Tears Turn to Smiles for Snedeker

By Associated PressApril 16, 2008, 4:00 pm
2007 Verizon HeritageHILTON HEAD, S.C. -- See what one good cry can do?
Since Brandt Snedeker let his emotions flow after losing his chance at the Masters last week, hes gained a full-blown following of well-wishers all with the same, simple message: Dry your eyes and hold your head up.
Snedeker was in contention Sunday at Augusta National, yet saw that slip away with a 5-over 77 that left him third behind champion Trevor Immelman and Tiger Woods.
After he walked off the course, Snedeker felt overcome by a week of drama and emotion. He couldnt stop the tears'an image that touched the hearts of most who watched.
Snedeker has gotten countless calls and messages of support from strangers and friends, including country music star Vince Gill, who counseled, Its OK. Life goes on.
With me crying on national television, I guess people realize how much I care, Snedeker said with his usual smile Wednesday.
Snedeker said several people came by at dinner Monday night, offering support. The galleries at Harbour Town also have boosted Snedekers morale.
Its been pretty phenomenal to see the number of people whove come out to put their arm around me and say, Its OK. Its going to be fine, Snedeker said.
The backings helped Snedeker regain focus for the $5.5 million Verizon Heritage, which starts Thursday.
I cannot thank them enough because it really makes me feel great about what I did there and kind of helps me heal, Snedeker said.
Plenty of healing took place in Wednesdays pro-am. Fans cheered Snedekers shots and offered their best wishes as he walked by.
Youre a champion. You gave us a thrill, said one gentleman who wore a sweatshirt from Snedekers alma mater, Vanderbilt.
Thank you very much, Snedeker replied.
Sometimes, Snedekers had to remind himself things arent so bad. After all, he earned $435,000 and moved over $1 million in money earned this season.
Im sitting there smiling, saying, I just finished third in the Masters. Nobody died. Were fine, Snedeker said.
The last three Verizon Heritage tournaments have produced first-time PGA TOUR winners: Peter Lonard in 2005, Aaron Baddeley in 2006 and Boo Weekley a year ago. Weekleys victory was particularly memorable, chipping in on the 71st and 72nd holes to beat Ernie Els by a shot.
It was Els seventh top-10 finish in nine appearances here. Els, ranked No. 3 in world, is among three golfers ranked in the top 10 playing Harbour Town the week after the Masters. No. 7 Justin Rose and No. 9 Jim Furyk are the others.
Also in the field is the 2007 Masters champ, Zach Johnson, who hadnt seen Snedekers emotional post-tournament interview but understood the feelings.
Its an emotional roller coaster there, Johnson said. Its one of those things where I think you put a lot effort into it, you put a lot of time into it, theres a lot of fatigue and it leads to Snedekers tears.
Snedeker remembered watching Len Mattiace break down in tears after losing the 2003 Masters to Mike Weir in a playoff, and wondered why a grown man would cry about losing a golf tournament.
Then Snedekers opportunity faded and, I realize why he wanted to cry, was crying like a girl whose prom date didnt show up, he said. Thats what I felt like.
Gill joked to Snedeker it was probably a bad sign for Nashvilles country music crowd to pay attention.
We write these kind of stories all the time, Gill told Snedeker, whos from Nashville. Were seeing one unfold and we still feel bad.
Snedeker thinks the waterworks are under control.
Still, Snedeker wasnt sure how hed react to more Masters questions this week and warned organizers, Make sure theres a big box of Kleenex right here in front of my microphone just to make sure.
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    Frittelli fulfilled promise by making Match Play field

    By Rex HoggardMarch 19, 2018, 8:40 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – Dylan Frittelli attended the University of Texas and still maintains a residence in Austin, so in an odd way this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play is a home game for the South African who plays the European Tour.

    Frittelli actually attended the event last year as a spectator, when he watched the quarterfinal matches on Saturday afternoon, and made a promise to himself.

    “I told a lot of people, I was running into them. I said, ‘I'll be here next year, I'll be playing in this tournament,’” said Frittelli, who climbed to 45th in the world ranking after two victories last year in Europe. “People looked at me, you're 190 in the world, that's hard to get to 64. It was a goal I set myself.”

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    Frittelli’s next goal may be a little payback for a loss he suffered in college when he was a teammate of Jordan Spieth’s. Frittelli is making his first start at the Match Play and could face his old Longhorn stable mate this week depending on how the brackets work out and his play.

    “We had the UT inter-team championship. Coach switched it to match play my senior year, and Jordan beat me in the final at UT Golf Club. It was 3 and 2,” Frittelli said. “So I'm not too keen to face him again.

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    Match Play security tightens after Austin bombings

    By Rex HoggardMarch 19, 2018, 8:06 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – A fourth bombing this month in Austin injured two men Sunday night and authorities believe the attacks are the work of a serial bomber.

    The bombings have led to what appears to be stepped-up security at this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club.

    “I was out here [Sunday]; typically that's the most relaxed day. But they had security officials on every corner of the clubhouse and on the exterior, as well,” said Dylan Frittelli, who lives in Austin and is playing the Match Play for the first time this week. “It was pretty tough to get through all the protocols. I'm sure they'll have stuff in place.”

