Inside the Ropes Brandt Snedeker
By TOM LaMARRE The Sports Xchange
Brandt Snedeker has had his chances in the majors, most notably at the Masters in 2008 and again earlier this year, before melting down under the pressure on Sunday. Players talk about going through a process before they finally break through to win one of the Grand Slam events, and Sneds has had enough of it. “I hope the process is over,” said Snedeker, still smarting from shooting 80 to miss the cut last week in the Memorial before he tees it up Thursday in the FedEx St. Jude Classic, then heading to Merion for the U.S. Open. “I’m ready. I feel like my game’s ready. “The biggest hurdle, I think, with winning a major championship is being mentally prepared to handle the stress that you are going to have to handle the last two rounds. I feel like between (winning) the Tour Championship last year and Pebble Beach this year, I feel like I can handle just about any situation I put myself into.”
In 2008, Snedeker was two strokes behind leader and eventual winner Trevor Immelman entering the final round at Augusta National, but closed with a 5-over-par 77 and wound up in tears and in a tie for third. This year in the first major of the season, he was tied for the lead with Angel Cabrera of Argentina after 54 holes, but posted a 75 on Sunday and skidded to a tie for sixth, as Adam Scott became the first Aussie to claim the Green Jacket. “I think the hardest way to win a golf tournament is to have a lead, sleep on a lead and play and win,” said Snedeker, who also held the lead after two rounds in the Open Championship last year at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, tying the tournament record at 66-64 — 130, but shot 73-74 on the weekend and wound up in a tie for third. “It’s a lot easier to win golf tournaments from behind because you know what you have to do. When you are in the lead, you don’t know what you have to do.” Snedeker has been there on several occasions now, also finishing in the top 10 in the U.S. Open in 2008 at Torrey Pines and in 2010 at Pebble Beach, in addition to a tie for 11th two years ago at Congressional. He believes he can solve the last piece of the puzzle.
“I know I was pretty depressed and pretty down afterward because I really felt like I was going to win,” he said of his feelings when it was over at the Masters this year. “I felt like I was playing great and doing everything the right way, and that’s the way you always are after you lose. “But getting back and looking back on things, I accomplished a lot of my goals that week. I got in the last group, which if you look at the tradition in the history of the Masters, it’s a pretty good place to be. Your odds of winning increase dramatically if you’re there. “So that’s a great positive I took out of it. I played really well for 54 holes, and if I putt the way I normally do on Sunday, I think I have a really good chance of winning that golf tournament. So I took a lot of really good stuff out of that. “That Snedeker has been able to accomplish what he has in the last six years, claiming five victories on the PGA Tour and capturing the 2012 FedEx Cup, is pretty remarkable considering the time he has missed because of a series of injuries. Two years in a row, in 2010 and 2011, his season was cut short by surgeries, one on each hip to correct a degenerative problem. However, even more disturbing has been a series of broken ribs, the fourth in six years knocking him out of several tournaments, including the U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco last year. Snedeker came back strong in the second half of the season to claim the FedEx Cup and picked up right where he left off when he started this year with four top-three finishes in his first five events, including the victory at Pebble Beach. Then, the injury bug hit again, with a strained intercostal muscle in his ribcage area, but this time he got some answers.
Snedeker, who rose to No. 3 in the World Golf Rankings with his early-season surge and now is at No. 5, was diagnosed with a rare condition known as low bone turnover, which makes his bones more brittle than normal, particularly his ribs. “I had everything tested and they found this one anomaly in my DNA,” Snedeker told Golf magazine. “What it boils down to is that my ribs are just really brittle compared to the rest of my bones. “So I’m on this medication that is supposed to strengthen your bones and keep this stuff from happening. “That problem solved, he must find the answer in the final round of a major”