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Sneaky Season in Store for Snedeker–If He Can Stay Healthy

Sneaky Season in Store for Snedeker–If He Can Stay Healthy

Jan. 10, 2014

snedekerpebbleBrandt Snedeker is ready to take the next step.

He just needs to make sure it’s not from a Segway.

In an incident that sums up a tantalizing, yet tortured career, the 33-year-old Snedeker bruised his left tibia and sprained his ACL dismounting a Segway during a corporate event in China at the end of 2013.

Snedeker declared himself “100%” at Media Day ahead of next month’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am – but that prognostication seems as reliable as a 10-day forecast.

Snedeker is half-world-beater, half snake-bitten.

“I guess injuries are a part of the story of my career now,” Snedeker said. “I feel like I’ve played some great golf over the past two years, and the best is yet to come. My main goal is to have an injury-free year.”

When Snedeker won last year’s AT&T, he rose to No. 4 in the world rankings, backing up consecutive runner-up finishes with a final-round 65 at Pebble Beach to beat Chris Kirk by two.

“When I’m hot, I play well for an extended period of time,” Snedeker said. “I’m not just going to take weeks off just to do it. If I’m playing well, I’m going to keep going and ride my hot streak as if I’m in Vegas for as long as it goes.”

Dating back to his last nine PGA Tour events, Snedeker finished sixth or better in seven of them.

“I felt like I was playing the best golf of my career,” Snedeker said. “I felt like I had figured something out and was on the right path.”

But a week earlier, Snedeker’s ribs felt sore. With two days to go at the AT&T, he knew something was wrong. He gutted out a 68-65 weekend finish before taking the next six weeks off to let his bruised ribs heal.

“I knew the last couple days of the AT&T that this was going to be my last tournament for a while,” Snedeker said. “It was unfortunate. Taking six weeks off, you feel like you’re starting all over again.”

Snedeker is still chasing his first major, but his wizardry on the greens make him a natural favorite to pick one off soon. Despite the momentum-halting injury, Snedeker was tied for the lead at last year’s Masters after three rounds before a closing 75 dropped him to sixth.

Snedeker finished fourth in the putting metric strokes gained last year, and first in 2012.

“I’m always trying to keep my putting inside what I call my winning parameters – how I can putt my best,” said Snedeker, who also won the Canadian Open and is currently ranked No. 14 in the world. “I take a lot of pride in my putting. It’s what’s gotten me to where I am, and what will get me to where I want to go.

“I work on it constantly. I work on it harder than I work on my long game.”

Snedeker even feels comfortable on the whimsical poa annua greens native to the Monterey Peninsula.

“They are very difficult to putt,” Snedeker said. “They’re poa annua, they’ve got a lot of undulation. You’ve got to know what you’re doing. I love the surfaces.”

It’s easy to like Snedeker’s chances on any green. The key is making sure he’s out there putting on them.

The Bing Crosby Spirit Lives On

Snedeker professed his fondness for the AT&T, a tournament that requires pros to entertain and/or tolerate amateurs while simultaneously playing for their livelihood.

“The format is something I really enjoy,” Snedeker said. “I love playing with amateurs. They loosen me up.”

In a way, Snedeker is the perfect champion for the AT&T – a player who appreciates the fans and amateur golfers.

Snedeker does his best to engage with fans because of an experience he had at an event when he was younger.

“I went to a tournament when I was a kid and I had a chance to get an autograph,” Snedeker recalled. “I didn’t get it. The one person I wanted just walked by. I was one of three kids waiting for him. It really soured me on that particular player. I didn’t want to be that player.

“The two seconds I have to interact with a fan is how they are going to remember me the rest of my career. If I can take an extra two seconds to sign an autograph, that’s what I’m going to do. I try to make those interactions as genuine as possible. I have some great role models in Arnold Palmer and Phil Mickelson. They treat people the right way. It makes you want to do your part as well.”

And as one of the Tour’s fastest players, Snedeker should be even more of a fan favorite.

So how does Snedeker handle the glacial pace of play on the PGA Tour?

“I definitely have a lot more fun when someone plays fast, but that’s not the reality of the Tour anymore,” Snedeker said. “When I get with a slow player, my caddie and I have a lot of interesting conversations. It seems like we talk about everything under the sun.”

Last-Second Recruiting Effort

As Snedeker attended Media Day, rumors were swirling that his alma mater Vanderbilt was about to lose football coach James Franklin to Penn State.

So Snedeker took to Twitter to make his plea.

But it wasn’t looking good.

“I guess that doesn’t speak much to my teaching abilities,” conceded Snedeker, who still upped the ante in the afternoon:

Snedeker also took to Twitter after previewing the new Pebble Beach driving range, which officially opens at the end of the month:

-Kevin Merfeld

Author: Kevin Merfeld

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