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    The PGA Tour told The Associated Press on Monday that it doesn't comment on the specifics of its security measures, but that the safety of players and fans is its top priority. The circuit is also coordinating closely with law enforcement to ensure the safety of players and fans.

    Despite the bombings, which have killed two people and injured two others, the Tour has not yet reached out to players to warn of any potential threat or advise the field about increased security.

    “It’s strange,” Paul Casey said. “Maybe they are going to, but they haven’t.”

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    Rosaforte Report: Faxon helps 'free' McIlroy's mind and stroke

    By Tim RosaforteMarch 19, 2018, 8:00 pm

    With all the talk about rolling back the golf ball, it was the way Rory McIlroy rolled it at the Arnold Palmer Invitational that was the story of the week and the power surge he needed going into the Masters.

    Just nine days earlier, a despondent McIlroy missed the cut at the Valspar Championship, averaging 29 putts per round in his 36 holes at Innisbrook Resort. At Bay Hill, McIlroy needed only 100 putts to win for the first time in the United States since the 2016 Tour Championship.

    The difference maker was a conversation McIlroy had with putting savant Brad Faxon at The Bears Club in Jupiter, Fl., on Monday of API week. What started with a “chat,” as McIlroy described it, ended with a resurrection of Rory’s putting stroke and set him free again, with a triumphant smile on his face, headed to this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, and Augusta National in two weeks.

    The meeting with Faxon made for a semi-awkward moment for McIlroy, considering he had been working with highly-regarded putting coach Phil Kenyon since missing the cut in the 2016 PGA Championship. From “pathetic” at Baltusrol, McIlroy became maker of all, upon the Kenyon union, and winner of the BMW Championship, Tour Championship and FedExCup.

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    As a professional courtesy, Faxon laid low, respecting McIlroy’s relationship with Kenyon, who also works with European stars Justin Rose, Martin Kaymer, Tommy Fleetwood and Henrik Stenson. Knowing how McIlroy didn’t like the way Dave Stockton took credit after helping him win multiple majors, Faxon let McIlroy do the talking. Asked about their encounter during his Saturday news conference at Bay Hill, McIlroy called it “more of a psychology lesson than anything else.”

    “There was nothing I told him he had never heard before, nothing I told him that was a secret,” Faxon, who once went 327 consecutive holes on Tour without a three-putt, said on Monday. “I think (Rory) said it perfectly when he said it allowed him to be an athlete again. We try to break it down so well, it locks us up. If I was able to unlock what was stuck, he took it to the next level. The thing I learned, there can be no method of belief more important than the athlete’s true instinct.”

    Without going into too much detail, McIlroy explained that Faxon made him a little more “instinctive and reactive.” In other words, less “mechanical and technical.” It was the same takeaway that Gary Woodland had after picking Faxon’s brain before his win in this year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.

    Sunday night, after leading the field in strokes gained-putting, McIlroy was more elaborative, explaining how Faxon “freed up my head more than my stroke,” confessing that he was complicating things a bit and was getting less athletic.

    “You look at so many guys out there, so many different ways to get the ball in the hole,” he said. “The objective is to get the ball in the hole and that’s it. I think I lost sight of that a little bit.”

    All of this occurred after a conversation I had Sunday morning with swing instructor Pete Cowen, who praised Kenyon for the work he had done with his player, Henrik Stenson. Cowen attributed Henrik’s third-round lead at Bay Hill to the diligent work he put in with Kenyon over the last two months.

    “It’s confidence,” Cowen said. “(Stenson) needs a good result for confidence and then he’s off. If he putts well, he has a chance of winning every time he plays.”

    Cowen made the point that on the PGA Tour, a player needs 100-110 putts per week – or an average of 25-27 putts per round – to have a chance of winning. Those include what Cowen calls the “momentum putts,” that are especially vital in breaking hearts at this week’s WGC-Dell Match Play.

    Stenson, who is not playing this week in Austin, Texas, saw a lot of positives but admitted there wasn’t much he could do against McIlroy shooting 64 on Sunday in the final round on a tricky golf course.

    “It's starting to come along in the right direction for sure,” Stenson said. “I hit a lot of good shots out there this week, even though maybe the confidence is not as high as some of the shots were, so we'll keep on working on that and it's a good time of the year to start playing well.”

    Nobody knows that better than McIlroy, who is hoping to stay hot going for his third WGC and, eventually, the career Grand Slam at Augusta.

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    Golf's Olympic format, qualifying process remain the same

    By Rex HoggardMarch 19, 2018, 6:25 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – Potential Olympic golfers for the 2020 Games in Tokyo were informed on Monday that the qualification process for both the men’s and women’s competitions will remain unchanged.

    According to a memo sent to PGA Tour players, the qualification process begins on July 1, 2018, and will end on June 22, 2020, for the men, with the top 59 players from the Olympic Golf Rankings, which is drawn from the Official World Golf Ranking, earning a spot in Tokyo (the host country is assured a spot in the 60-player field). The women’s qualification process begins on July 8, 2018, and ends on June 29, 2020.

    The format, 72-holes of individual stroke play, for the ’20 Games will also remain unchanged.

    The ’20 Olympics will be held July 24 through Aug. 9, and the men’s competition will be played the week before the women’s event at Kasumigaseki Country Club.