Snedeker Plays Himself into Contention

By Associated PressApril 11, 2008, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- All those years scratching around the munis in Nashville taught Brandt Snedeker a thing or two. With his ball sitting on a big ol knob at the back of the green'and the green jackets from Augusta National gasping in horror'he grabbed a lob wedge.
 
And chipped.
 
On that pristine putting surface.
 
I knew there was a couple members worried when I took out the lob wedge, Snedeker said, referring to what might be the shot of the day Friday at the Masters. But I figured it would be OK if I didnt take a divot, and I didnt. So the green is no worse for the wear.
 
His scorecards in pretty good shape, too. Saving himself a bogey'or worse ' Snedeker chipped in, making birdie on the par-3 No. 6 on his way to a 4-under 68 that put him a stroke behind clubhouse leader Trevor Immelman.
 
He was dead, playing partner Tom Watson marveled. The best hes going to make is four, maybe five, and he chips it in the hole for two. It shows some imagination and thats very impressive. Very impressive.
 
Making it more impressive is that this is only the second go-round at the Masters for the 27-year-old, who was the PGA TOUR's rookie of the year last year after winning in Greensboro and reaching the FedEx Cup finale. Snedeker played in the 2004 Masters after winning the U.S. Amateur Public Links champion.
 
Young players, no matter how talented they are, are supposed to need a few years to figure out Augusta National, get a feel for its quirks and tricky greens, and discover where they can take chances. Theres a reason only three first-timers have won, none since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.
 
Even Tiger Woods needed three tries to get his first green jacket in 1997' and he missed the cut the year before he won.
 
But Snedeker isnt exactly new to Augusta. In the months before the 2004 Masters, he played more rounds at Augusta National than most members.
 
Ive played here 40 or 50 times, easily, he said. Ive never really played that great. I dont know why'Im always just so enthralled with the place every time I come. Its so peaceful and Im more aiming to having fun when I come here than trying to shoot a low number.
 
But Ive hit it pretty much everywhere you dont want to hit it, he said. I know exactly where you dont want to hit it, so Im trying to avoid that this week. Did it a couple times today, but hopefully no more this weekend.
 
When he does find trouble, though, Snedeker has a knack for working his way out of it.
 
He began playing golf at West Plains Country Club in Missouri because his grandmother was the manager there (she gave him his first set of clubs). But most of his early experience came at municipal courses around Nashville. Now, as all weekend duffers know, munis are not exactly the Taj Mahals of golf. There are divots everywhere, combinations of sand and sod not found in any greenskeeping manual and more bumps and mounds than the English countryside. Creativity is not merely recommended, its a requirement.
 
As a kid, I kind of hit it everywhere and scraped it around, Snedeker said. So I always had fun getting up-and-down and making putts when you had to and chipping. Doing crazy stuff, you know, kind of just having fun out there on the golf course. People say imagination here, well, you really dont have a choice here.
 
Theres imagination, and then theres chipping on a green.
 
The No. 6 green is massive but, like pretty much every other green at Augusta National, there are places on it you definitely dont want to wind up. And on Friday, Snedeker did.
 
With the pin tucked in the upper left corner, his tee shot just had to land on the opposite side. Not only that, he was on top of a knob meaning no matter how lightly he putted, that ball was going to go sprinting to the bottom of the green.
 
This fringe here is so sticky, I couldnt putt it. I feel like if I putt it, I would be on the front edge of the green, Snedeker said. The only chance I had was chipping it and trying to spin it a little bit. Ten or 12 feet was going to be a great shot and it came off absolutely perfect, tracking the whole way.
 
You have to learn how to flip it just right. Its a yip is pretty much what it is, he added. I was more nervous over that shot than I was all day, because I knew if I messed it up, people were going to have a field day with me on that one. So I had to pull it off.
 
The sixth green is close to Nos. 15, 16 and 17, so theres always a big crowd there. But the person who might have made Snedeker the most nervous was right there on the green with him.
 
Watson was Snedekers idol growing up. He had Ram clubs, which Watson used to represent, and Watson wedges. Whenever Watson was on TV, Snedeker watched.
 
But hed never met him until this week. In addition to being paired together, the two played practice rounds and the Par 3 Contest.
 
It was great just getting to know him a little bit better, Snedeker said. Just getting to see the way he plays golf up close. I love the way he swings the golf club. I love the way hes always carried himself. It was a great couple days.
 
Snedeker isnt nearly the ball striker Watson was. Or still is.
 
But theres something about him that reminds Watson of himself in his younger days.
 
I was very impressed. He hit the ball a long way, he hit the ball solidly and he played some shots that he had to play, Watson said. Hes got a lot of tools. The imagination is what impresses me. He has wonderful imagination. And you have to have that here.
 
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  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''