Written down on a piece of paper, it looks more like a 'Countdown' conundrum than a potential major champion but, as the Open Championship puzzle began to unravel yesterday, it was the 31-year-old who had spelled out his title intentions at Royal Lytham.
A superbly compiled six-under 64 gave him a one-shot advantage over first round pacesetter Adam Scott with a 10-under aggregate of 130, a tally that equalled the lowest halfway total in the championship set by Nick Faldo at Muirfield in 1992. With Tiger Woods lurking dangerously in third, after holing his bunker shot for a birdie on the 18th, and Paul Lawrie still in the mix in a tie for fifth, things are heating up nicely.
An overnight deluge had softened further the already saturated links, and led to the added menace of standing water in a number of the bunkers. That caused a dilemma for numerous players as they had to decide whether to take a drop at the nearest point of relief in the sand and risk plugging the ball or just thrash away from the puddles. With hardly any wind to speak of, this could have been a day for moving forwards but many went backwards. As others in the field found toil and trouble Snedeker made hay with a six-birdie round that hoisted him to the summit. It started with a putt of some 20-feet for birdie on the first and really got going when he holed a 45-footer on the sixth to spark a run of five birdies in seven holes which thrust him up the order.
The question at the end of it all was simple. Where did this performance come from? "I'm sure everybody in this room is in as much shock as I am," said the Nashville man in his post-round blether. There is little in his record to suggest that the three-time PGA Tour would thrive in the links arena. His first taste of this type of golf ended in a missed cut in the qualifying rounds of the Amateur Championship at Prestwick back in 2001 while his three Open appearances in 2008, 2009 and 2011, all petered out after two rounds. With a scoring average of 74.16 for those previous six rounds in the world's oldest major, and a cumulative 25-over, the figures have not been adding up to success but they have done so far this week.
Admittedly, the conditions here have been far from what we expect of a traditional links test – "the Americanisation of the course with the softness has helped me, it would be stupid to say it hasn't," he observed – but this has still been a mightily impressive display of control. The fact that he has not spilled a shot so far and has yet to find any of Lytham's 206 bunkers tells its own story.
Having played a practice round with his boyhood hero Tom Watson ahead of his debut in the championship in 2008, the wisdom gleaned from the five-time Claret Jug winner has left a lasting impression on him. Snedeker must have been delighted when old Tom, 62-year-old, rolled in a raking birdie putt on the 18th to finish with a flourish and survive the cut on the three-over limit.
"He told me the first time he played over here, he wasn't a fan of links golf," said Snedeker, who missed this year's US Open as he recovered from a cracked rib caused by a coughing fit. "The second time he played, he loved it. Tom was such a great champion. Watching him play and the way he handled himself was phenomenal. Talking to him about it, he really does embrace this lifestyle. He loves coming over here and being around the people. So if it has worked for him then I might try and emulate him and do that too."
He's certainly tried to fit in with the locals here. "The local beers are very good," he said after a couple of visits to a pub in St Annes earlier in the week. Snedeker will be hoping he is toasting a Claret Jug success come Sunday as he looks to make up for the disappointment he suffered in the 2008 Masters at Augusta. A closing 77 then caused him to drop back into third place and the anguish came pouring out in a tearful press conference. "I'm just that kind of person," he added. "I don't mind telling people how I feel and showing my emotions. If I'm upset or mad you're going to know about it."
Scott, also searching for an elusive first major crown, remains in a good position after a tidy 67 but with Woods just three shots behind him and Thorbjorn Olesen, also in the hunt in fourth after a 66 and major winners like Lawrie, Graeme McDowell and Ernie Els sitting in the top-10, the Australian is wary ahead of the weekend. "It's a world-class leaderboard stacked up a few shots back and I think no matter what the conditions are one of those guys is going to have a good day and make up ground," he said.
Hovering on the fringes of the leading 10 is Luke Donald, the world No.1, who delivered a decent 68 with a replacement caddie, when his regular bagman, John McLaren, got the call to say that his expectant wife had gone into labour. "I won't pay him for today, obviously, but, you know, he should be around for the birth," joked Donald, who teamed up with substitute Gareth Lord and moved into a tie for 11th on a two-under 138.
Heading in the other direction, however, was Rory McIlroy. The world No.2, four off the pace after round one, racked up a crippling 75 that saw him slither down to a two-over total. The bunkers were the former US Open champion's downfall. He double-bogeyed the ninth after taking two to extricate himself and then leaked three more sandy shots coming home as his challenge crumbled. Throwing the strokes away, McIlory showed his charitable side in another way when he revealed that the teenage spectator he had clattered with a tee-shot on Thursday had been given "some cash" and was put up in a hotel for the night as a means of an apology. Sorry doesn't come cheap.