Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Brandt Snedeker is on a roll not seen very
often before. Since 1970, no player had posted back-to-back runner-up
finishes, then won his next start.
Snedeker ended that string on Sunday. He put together four terrific rounds on
the Monterey coast and cruised to his fifth PGA Tour title at the Pebble Beach
As good as he has been this year, looking forward to the major season, things
get a little hazy for the reigning FedExCup champion.
Golf Channel's Jason Sobel pumped the breaks on considering Snedeker as a
Masters favorite when he tweeted that the last player to win Pebble then the
Masters in the same year was Tom Watson - in 1977.
Digging deeper on that same thought path, only 17 times since 1955 has the
Pebble Beach winner gone on to win a major that same year. And three of those
winners won multiple majors after their victory at Pebble Beach.
Snedeker knows the next step for him is to win a major
"I've gone there in the past thinking I could contend. This year, I'm going
there knowing I can contend," Snedeker said of Augusta National and The
Masters. "Knowing that winning is not a far-fetched idea. It's very much a
reality. I go in with a ton of confidence. I know if I play the way I've
played the last few weeks that there's very few people in the world that can
beat me. I would relish that challenge of being there on Sunday."
Maybe he'll be the one to buck the trend and end the string of Pebble winners
not winning at Augusta. And he's got some statistical data on his side.
Snedeker shared third at the season-opening Tournament of Champions. After a
share of 23rd at the Humana Challenge, he finished second in consecutive weeks
to Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
If you expand the focus of his finishes to the end of last season, in eight of
his last 10 PGA Tour starts, Snedeker has finished inside the top 11. In that
span, he has two wins and three runner-up finishes.
He said on Sunday that one of his goals is to become the best American player,
but in the same breath admitted he has a long way to go.
One area of his game that is fine is his putting. In many people's eyes,
Snedeker has replaced Steve Stricker as the best American putter on the PGA
Through five events, he ranks in the top 30 in Strokes Gained, Putting
Average, which is average putts per green in regulation, and Overall Putting,
which is average putts per hole.
The 32-year-old's putting helps him overcome two lesser parts of his game -
total driving, where he ranks 76th, and average approach shot distance, where
he ranks just 147th.
Drive for show, putt for dough as the old saying goes. And Snedeker's putter
has helped him rack of lots of dough since September.
If he continues to roll the rock like he has in his last three events,
Snedeker would be the clear favorite next week at the WGC - Accenture Match
Play Championship. However, his third-round loss last year was his best
showing in that event.
Winning a WGC is the next logical step before winning a major. I'm not trying
to downplay Snedeker's chances at Augusta, but there are eight tournaments
between now and then. If The Masters were in two or three weeks, he'd be among
the top two or three favorites.
Getting back to Pebble winners winning a major later that same season, Phil
Mickelson was the last to do so when he won the 2005 Pebble Beach Pro-Am then
went on to win the PGA Championship that August.
Unfortunately for Snedeker, the U.S. Open isn't at Pebble Beach this year. He
could have joined Woods (2000) and Jack Nicklaus (1972) as the third player to
win the Pebble tournament and the U.S. Open on the same course in the same
Snedeker is clearly the hottest golfer on the PGA Tour right now, but there
are nine weeks until the first major at Augusta. He is a favorite as of today,
but that could change quickly.
KO CONTINUES TO ASTONISH
Lydia Ko, who is all of 15 years old, won her third professional golf
tournament last Sunday in New Zealand.
This victory came after she won the ANZ Ladies Masters and the Canadian
Women's Open last year.
This wasn't a weak field that she ran over. Among those competing were former
Solheim Cup players like Maria Hjorth, Gwladys Nocera and Laura Davies, along
with a couple other young up-and-comers such as Ariya Jutanugarn and Cheyenne
Woods, Tiger's niece.
Ko was born in South Korea, but lives in New Zealand. She nearly won this
title each of the last three years before finally breaking through.
"This win is at the top. It is the national open and I came so close in the
last three years. This topped it off. The New South Wales Open and the
Canadian Open were obviously great wins as well," Ko said. "It means a lot and
makes it more special to be the first New Zealander to win the Women's Open.
It is always special to make history. I guess I broke history again."
She certainly has her named stamped in the record books already. She is the
youngest winner in LPGA and Ladies European Tour history, and is easily the
youngest player ever with three professional wins.
Ko is clearly the top-ranked female amateur golfer in the world, and has risen
to No. 30 in the world rankings.
That is not a misprint.
For those that haven't seen Ko in action, she is playing this week's LPGA Tour
event in Australia and will play the Kraft Nabisco Championship the first week
If she is this good at 15, imagine how great she'll be at 25!
* The biggest reason Snedeker is having a solid season so far, he's broken par
in 18 of his 19 rounds, and 16-of-19 rounds were in the 60s.
* Phil Mickelson is skipping the Accenture Match Play again next week. His
kids are off from school, so the family goes on vacation. He can do that
any time he wants, but whatever floats your boat Phil. Why not go to the Match
Play, where even a first-round loser earns $45,000?
The Sports Network