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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Rahm ready to bomb and gouge around Colonial

By Will GrayMay 23, 2018, 3:40 pm

Faced with one of the PGA Tour's most traditional layouts, Jon Rahm has no plans to take his foot off the gas pedal.

Rahm is one of four players ranked inside the top six headlining the field at this week's Fort Worth Invitational, where the Spaniard dazzled with bookend rounds of 66 to share runner-up honors in his tournament debut a year ago. Set to make his return, Rahm explained that Colonial Country Club is similar to the narrow, tree-lined course in Spain where he first learned the game with driver in hand.


Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


So while many other players in the field will play for position, Rahm plans to employ the same strategy he did on his boyhood course by letting it rip off the tee and taking his chances.

"I felt like if I am going to miss the fairway, I would rather be 60 or 70 yards away than laying up and having 130, especially with this rough being unpredictable and these small greens," Rahm told reporters Wednesday. "The closer you are to the green, the easier it will be to hit the green. That's kind of the idea I have."

Rahm struggled in his most recent start at The Players, but otherwise has had a strong spring highlighted by a win in Spain and a fourth-place showing at the Masters. The 23-year-old added that he feels "a lot more comfortable" off the tee with driver in hand than a fairway wood or long iron, so expect more counterintuitive strategy this week from a player who had no trouble solving one of the Tour's oldest riddles a year ago.

"I like traditional golf courses," he said. "You know, everything that says it shouldn't be good for me, in my mind, is good for me."

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Power Rankings: 2018 Fort Worth Invitational

By Will GrayMay 23, 2018, 2:54 pm

The PGA Tour stays in Texas this week, heading across town for the Fort Worth Invitational. A field of 120 players will tackle venerable Colonial Country Club, where Ben Hogan won a record five times.

Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to submit your picks for this week's event.

Kevin Kisner won this event last year by one shot over Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm and Sean O Hair. Here are 10 names to watch in Fort Worth:

1. Jordan Spieth: When it comes to Spieth at Colonial, throw out the stats. He has gone T-2, Win, T-2 over the last three years and hasn't finished worse than T-14 in five career trips. While his putter has continued to hold him back, including last week in Dallas, Spieth lists Colonial among his favorite venues on Tour and plays accordingly.

2. Webb Simpson: Simpson is making his first start since a decisive win at TPC Sawgrass, one that capped a string of impressive play this year. Now he returns to a course where he finished fifth last year and T-3 the year before, with nine of his last 10 competitive rounds at Colonial in the 60s.

3. Zach Johnson: Johnson is a two-time champ and the tournament's all-time leading money winner, having averaged almost a $300,000 payday in 12 prior appearances. Like Spieth, he speaks openly about his affinity for the type of golf Colonial demands and his fifth-place finish last month in San Antonio proves another win may be on the horizon.

4. Jimmy Walker: Walker has finished T-6 or better in each of his last three starts across three pretty different tracks: TPC San Antonio, TPC Sawgrass and Trinity Forest. While he doesn't have the best history at Colonial, Walker did tie for 10th in 2014 and clearly has momentum on his side now that he's feeling healthy for the first time in months.

5. Jon Rahm: The Spaniard impressed in his Colonial debut last year, missing out on a possible playoff by a single shot. While many other top-ranked players have received more acclaim in recent weeks, Rahm has quietly gone about his business including a fourth-place showing at the Masters and a win in his home country. He struggled at The Players, but a similar result didn't impact him much last year once he got to Fort Worth.

6. Kevin Kisner: Don't discount the defending champ, who has now cracked the top 10 each of the last three years at this event. Kisner thrives on the "small ball" style of layouts like Colonial and Harbour Town, and he would be higher on this list were it not for missed cuts in each of his last two starts.

7. Rickie Fowler: Fowler's missed cut at Sawgrass, largely the result of a slow start and a lost ball in a tree, can be discounted since his play up until then this year has been largely strong, highlighted by his Masters runner-up. Fowler hasn't played Colonial since a missed cut in 2014, but he did finish T-16 and T-5 in 2011-12.

8. Adam Scott: Once again equipped with the long putter and with his sights set on qualifying for the U.S. Open, Scott's game is starting to turn around. A T-11 finish at Sawgrass was followed by a T-9 finish last week, his first top-10 anywhere since June. Now he heads across town to a course where he won in 2013 and where his stellar tee-to-green play should again be rewarded.

9. Matt Kuchar: A frustrated Kuchar saw his consecutive made cuts streak end last week at Trinity Forest, but he'll likely start a new one this week on a course where he has missed the cut only once in 10 appearances. Kuchar was a runner-up at Colonial in 2013 and has finished T-16 or better in four of his last six trips to Fort Worth.

10. Justin Rose: The Englishman opted out of the European Tour's flagship event to make his return to Colonial for the first time since 2010. While his T-13 finish back in 2005 remains his best result in four prior appearances, Rose has cracked the top 25 in four of his last five individual starts and seems likely to continue that run on a course that should play to his strengths.

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Rosaforte Report: What makes Wise so good, while so young

By Tim RosaforteMay 23, 2018, 2:39 pm

Is Aaron Wise the real deal?

