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The Next Big Things on TOUR

Brandt Snedeker, instantly likable as a player because hes so winningly long on enthusiasm and so blessedly short in the amount of time he needs to prepare for his next shot, fired a 63 Sunday in North Carolina and seized the Wyndham Championship.
The victory did a bunch of things for the 26-year-old Snedekers PGA TOUR resume.
It established him as the odds-on favorite to be voted Rookie of the Year by his peers at the end of this season. (The list of past winners, by the way, is a fast company. Other names on it include Wood, Els, Singh, Daly and Cink, just to name a few.)
It got him into next years Masters and the Mercedes-Benz Championship.
It made him exempt on TOUR through 2009.
And it marked him as, arguably, the hottest player in the field going into next weeks inaugural FedExCup event'The Barclays'which kicks off golfs new four-week playoff system. Prior to holding off Jeff Overton, Billy Mayfair and Tim Petrovic by two shots Sunday, Snedeker had posted three top-10s in his last five starts. After barely making the cut at last weeks PGA Championship in the wicked heat of Tulsa, he carded a 69 and a 70 on the weekend to grab a share of 18th.
Pretty heady stuff for the former Vanderbilt all-American and U.S. Public Links champion.
But not, if you delve into his golfing history, all that surprising.
Lets flash back to 2006 when Snedeker was struggling on the Nationwide Tour. The problem was he was trying too hard and he knew it. At the LaSalle Bank Classic near Chicago he made a conscious decision to cool it.
I decided I would just stop trying to shoot 62 every round, he said at the time. I guess I just decided to get out of my own way.
Funny thing was, not long thereafter, he fired a 62 in the first round of the Nationwide Tours Chattanooga Classic. By the end of last year he had jumped to No. 9 on that tours money list which punched his ticket to the Big Show.
In this seasons fourth PGA TOUR event, the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines near San Diego, Snedeker blazed his way to an opening round 61 on Torrey Pines North course. His card included nine birdies and an eagle.
I played phenomenal, he said.
Snedeker didnt win. But he got everybodys attention.
Sunday at Greensboro Snedeker went out in 6-under 30 and took the outright lead at 21 under with a birdie, his third straight, at the par-5 15th.
Its a great day, he said.
This great day for Snedeker also boosted him to No. 9 in the FedExCup point standings which guarantees him a spot in all four playoff events. Snedeker began the week 26th in that points race.
Its not quite time yet to declare Snedeker the next big star of the future. But hes doing a pretty good imitation and you cant ignore his confidence at the moment.
Snedeker also managed to put a bold-faced exclamation point on the Wyndham Championship. It began Thursday as an event that didnt have one player in the top 30 in the world rankings because it came the week after the PGA. And it wound up forcing the golf world to pay attention to all the hustling going on for the final FedExCup spots.
The FedExCup is still a work in progress. But it has a window right now to grab sporting headlines. College and professional football havent begun their seasons in earnest. And the baseball pennant races wont command center stage until next month.
Its setting up very well, said PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem Sunday. Its gonna take finishing these playoffs for people to really understand fully what the Cup is all about. And it sets us up for next year and the year after that.
Brandt Snedeker, by the looks of it, will be around for next year and the that. And the year after that ... And the year after ...
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Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Wyndham Championship