Ten reasons you like Brandt Snedeker

By Jason SobelFebruary 11, 2013, 12:54 am

If you’re reading this, congratulations. You’ve successfully navigated your way onto the Internet. As you’ve probably already discovered, this place can be a bastion of quality information. Book a flight, find out which year the Magna Carta was signed, check out bikini models, whatever. It’s all here.

That’s the good stuff. Then there’s the other stuff. The anonymity of hiding behind a keyboard can promote way more hate-mongering than anything you’d ever hear in person. In golf’s little corner of the world, it can manifest itself in ridiculous ways. There is contempt for Phil Mickelson being too outgoing and Tiger Woods not being outgoing enough. There is disdain for Ian Poulter being too flashy and Retief Goosen not being flashy enough. You get the picture.

AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am: Articles, videos and photos

All of which leads us to Brandt Snedeker. He is a marvel in this world, an anomaly in full. People either like Snedeker or just don’t know enough about him yet – and yes, that includes the usual keyboard-tapping hate-mongers.

It’s funny – this piece is called Ten Reasons You Like Brandt Snedeker, but it could easily be called Ten Reasons Brandt Snedeker is Playing So Well. Those two things don’t always go hand in hand – there are successful players who aren’t well-liked and popular players who aren’t very successful – but in this case, in the wake of his AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am victory, they are one and the same.

1. Because he understands his placement in golf’s hierarchy.

Last week, after a second straight runner-up finish moved him to what was then a career-high sixth in the Official World Golf Ranking, I asked Snedeker whether he receives enough credit as one of the game’s elite players.

“You have to win majors and win tournaments to be recognized as an elite player,” he told me. “And I haven't done nearly enough of that, you know. I'm playing great right now. I'm as high as I have ever been in the world ranking and all that kind of stuff, but you have to win tournaments to validate that. I haven't done it.”

No sense of self-entitlement, no Rodney Dangerfield “I get no respect” barbs.

With his win, Snedeker moved up to No. 4, but his feelings on being considered elite undoubtedly haven’t been altered. “Until you win majors,” he said Sunday night, “you’re kind of in the second tier.” This is a guy who gets it. Six months of torrid play is terrific, but five career wins can get you only so far without a major. It’s refreshing to watch and listen to a player whose ego hasn’t become overinflated by a modicum of success.

2. Because he’s been sporting some ridiculous, eye-popping numbers lately.

Dating back to last August, Snedeker has played nine official PGA Tour events. He’s finished sixth or better in seven of them, including wins at last year’s Tour Championship and this past week’s Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and three runner-up finishes.

Since the Tour started keeping stats like these in 1990, he’s the first player to follow back-to-back second-place results with a win in the third week.

In 19 rounds this season, 18 have been under par. Extend that to last season and in his last 37 rounds, 33 of them have been under par.

He has now earned $2,841,920 in the first 41 days of the year. That amount would have ranked 27th on last season’s money list.

And my personal favorite …

In the past three weeks, he has played against 441 fellow competitors and beaten 438 of them.

That’s a loss to Tiger Woods at Torrey Pines (where he shared second with Josh Teater), a loss to Phil Mickelson in Phoenix and a win at Pebble Beach.  If there’s one hard-and-fast rule to finding success, it’s that beating nearly everyone you play against should help matters.

3. Because he plays like a guy who’s about to catch hell from his wife for being late to dinner.

We’ve all teed it up with guys like this. Types who barely have their yardage before they’re already in their backswing. Types who don’t read putts from every possible angle. Types about whom we say, “I think I play fast, but that guy? Man, he’s in another gear.”

There aren’t too many of these types on the PGA Tour, where apparently the tortoise serves as king of the jungle. But if you believe that your local muni has gotten slower from hackers trying to emulate the likes of Kevin Na and Ben Crane, then it should stand to reason that we’ll all play a little faster after consuming Snedeker’s rapid pace.

With the USGA turning its attention to slow play and the PGA Tour promising to keep “looking at it,” the game needs a face for ready golf. That face can very well be Snedeker, who is proving that fast play and great play don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

In fact, forget the foursome in front of you at the local muni learning a little something from him. Let’s just hope his professional peers are paying attention.

4. Because he putts really well.

5. No, like, incredibly well.

6. As in, the best putter in the world.

At some point in the last year or two, Snedeker overtook Steve Stricker (who had previously overtaken Brad Faxon) as the guy who rolls it truer than anyone else. Maybe not the man you’d pick for the proverbial “make one putt with your life on the line,” but definitely the one you’d pay good money to watch on the practice green. He putts with pace; he putts aggressively; he putts to make rather than to not miss.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that in the past four seasons he’s ranked in the top 20 in putting each time, topping the list last year.

Maybe it tells us more about the act of putting than anything about Snedeker himself when we break down his stats from this season – when he’s been playing perhaps the best golf of his life – and find that, well, he hasn’t been as impressive as most of us have thought.

Entering the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, he ranked 25th in strokes gained putting (good), 113th in three-putt avoidance (not so good) and 200th in total putting (really not good). On Sunday, he three-putted the ninth hole after a brutally ugly birdie attempt, which was eerily reminiscent of his four-putt on the final hole of the 2009 BMW Championship – a blunder which cost him not only thousands of dollars, but berths in a few major championships, too. 

