By Mark Lamport-Stokes
SAN DIEGO, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Defending champion Brandt Snedeker had to endure a marathon day of putting practice and waiting around at the Farmers Insurance Open on Saturday before play was finally abandoned because of thick fog.
The fast-talking American, who trails tournament leader Tiger Woods by seven shots, arrived at the course at 5:30 a.m. local (1330 GMT) for a scheduled tee time at 7:40 a.m., and left at around 4 p.m. without hitting a single competitive stroke after only five minutes of third-round action was possible.
Weather permitting, play will resume on Sunday at the picturesque Torrey Pines venue where the $6.1 million PGA Tour event is heading for a rare Monday finish.
"It's frustrating," Snedeker told Reuters after spending a couple of hours chatting with his fellow players, caddies and officials on the practice putting green. "Everyone's wants to play.
"I feel like on this golf course it would have been a lot of fun today. There's a great leaderboard lined up and a lot of action could have happened today. It's really frustrating when it doesn't happen.
"It has turned into a long day. I've been here since early this morning so you're a little tired and you want to get out there and play as much as you can."
Asked how he had managed to while away the time as a blanket of thick fog lingered at the coastal venue, Snedeker replied with a broad grin: "You tell a lot of stories. I've been catching up with some guys I haven't seen in a while.
"You eat four or five times and you try to pass the time as best as possible. You don't want to think too much about the golf course. You want to keep your mind fresh."
Snedeker is happy, though, that a Monday finish is on the cards as he needs to haul himself back into the tournament after following his superb opening round of seven-under-par 65 with a four-bogey 75.
"As long as we get 72 holes in, that's what I would like to have happen because I am so far back," said the 32-year-old.
"I need some help. I need to play as much golf as possible. It's kind of weird for us to be in a situation where there's no really bad weather, just a little bit of fog.
"For us not to be playing, it's tough, but we will rebound tomorrow and try to put on a good show."
Snedeker, who won last year's title in a playoff with compatriot Kyle Stanley, is regarded as one of the best putters in the game but he surprisingly battled on the greens during a rain-sodden second round.
"It was a struggle for me yesterday," FedExCup champion Snedeker said of a round on the challenging South course that included a total of 32 putts. "These greens are pretty hard if you aren't putting the way you want to.
"I rolled it really good the first day, then kind of struggled yesterday which was unfortunate.
"But I put a lot of work into it last night and this morning and feel like I kind of solved the problem. Hopefully and I can make a bunch of them (putts) these next two rounds." (Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Gene Cherry)