Snedeker makes the most of his second Masters
By Jason Feldman
Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN
AUGUSTA, Ga. – That Brandt Snedeker was within a shot of the lead after the first round of the Masters should come as no shock to anyone who has followed his golf career.
That he took time to verbally thump his chest should. It was just a little thump, though. More like a tap. And it was delivered with Snedeker’s standard humility.
"I have never lacked for confidence for myself," Snedeker said after firing a 3-under-par 69 Thursday to put himself in a tie for third place at Augusta National Golf Club. "That’s one thing, though, I really don’t like telling people about. I think if you ask any pro golfer, we all think we can hit every golf shot in the world."
Snedeker hit every shot he needed to on Thursday, going the first 17 holes of his second trip to Augusta National without a bogey. His only hiccup came on 18, when he blasted his approach shot over the green, pitched back to about 10 feet and slid the par putt just left of the cup.
"I just caught kind of a bad break there, got a little mud on my ball in the fairway on 18," he said. "It was a good day, ball-striking wise, with the one bogey."
Snedeker has had plenty of good days since he turned pro after playing in his first Masters four years ago. He finished 41st in 2004, playing as an amateur after earning an invitation by winning the 2003 U.S. Amateur Public Links championship.
It took more than two years for Snedeker, an All-America golfer at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, to win a professional tournament. His first win happened to come in July 2006, when he beat Jeff Quinney in a two-hole playoff to win the Scholarship America Showdown, at Somerby Golf Club in Byron.
Snedeker smiled Thursday when asked what he remembered about winning at Somerby and playing on the Nationwide Tour.
"It was fantastic," he said. "The Nationwide Tour really helped me turn from an amateur golfer to a professional golfer. It taught me how to travel, how to prepare and, most important, how to manage my time."
Snedeker, 27, has showed the same steady demeanor on the PGA Tour as he did at Somerby. In his first month of full-time play on the big tour, Snedeker flirted with 59, shooting 61 in the first round of the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines in January 2007. Seven months later, Snedeker captured his first PGA Tour event, the Wyndham Championship in North Carolina. His paycheck that week was about 10 times what he earned at Somerby 13 months earlier.
He finished in the top 30 on the PGA Tour money list last season (17th, $2,836,643) – which sealed his invitation to Augusta National for 2008 – and he was named the Rookie of the Year.
"I feel like I’m a lot more mature than when I came here four years ago," said Snedeker, who is getting married in October. "Last time I was here to enjoy it, with my brother caddying for me, and use it as a springboard to my pro career.
"This time, there’s one intention – to win."