And yet, it seems like every time we see him, he’s pouring in a 12-footer that finds the dead center of the cup.

What does it all mean? I interpret it like this: Putting ain’t easy. Nobody makes all of 'em. But Snedeker makes more than anyone else and – most importantly – makes more momentum-saving putts than anyone. There’s no stat to back this up, but I’d put him up against all competition when it comes to holing a long par attempt to keep from backtracking or making an unlikely birdie that sparks a rally.

7. Because he really enjoys playing golf.

There was a poignant moment on the final green at Pebble Beach on Sunday afternoon. With his par putt marked safely near the hole to clinch a two-shot victory, Snedeker was grinding with a read. Not for him, though. For his pro-am partner, Toby Wilt.

Granted, the two men are longtime friends; granted, Snedeker was reading putts for him throughout the week; and granted, this one was for the outright pro-am title. But it still spoke volumes about the man that he not only gave the putt a read, he actually cared if it went in. When Wilt’s lemon-yellow ball slid agonizingly by the hole, Snedeker looked crestfallen.

Other than that moment, though, he flashed a ubiquitous smile for four days around the Monterey Peninsula. And that wasn’t only when he was raining putts. Snedeker is the rare pro who appears to relish the challenge of a wayward tee shot or approach, who looks just as happy saving a tough par as he does making an easy birdie.

Don’t believe how much he loves the game? Check out this story: Thinking this year’s U.S. Open venue is tailor-made for his game, I recently asked him if he’d ever played Merion before. Snedeker revealed that he hadn’t, but he was eager to go there soon. Not on a scouting mission or to prepare for the major, but as part of a buddies trip. Yes, he’s a pro golfer who plays golf on vacation. That’s a rarer thing than you might expect.

8. Because his on-course strategy is so complicated that only he understands it.

After one round this past week, Snedeker unleashed his best Yogi Berra impersonation: 'My M.O. is to not do anything stupid. Unfortunately, I don't do it very often.'

9. Because he’s started out-Luke Donalding and out-Matt Kucharing both Luke Donald and Matt Kuchar.

Mention those two names to any golf fan and ask what they have in common. In almost every instance, the response will be one word: consistency.

Week in, week out over the past few years, those guys have been pulling top-10 finishes and six-figure paydays. Now they’re joined by Snedeker – and for now, even bypassed – in an elite group of players who fare just as well in prestigious tournaments as regular events and just as well on big ballparks as ball-strikers’ setups.

Prior to the first week of this season, I asked about a dozen players what they most wanted to accomplish this year. The majority said, “More consistency.” Right now, Snedeker is accomplishing that better than anyone else.

10. Because he’s on a great run right now – and it won’t last forever.

That’s not a knock on Snedeker. It’s just golf. I could have written a piece similar to this about Jason Dufner nine months ago. Since then, he hasn’t finished better than seventh in an official PGA Tour event.

Guys get hot, they stay hot for a little while, then it fades. As Padraig Harrington said recently, “Everybody peaks. Professional golfers tend to last about 18 months when they peak, then drift back to who they are.”

If that’s the case, then Snedeker is about halfway through his peak – the peak of his peak, if you will.

I’ve always thought what separates the all-timers from those who are “only” great is their ability to extend this peak. Some of the best players can double or triple that time at the top of their games. Hell, Tiger Woods extended his 18-month apex to 14 years at one point. Maybe this isn’t the case for Snedeker. Maybe he’s one of the all-timers, blossoming before our very eyes, never to come crashing down to normality.

Chances are, though, he’s just riding this peak. It’s been fun to watch. Enjoy it while it lasts.

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McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:53 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.

McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.

But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.

Said Harmon:

“Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.

“This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”

McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.

“Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”

McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.

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How The Open cut line is determined

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:57 am

Scores on Day 1 of the 147th Open Championship ranged from 5-under 66 to 11-over 82.

The field of 156 players will be cut nearly in half for weekend play at Carnoustie. Here’s how the cut line works in the season’s third major championship:

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

• After 36 holes, the low 70 players and ties will advance to compete in the final two rounds. Anyone finishing worse than that will get the boot. Only those making the cut earn official money from the $10.5 million purse.

• There is no 10-shot rule. That rule means anyone within 10 shots of the lead after two rounds, regardless of where they stand in the championship, make the cut. It’s just a flat top 70 finishers and ties.

• There is only a single cut at The Open. PGA Tour events employ an MDF (Made cut Did not Finish) rule, which narrows the field after the third round if more than 78 players make the cut. That is not used at this major.

The projected cut line after the first round this week was 1 over par, which included 71 players tied for 50th or better.

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The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:30 am

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

How old is it?

It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

Where is it played?

There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

Where will it be played this year?

At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

Who has won The Open on that course?

Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

Who has won this event the most?

Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

What about the Morrises?

Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

Have players from any particular country dominated?

In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Who is this year's defending champion?

That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

What is the trophy called?

The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

Which Opens have been the most memorable?

Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:30 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)