The final round of the 2004 New Year’s Invitational was one for the ages. The round began with Vanderbilt sophomore Luke List in the lead at 8-under. Defending Champion J.B Holmes and Greg Koch were one shot back at 7-under with Brandt Snedeker at 5-under.
Holmes would bogey the first hole but then birdie holes two, six and seven to finish the front nine in 34 and be co-leader 9-under par for the tournament. List and Koch had fallen back to 6-under, but Brandt Snedeker made a charge with four birdies on the front at holes three, five, six and seven to tie for the lead.
Holmes would bogey the 10th giving the lead to Snedeker only to gain back the shot on the 11th with a birdie. Both would remain tied through the 15th hole. At that point the advantage seemed to belong to the long-hitting Holmes going into the final three holes particularly the very reachable par five sixteenth and eighteenth.
Holmes, however, would miss the 16th green on the right and failed to get up and in for birdie, while Snedeker would hole an eight foot putt for a birdie and the lead. Holmes countered with a 20-foot birdie putt on the par 3 seventeenth. Tied going to the final hole, Holmes’ 30-yard advantage off the tee appeared to give him the edge going to the 528 yard final hole. Although he did considerably outhit his principal opponent, Holmes missed the green on his second shot as had Snedeker. Good pitches left Holmes with a eight foot putt for birdie with Snedeker a couple of feet closer. Holmes’ putt just slid by and Snedeker holed for birdie and the Championship.
The format in 2004 was to play the white tees the first two days, then flight the field after two rounds and have the championship flight play from the blue tees. Brandt was even at 144 after two rounds in a tie for 21st place nine shots behind leader Luke List. His 67 on Saturday got him back in the tournament. That round was played on one of those bone chilling days that the NYI has encountered from time to time. Brandt made up six shots of his deficit, gaining a tie for fourth place and a spot in the final pairing.
This was Brandt Snedeker’s fifth Invitational appearance. He had won the USGA Public Links Championship 2003 and with it an invitation to the 2004 Masters, so long as he remained an amateur, which proved to be fortunate for us. Brandt first played here as a Vanderbilt freshman in 2000, our tournament having been recommended by his older brother Haymes who had played in 1998 and 1999. Haymes has gone on to a career as a lawyer but showed that he still had considerable skills in winning the Golf Channel’s Big Break in 2009.
Brandt had been tied for the third round lead in 2002, eventually finishing second to John Corzilius. Brandt led each of the first three rounds in 2003 but was overhauled by J.B. Holmes’ final round 66 and again wound up in second place. 2004 proved to be the charm and Brandt’s finishing 67-66-133 is the finest final thirty-six holes in the tournament’s history. Brandt has gone on to a successful career on the PGA Tour. Brandt is a special player and person who always takes the time to say hi when we see him at PGA tournaments. We’re proud to have him as one of our past champions.