Snedeker looks to pick up where he left off at Bay Hill

By Jason SobelMarch 19, 2013, 8:08 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – With sandy blonde hair whipping from beneath his visor and a boyish smile that recalls a modern day Opie Taylor, Brandt Snedeker hardly looks like a world-beating professional athlete. That’s exactly what he is, though – or at least was, until a strained intercostal rib muscle forced him to miss the last five weeks of action.

When last we saw Snedeker, he was triumphing at Pebble Beach, his victory coming on the heels of a pair of runner-up finishes. Those results easily vaulted him into the unofficial position of World’s Hottest Golfer, a title he’s since relinquished to two-time champion Tiger Woods.

In sports, that’s referred to as getting Wally Pipp’d, after the long-ago New York Yankees first baseman who sat due to injury only to never return when Lou Gehrig stole his job. If you’d like a more current analogy, try former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith, who was replaced by Colin Kaepernick and barely saw the field again during the team’s Super Bowl run.

Unlike Pipp or Smith, of course, Snedeker isn’t reliant on a coach’s decision to get back in the game. So he’ll take to the course at the Arnold Palmer Invitational this week in hopes of winning back the honor from the guy who is also defending champion.

Just don’t expect him to make it a priority.

“I could care less about getting it back,” Snedeker said of the unofficial title. “I just want to get in position to have a good weekend again. I am not playing anywhere near as well as Tiger Woods is right now. So we can answer that question and get that out of the way. He's playing unbelievable golf.”

That doesn’t mean he isn’t interested in pulling off an unprecedented Reverse Pipp here at Bay Hill.

“I'd love to see him on Sunday afternoon and see how I stack up against him,” Snedeker continued. “He's playing unbelievable. He's sharp right now. I've got to develop that again. Hopefully, I might be able to do it in the next couple days. I feel like my long game is where I want it to be, it's just a matter of getting my short game and mental acuity back to where I can save shots and think around the golf course the right way. That comes with repetition; you can't conjure it up. So we'll see how it goes this week.”

On Tuesday, Snedeker admitted the rib injury was bothersome during the final round at Pebble Beach, but he was able to fight through it during the day. It was his second such affliction in as many years, to go along with two hip surgeries in 2011 and a broken collarbone five years earlier.

He’s now been issued a clean bill of health, which, in a way, makes him even more nervous.

“The good news is I'm completely healthy. The bad news is I'm completely healthy,” he deadpanned. “I don't know why it keeps happening. I was kind of hoping that something would creep up that would lead me to see why this keeps happening and nothing kind of came up. So just kind of have to chalk it up to bad luck, I guess, and get back healthy.”

That’s an easy checklist: 1. Get healthy; 2. Get back to the level at which he was previously playing.

Snedeker certainly sounds optimistic about ticking off all the boxes in the near future.

“I have very high expectations,” he said. “I think that I'm very confident in what I'm doing. I'm fresh. I'm probably the freshest guy on the PGA Tour right now because I haven't played in five weeks, and I'm probably one of the few guys that is really excited about the next stretch of golf. So I feel great about it.”

“If he comes out and does great, yeah, that’s what he’s supposed to do. If he doesn’t, he’s got rust,” explained his instructor, Todd Anderson. “So I think it’s a win-win either way. If he comes out and hits the ground running, it’s like he never missed a beat and if he doesn’t play well, he’s been out for five weeks and he’s trying to get back into it.”

Known universally as one of the world’s best putters – if not the best – Snedeker maintains that it will take longer for his flatstick to return to form than anything else.

In fact, Anderson insists that his swing is just as grooved as it was during his title run at Pebble Beach.

“As far as mechanically and the way he’s hitting the ball, I think he’s hitting it equally as well,” he said. “It’s just a question now of making that transition from practice to competition. I think it’ll take a little while to get the competitive juices back, kind of like at the beginning of the year, but he’s hitting the ball good.”

If it all comes together this week, Snedeker could regain that unofficial title of World’s Hottest Golfer. If it doesn’t, that’s alright, too. Like he said, he’s less interested in unofficial titles than another official one.

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."