Thoughts of critically injured friend steady Snedeker

By Rex HoggardSeptember 24, 2012, 12:28 am

ATLANTA – They say money talks, but on a picture-perfect day at East Lake it wasn’t the $10 million FedEx Cup fortune, or Tour Championship title or even vindication for a Ryder Cup pick some questioned that steadied Brandt Snedeker.

For a player who admittedly wears his emotions for the world to judge it was just four letters that calmed him when the winds swirled and a world-class field closed in around him – T-U-C-K.

Photos: Tour Championship

McIlroy, Woods also earn big playoff paydays

Snedeker’s caddie Scott Vail had the letters written across his bucket hat, a tribute for Tucker Anderson, the son of Snedeker’s swing coach Todd Anderson, who was involved in a near-fatal car crash on Sept. 7 in Pensacola, Fla.

On Sunday morning before he set out for the most important loop of his professional life Snedeker drove the 12 miles from East Lake to the Shepard Center, where Tucker has been in a responsive coma and recovering since Tuesday. There was a fist bump, a wink, tears and more perspective than all the game’s sports psychologists could ever hope to dole out.

“I think it took Brandt’s mind off the golf to be honest with you,” Vail said. “I was glad he went. I definitely think it took his mind off the golf. It just puts things into perspective.”

With his head down and with one of his best driving performances of the year (seven of 14 fairways) Snedeker pulled clear of Justin Rose with a 9-footer for birdie at No. 3 and never looked up, or at a leaderboard, on his way to the ultimate double – the Tour Championship title and FedEx Cup neatly wrapped up with a closing 68.

A player who at times has made the game look difficult was turned Teflon by the clarity of perspective and a putter that, at least to U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III, made him a no-brainer pick.

Thanks to a hot putter, Snedeker made the turn two strokes clear despite a rinsed tee shot at the sixth that led to a double bogey. What else? He one-putted eight of his first 10 holes but it was a chip-in birdie at the 17th that secured his status as the newest member of the $10 million club.

His birdie on the penultimate hole lifted him four clear of Rose and not even the demons of missed opportunities past or the wrenching emotion of his visit earlier in the day could spoil that victory lap.

“It was tough to leave (Tucker) this morning. To know him as well as I do and to see him like that was hard. I cried when I left,” Snedeker said. “That’s a parent’s worst nightmare.”

As an added bonus, Snedeker’s command performance delivered a level of prearranged simplicity that had been missing from the finale in recent years. At fifth on the FedEx Cup points list entering the week all he needed to do was win and start figuring out how many ways one can split $10 million.

Not that the FedEx Cup waters were completely clear of muddy math when points leader Rory McIlroy played his first seven holes in 4 over. The possibility of a victory by Rose or Ryan Moore, who tied Snedeker for the lead with a 10-footer for birdie at the 15th hole, was enough to keep the Tour statisticians busy grinding out all manner of projections and scenarios, but Snedeker mercifully nixed the drama before it reached a confusing crescendo.

“He’s so mentally tough,” said Rose, who closed with 71, his first over-par card of the week, to finish alone in second place three strokes back. “To do what he did today is impressive. There’s a different kind of pressure playing for $10 million.”

Snedeker also had the benefit of a leaderboard that, outside of Moore, featured mostly one-way traffic – that is to say south.

Tiger Woods, second in the FedEx Cup points race to begin the week, played his first six holes on Sunday in 4 over. Some figured he blew his Tour Championship chances with a second-round 73, but that Sunday 72 didn’t exactly endear itself to the leaderboard.

“I fought very hard just to shoot what I shot on the last couple of days, but obviously it was not enough,” said Woods, whose tie for eighth was his worst showing at the finale since 2003. “I just didn’t have it this weekend.”

On Wednesday at East Lake Tour commissioner Tim Finchem figured next year’s move to a split-calendar schedule would bring a refreshing conclusion to the season. Thanks to Woods’ pedestrian playoff run it seems as if nearly all 2012 questions were answered.

Unless he adds a fall start, which seems unlikely, Woods will finish the season with three Tour victories and no majors, leaving McIlroy – four tilts and his second major – the clubhouse leader for the Player of the Year hardware.

Forgive the Ulsterman, however, if he left his first Tour Championship feeling a tad pencil-whipped.

When McIlroy bolted Crooked Stick following his second consecutive playoff victory he was 3,232 points clear of No. 2 Woods, and 3,357 ahead of Snedeker. Before he picked up his courtesy car in Atlanta that lead had been reset to 250 and 900, respectively. Let the record show McIlroy finished second in the FedEx Cup race – just 1,273 points back.

Call it the math of diminishing returns, but the world No. 1 took the high road following his round.

“It’s just the way it is,” said McIlroy, who tied for 10th in his first Tour Championship after a closing 74. “I’m not going to criticize the format. You have to play well every week.”

Snedeker, who finished runner-up at the playoff opener in New York and sixth at the Deutsche Bank Championship, couldn’t agree more. The sixth-year Tour player has waited a long time for the patience and peace of mind to prove that he’s a world-class player.

A day that began with tears ended with previously unimaginable cheers, not to mention a hefty payday.

“Life is all about timing,” Snedeker smiled.

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Snedeker starts slow in effort to snag Masters invite

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.

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.

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LaCava: Woods wouldn't talk after H.O.R.S.E. match

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 2:27 pm

The competitive streak within Tiger Woods knows no bounds - even on the basketball court, according to caddie Joe LaCava.

LaCava has been on Woods' bag since 2011, and he recently shared a story on "Inside the Ropes" on Sirius/XM PGA Tour Radio about a clash between the two men over a seemingly friendly game of H.O.R.S.E. Actually, it turned into nine straight games (and nine straight wins) for LaCava, who exploited a weakness in Woods' on-court strategy while leaning on a mid-length jumper of his own:

"The thing with him was if I missed a shot, which I missed plenty of shots, but if I missed the shot he'd go back down to the 3 (point line) because he liked to make the 3," LaCava said. "But it's harder obviously to make a 3, and I'd go right back to the baseline 12-footer, and he couldn't make it."

It's a short list of people who have beaten Woods nine times in any athletic pursuit, let alone in a row. But for LaCava, the fallout from his afternoon of on-court dominance was less than subtle.

"He did not talk to me the rest of the day," LaCava explained. "I didn't even get the old text, 'Dinner is ready,' because I stay across at the beach house. I didn't even get that text that night. I had to get take-out. He didn't announce he wasn't (talking), he just did it. I'm telling you, nine games in a row. Like I said, he's so competitive, even at something like that."