it. What were you thinking speed-wise, and where were you thinking leave-wise? Did you want to leave it below the hole? It's tough there because of the water.
KYLE STANLEY: I don't know about that. He gave me the perfect lie. We knew what the putt did, I just didn't hit it hard enough.
Q. Your third shot into 18 in regulation when the ball was in the air, did you think it was a pretty good shot and were you shocked that it rolled all the way back in?
KYLE STANLEY: Yeah. I think I landed it - I had to land it 15, 20 feet past it. I didn't think it was going to spin that much.
Q. What did you use?
KYLE STANLEY: Sand wedge.
Q. Can you talk about the gut check that you have to go through in the last 20 minutes, 30 minutes? And also, sort of ironic, the same day that this happens, your idol also did not hit the winner's circle. It shows it's just not easy, is it?
KYLE STANLEY: Yeah, I mean - I know I'll be back. I'm not worried about that. It's just tough to swallow right now. I just need to be patient. One of my goals coming into this year was to just keep putting myself in position, and I'll do that.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.