Third Time’s A Charm For Sneds

Brandt Snedeker captured his fifth PGA TOUR win at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Brandt Snedeker captured his fifth PGA TOUR win at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Brandt Snedeker might be thinking, “it’s about time!” after his two-shot victory at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Two weeks ago Snedeker finished tied for second place, four shots behind Tiger Woods at the Farmers Insurance Open. Last week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open,  he again finished second, also by four shots, this time to Phil Mickelson. Brandt was becoming the bridesmaid of the year on the PGA TOUR, until he putt (get it, putt?) a stop to all of that on a beautiful Sunday at Pebble Beach.

Sneds started with a bang, birdieing the first and making eagle on the second…

Sneds capped his week with a sizzling 65 to set a new tournament scoring record of 267. That’s all it took for this guy to win, set a tournament record! Considering his form going back to last fall, including his victory at the TOUR Championship and FedEx Cup win, Snedeker has shot under par in 33 of his last 37 PGA TOUR rounds…let that sink in for a second. Ian Poulter summed up Brandt’s recent form with this tweet from Sunday…

PoulterOnSneds

 

Actually, Sneds has won around $14,000,000 but who’s counting? (Apparently the man himself is not, he said last month that he has not spent a dime of his $10,000,000 FedEx Cup prize.)

With this win, the fifth of Snedeker’s PGA TOUR career, he moves to a career-high 4th in the Official World Golf Rankings behind Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods and Luke Donald. Brandt’s new cozy spot in the OWGR also gives him a number 1 seed at the WCG-Accenture Match Play Championship in two weeks. As well as Sneds has played over the last several months, I don’t think anyone would have predicted him as a top seed at the Match Play. With his incredible putting, he will certainly be, to quote Sir Nick Faldo, “A Danger Man” at Accenture and going forward this season.

How has he done this? His putting is well documented. But Snedeker has made substantial improvements in his ballstriking this season. Simply put, he’s making the game easy…drive it in the fairway, hit it on the green, putt it in the hole. Here are some key stats that Snedeker has improved upon from 2012 to 2013:

SnedekerStats

Snedeker’s improved greens in regulation stat is the result of his improved iron play, or vice-versa. Either way he is giving himself more chances for birdies. Interestingly though, he is not hitting the ball much closer to the green, 35′ 4″ in 2012 and 34′ 2″ in 2013. He is simply hitting it on the green more often. Given a greater number of opportunities combined with his flack-stick skills, its no wonder that Snedeker has already made more than a 1/3 of the total number of birdies he made all of last year…THROUGH 5 EVENTS!

Let’s pump the breaks here. While Snedeker is clearly playing the best golf of his career right now, it is likely that he will not keep this up for the entire season. Jason Dufner went on a similar run last spring and has recorded a single top 10 since then. Regression to the means. On the other hand, there are many golfers who have taken their games to a new level and maintained that for a longer period of time, Luke Donald comes to mind most recently. I picked Brandt Snedeker to win the PGA Championship at the beginning of the year. It certainly looks like he’ll take home a major this season. He just may not wait until August to do it. With Augusta now less than two months away (whoo-hoo!) Brandt Snedeker is making a great case for himself as a contender, if not favorite at The Masters.

OTHER STORIES FROM PEBBLE BEACH…

…Last week’s winner for best (or worst) celebratory dance, James Hahn (remember his Gangnam Style in the final round?), was again a factor at Pebble finishing tied for 3rd. Hahn is making a strong early case for Rookie Of The Year honors in the early season. His top 5 finish along with a top 5 at the Humana Challenge gets him into the Northern Trust Open at Riviera next week in Los Angeles…

…Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Tony Romo and pro partner Jordan Spieth (a Dallas-area native) finished tied for third in the Pro-Am competition with Brian Fritsch and Huey Lewis among others. Romo and Spieth finished at -29 two shots off the lead. The amazing part is that Spieth, the pro, was -8 for the week. So math would mean that Romo was -21 himself? No. Not quite. Remember that anytime Spieth carded a better score on a hole, Romo used that score. BUT it’s still VERY impressive for Romo who carries a +0.3 handicap, meaning he gets zero strokes in the Pro-Am competition…

…Brandt Snedeker and partner Toby Wilt finished in a tie for the Pro-Am title. Wilt had a putt for a par/net birdie on that last hole that slid by on the left edge…

…Two-time US Open Champion Retief Goosen finished in a tie for 9th place in his first PGA TOUR start since August. Goosen had been sidelined after back surgery. The $175,000 he earned was more than enough to qualify for his major medical extension, so expect to see more of The Goose in 2013…

…Lastly, some corrections:

In episode 5 of the DimpleHead Golf podcast I stated that Cypress Point Club had updated their membership policies to allow members of all races. After recording the podcast I found out that this was, in fact, not true; contrary to my own reporting. The topic came up when I called for Cypress Point to be added back to the rotation of courses for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. The PGA TOUR has a policy that prohibits clubs who do not use equal admission policies for membership from hosting PGA TOUR events, with which I fully agree. Cypress Point has been off of the rotation since 1991 and it appears the club will continue to stay there.

Additionally, mere minutes after the podcast was published it was reported that Phil Mickelson would skip the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship for the third time in four years. As in previous years, Mickelson cited his children being on a school break and that the family would take a vacation that week. After the Northern Trust Open, Mickelson will have played in five consecutive events so a break is not surprising. It is likely that Phil will play in the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral next month, possibly the Arnold Palmer Invitational and likely the Shell Houston Open two weeks before The Masters.

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