It may be too early to answer that question – or even make that proclamation; after all, the baby-faced 21-year-old had zero top-10s in his first 15 starts as a PGA Tour rookie. Now, one month after a missed the cut in the Valero Texas Open, Wise is being associated with phrases like “phenom” and “It kid,” thanks to a strong showing at Quail Hollow and a victory at Trinity Forest.

But that’s how it works in this transient time of golf, where there’s always room to join the party and become one of the guys hanging out with Rickie Fowler. You watch: Next we will see Wise playing practice rounds with Tiger Woods, next to Bryson DeChambeau. It would be the wise thing to do.

As for certifiable greatness, we really won’t know about Wise until he’s played some majors and established himself beyond this two-tournament stretch. Had he not turned pro, he would have been a college senior leading Oregon into the NCAA finals.

But what we do know, based on the opinions of those closest to him, is that Wise has the “instinctual” and “emotionally strong” qualities of a great one – the “real deal” qualities, so to speak.

From “knowing how to win” (college coach Casey Martin), to “being a natural in picking the right shot” (swing instructor Jeff Smith) to “the way he embraced mental training, very much like Tiger.” (sports psychologist Jay Brunza), Wise ranks high in all the nuances required of greatness.



Asked if he was surprised with Wise’s second-place finish at the Wells Fargo Championship and win at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Smith said without hesitation, “Not at all. The tough part as a coach was tempering expectations. I have to keep reminding him over and over and over, you’re only 21 years old.”

This week’s Fort Worth Invitational will provide further opportunity to gauge where Wise ranks in the spectrum of potential greatness. One of the elements that surfaced in his last two starts: While not physically imposing, the kid’s athleticism is a noticeable byproduct of the tennis he played during middle school and early high school growing up in Lake Elsinore, Calif., just 54 miles from where Woods grew up in Cypress. Wise was good enough to be “pretty highly ranked,” and was torn between a golf coach that wanted him to quit tennis, and a tennis coach that wanted him to quit golf.

Golf won out, but what we have seen recently is Wise’s hand-eye athleticism at work, the ability of knowing what shot to hit and how to hit the off-speed and stroke-saving shots that are necessary under the gun. “He’s like a natural in the feel side of the game,” says Smith.

In the mental game, there are even some intuitive comparisons to Woods drawn by Brunza, who started working with Tiger when he was 13. The best example, thus far, of those qualities was the fifth shot Wise holed for bogey to close out his third round at Wells Fargo. After whiffing his third shot and blading his fourth, it was the most meaningful shot in Wise’s short time in the big leagues.

It was what Brunza would so aptly describe as “managing the nervous arousal level within.” Instead of being rattled, Wise chipped in for bogey. He would call it “huge,” and “awesome,” and made the promise that it would carry him into the final round – which it did.

Wise closed with a 68 that Sunday and lost by two strokes to Jason Day, never appearing to be nervous or out of place. After a week off for not qualifying for The Players, that relaxed confidence carried over to Dallas, to the point where closing out a PGA Tour win for the first time felt like it did at the NCAAs, Canada and the Web.com Tour.

“To not only compete, but to play as well as I did, with all that pressure, gave me confidence having been in that situation (with Day at Quail Hollow),” Wise said on “Morning Drive.”

Wise was accompanied at Trinity Forest by his mother, who engaged in what Wise characterized as a joking conversation Sunday morning of just how much money Aaron would make with a win. It was a reminder of the short time span was between winning on Tour, at 21, and not being able the handle costs of playing on the AJGA circuit. Showing poise and patience with the last tee time, Wise did the smart thing and went back to sleep.

Wise didn’t come on radar until he won the 2016 NCAA Men’s DI individual title and helped lead the Ducks to the team title.

Playing mostly what Oregon coach Martin calls local events in Southern Cal hurt his exposure, but not his potential. “He came on really fast,” Martin remembers. “He was a very good junior player but wasn’t the greatest and he didn’t come from a ton of money so he didn’t play AJGA [much] and wasn’t recruited like other kids.”

Instead of pursing pre-law at Oregon, Wise went to the tour’s development schools and won the Syncrude Oil Country Championship on PGA Tour Canada and the Air Capital Classic.

Before Quail Howllow, there was nothing to indicate this sort of transcendent greatness. Statistically, none of numbers (except for being ninth in birdies) jump off the stat sheet. He’s 32nd in driving distance and 53rd in greens hit in regulation. But there are no strokes saved categories for the instinctual qualities he displayed on the two Sundays when he’s had a chance to win. “He’s a really cool customer that doesn’t get rattled,” says Martin. “He doesn’t overreact, good or bad.”

Lately, it’s been all good.

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NCAA DI Women's Champ.: Scoring, TV times

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 23, 2018, 11:00 am

The NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship is underway at Kartsen Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.

After three days of stroke play, eight teams advanced to the match-play portion of the championship. Quarterfinals and semifinals were contested Tuesday, with the finals being held on Wednesday. Golf Channel is airing the action live.

Wake Forest junior Jennifer Kupcho won the individual title. Click here for live finals action, beginning at 4 p.m. ET.

Scoring:

TV Times (all times ET):

Wednesday
4-8PM: Match-play finals (Click here to watch live)