Brandt Snedeker is an accomplished player on the PGA Tour with over $12 million in career earnings since 2004, three PGA Tour wins, and a boatload of fans who just love the lanky boyish gait, blond curls popping out of the back of his visor, and the Opie Taylor smile that seems to say “I’m glad to be playing the game I love for a living”.
His dramatic playoff win at Torrey Pines this year and getting to the third round of the WGC Accenture Match Play have put him on our radar screen once again this year. Currently eighth on the PGA Money List, FedEx Cup Standings, and 2012 Ryder Cup List would indicate that he is likely to stay there for the rest of this year.
With The Masters approaching it is a great time to reflect on Sneds connection to the major he probably covets more than any other. Flash back to 2004 when Snedeker, playing college golf for Vanderbilt, qualified for The Masters as an amateur winning the U.S. Public Links Championship. He knew of The Masters tradition providing players who qualify access to the course prior to their appearance in the tournament. So for the eight months leading up to his first appearance he would drive seven hours each way nearly every weekend between Nashville to Augusta to play a couple of rounds on one of the most revered venues in the game.
In that Masters, he made the cut as an amateur, shooting 12 over for the four rounds, but this cache of practice rounds gave him a familiarity with Augusta that would serve him well four years later.
Flash forward to 2008 (I love these special effects) he was not playing his best coming into the Masters and he only hoped to somehow get into the top 16 to get an automatic invite back in 2009. He got a dream pairing with Tom Watson his boyhood idol and proceed to play the course he knew so well like a wily veteran shooting 69-68 to get within one of the lead after the halfway cut.
With family and friends walking each step of the way, Sneds flirted with history and embossed that smiling image into the consciousness of a growing group of endearing golf fans. Take a moment and read this revealing 2008 article by Michael Bamberger from Sports Illustrated Vault that recounts Sneds journey that week to an incredible third place finish in The Masters.
With his putting stroke, I would not be surprised this Easter Sunday if Sneds is hawking twenty footers through Amen Corner and nipping at the seams of a green jacket.