Good weather, great putting give Snedeker Open lead

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2012, 5:22 pm

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England – Make no mistake, this slice of links land has the proper pedigree – ubiquitous pot bunkers, a sniff of sea salt off the Irish Sea and a “royal” in the title to round out the ensemble.

How is it then that for two relatively benign, if not soggy, days all Brandt Snedeker can see is TPC Lytham, a lush point-A-to-point-B track where balls spin back and greens run true and fast, at least by Open Championship standards?

The short-form answer is the English summer, a steady march of showers that have pelted the ancient links for days and transformed many of Lytham’s 205 bunkers into wading pools.

Standard springy turf has been replaced by standing water, the bump and run preempted by smash and split, and a lead for Snedeker that two days ago felt unlikely.

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Like 150-to-1 unlikely. Those were the odds placed on the American to begin the week, which may have been a tad low given his pedestrian performance on the game’s original pitches.

In 2001 while still in college, Snedeker failed to advance to the match-play portion of the British Amateur at Prestwick, the quirkiest of links that hosted the first Open in 1869, and he was 0-for-3 in cuts made at the Open.

When one English reporter delicately asked Snedeker to describe himself for United Kingdom fans who may have never heard of him, the Tennessee native shot back, “I’m sure there’s lots of Americans saying (who is this guy?).”

If the weather and Snedeker’s putter holds, that anonymity may be nearing an end.

When Snedeker holed his 10-footer for par at the last just as the first-round leaders were heading out, he stood at 10 under and five strokes clear of the field following a 64 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. Adam Scott cut that lead to one stroke before the end of the day, but that did little to dull Snedeker’s stellar start.

Thursday’s 66 was Snedeker’s first sub-70 round in seven attempts at the game’s oldest championship and his 10-under total of 130 matched the 36-hole record set by Nick Faldo in 1992.

“Boring golf,” he figured. “I put it 25 feet away and tried to make some putts.”

Or in short, very much un-Snedeker-like golf, which brings us to the par-4 16th hole, which Snedeker double-eagled during Wednesday’s practice round. From the middle of the fairway on Friday, Snedeker’s wedge dropped into the middle of the green, checked quickly and left him with a 30-footer for birdie. Perfect.

Standing just a few yards away, Snedeker’s Sea Island (Ga.) based swing coach smiled widely.

“When he’s putting this good he’s usually firing at every pin,” Todd Anderson said. “It’s good to see him this patient. That’s what wins majors.”

His subdued play has been part of a plan that materialized late Wednesday afternoon in England when Snedeker met with Anderson, his caddie Scott Vail and an English statistician, who suggested that considering Snedeker’s prowess with the putter it may be worth firing away from Lytham’s pins.

“He figured it would give Sneds two more birdie looks a round,” Anderson said.

As plans go, this one has stayed to script with Snedeker playing his first two rounds bogey free, hitting 15 of 18 greens in regulation on Day 2 despite a sometimes wayward driver (9 of 14 fairways). But the key stats have been on the greens – with Snedeker needing just 28 putts and not recording a single three-putt in 36 holes – and in the sand. For two rounds he has not hit into one of Lytham’s 205 bunkers.

“I don’t expect that stat to hold through the weekend,” he said. “I fully expect to hit it in a few bunkers before the week is over.”

At his first Open in 2008 at Royal Birkdale, Snedeker played a practice round with five-time champion Tom Watson . At the time the round had a Links Golf 101 feel and the lessons from that day resonated with Snedeker.

“It helped a bunch playing with him,” Snedeker said. “He told me the first time over here he wasn’t a big fan of links golf. The second time he played he loved it. You’ve got to embrace it, realize that you’re going to get good bounces, bad bounces, but you expect the worst and hope for the best.”

For three previous championships, Snedeker’s affection for links golf has been vastly unrequited. That he would find liquid Lytham to his liking, however, is not entirely unexpected.

Heavy rain has softened the course and provided lush greens that are closer to PGA Tour standards then the Open, a transformation one observer called the Americanization of Lytham. But when pressed on the concept, Snedeker’s answer was distinctly British.

“You can call it the Americanization of this golf course, the softness that’s played a factor for sure. I’ve never seen balls spin at a British Open,” Snedeker said. “But I wouldn’t expect that to hold true for the whole weekend. I’m sure it’s probably going to show some teeth this weekend.”

Spoken like a man who is fully prepared to trade his signature visor for a tam-o-shanter and his relative obscurity for a claret jug. Old Tom would be proud.

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.

Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia

By Associated PressDecember 14, 2017, 3:06 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.

Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.