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Snedeker in Position for First Major
Brandt Snedeker has been one of the hottest golfers in the recent seasons. The 32-year-old has logged three victories in the past two years, including the Tour Championship, which led the Nashville native to also win the season-long FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus.
He also got off to a good start in 2013, with four top-10 finishes - including a win in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in early February. Right after that tournament, though, Snedeker was forced to take a month off to recover from a rib injury.
But Snedeker, recognized as one of the PGA Tour's best putters, is knocking on the door again. Through 54 holes of the Masters he's tied for the lead with Argentina's Angel Cabrera at 7-under 209, one stroke ahead of Adam Scott and two up on a pair of other Australians, Jason Day and Marc Leishman.
Both Snedeker and Cabrera - the 2009 Masters champion and winner of the 2007 U.S. Open - carded 3-under 69s Saturday to earn spots in Sunday's last twosome.
Snedeker's best finish at five prior events at Augusta National came in 2008 when he tied for third; the last two years he ended up at T15 and T19. So he knows what he's facing in the final round - a pressure-packed golf tournament, a fearsome opponent in Cabrera, and 11 players within five strokes of the lead.
After signing his bogey-free scorecard in the third round, which listed three birdies and the rest pars, Snedeker met with reporters on the eve of what could be the biggest triumph of his six-year career. Here's what he told the media.
MODERATOR: Good afternoon, we would like to welcome Brandt Snedeker, his sixth Masters appearance, three birdies today, one bogey. And best finish was in 2008, when he tied for third and finished today with a 69. We invite your questions.
Q. Were there any moments of real stress out there, weighing the fact that it's the third round of the Masters, did you have any real stressful moments out there?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Yeah, I did. I had a couple tough up and downs early on 3 and 4, and a really tough up and down on 12, and those kept the momentum going, kept the round going. It's not easy out there. I was able to kind of get lucky a few times and miss the ball in the right spots. This golf course is just waiting to make you pay for a bad shot and I did a good job of managing my game today.
Q. You were obviously on such a roll early in the year and Pebble Beach we last saw you and kind of disappeared for a while, how do you look back on your life and career since Pebble Beach?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Yeah, it's been two seasons, I guess, is the best way to put it. The first part of the season, I was healthy, playing great, nothing was wrong. And then I got hurt and had to start pretty much from scratch again. So getting that feeling back, the momentum back, like I did early in the year, I feel like my golf swing is getting back to the way it was. My short game is in really good stead and I'm excited. I'm fresh I'm mentally fresh and physically fresh, and you know, this is what I've worked my whole life for is tomorrow. So I'm really excited about what tomorrow holds.
Q. Just kind of following, I was going to ask you the same thing, but today how close was today or what we've seen these last three days, are you to what you were when you were the hottest player in the world?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Very close. Very close. I feel not quite back to the way I was, but I feel very, very close to where I was. The confidence is coming back, everything. The biggest key for me is when I think properly around a golf course, when I manage my game the right way, miss it in the right spots. That's when I play my best, and I did a great job. Done a great job so far this week of doing that.
Q. What did you learn in 2008 that's going to help you tomorrow?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I had no clue what I was doing in 2008. I had no game plan, no idea of when to be aggressive, when not to be aggressive, how to play this golf course the way you're supposed to play it. I have a completely clear focus of what I need to do tomorrow, clear set of goals that I need to hit. If I do that, I have a chance to win this golf tournament.
Q. When you missed a couple cuts there, did you feel like you had waited too long to come back?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: No, I was waiting until I was healthy. Worst thing you can do with an injury is come back too early.
Q. You mentioned a clear set of goals, game plan for tomorrow; what are some of those goals that you have in mind to continue this roll?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I think the most obvious thing is you have to play the par-5s well. If you're going to play well at Augusta National, par-5s are very, very key. For me I've got to drive the ball well. I don't hit it far enough to play from the rough around here. If I drive the ball in the fairway and play the par 5s well tomorrow, I'm going to have a really good day.
Q. You mentioned a growth in the five years, how much have you changed in terms of being a teacher now, a little bit to Luke List, a little bit to Steven Fox and several other Tennesseans?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I try to help them not make the mistakes I made. Not that I am by any means a veteran out here, but I feel like I've made a ton of mistakes in my career to this point of how I've gone about playing and practicing in this game. I've tried to help them understand what I've learned from other guys like watching Tiger or Phil or talking to Tom Watson, Ben Crenshaw, the guys who are really successful at this game and what they do really, really well and try to pass that along to them.
Q. And how does that help you being a teacher?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Reaffirm what you should already know. Sometimes you forget basic stuff in this game. Sometimes you forget to realize how important practice regimens are, how important staying patient is, small stuff.
Q. What specifically did you do when you prepared for this tournament this year, and when did you start doing it?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Started doing it a week ago in Sea Island. Spent a week, six days down there getting ready. The biggest thing for me was getting where I could turn the ball over consistently and having my miss be right. You know, if you miss the ball right here, you've got a chance. If you miss the ball left here, you don't, as a general rule. Got my golf swing to where I feel like I have a one way miss going which is nice. And obviously my preparation all depends on putting. If you don't putt well here, you're not going to play well. I spent a lot of time over the weekend and a big part of this week putting, just making sure I'm comfortable on these greens and hopefully it's paid for so far.
Q. Given the fact that you had the two seasons, did that almost lower expectations and do you feel not so much pressure coming into this week?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Definitely. I realize it's a long year. You're going to go through - I'm not Tiger Woods. I'm not a Rory McIlroy. I'm not going to be a guy that makes a hundred cuts in a row or be an overpowering player. I'm going to be a guy that goes through up and downs, and I realize that. So try to minimize the downs and maximize the ups is all I can do.
Q. How were the course conditions today and how did you manage to stay patient through all those pars before you could break through with some birdies?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: The course is extremely difficult. When the ball bounces around here, you have to be really on top of your game, because you can put the ball in some really bad spots. Patience was obviously the word of the week every week. Y'all get tired of hearing it, but I can't underscore how important that is around this place. I realize that I think I made 12 straight pars to start the day, that's not a bad score. I don't care what you say, on this golf course, 12 straight pars is a good way to start the day. Might not be tomorrow, but today it was a good way to start the day. I realized that, just stayed patient, waited for something good to happen and it did.
Q. Is that the toughest pin placements you've seen on a Saturday here?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: It was a very quiet day out there. I didn't hear a lot of roars. Yeah, front nine I thought was especially difficult. There was not a whole lot of birdie holes on the front nine and the back nine, between - you can go through them, 10, 11, I thought were very tough pins, but they're traditional pins, you know where they are going to be. Just matters which day you're going to pull them out. Just what this golf course does, it wants you to go after pins you shouldn't go after.
Q. You talked at Pebble about the confidence you had in yourself in the wake of the runner up finishes at Torrey and then winning at Pebble; beyond your game plan, how much more equipped are you for tomorrow than you were five years ago?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I've spent 32 years of my life getting ready for tomorrow and it's all been a learning process and I am completely, 100 percent sure that I'm ready to handle no matter what happens tomorrow. I'm going to be disappointed if I don't win, period. I'm not here to get a good finish. I'm not here to finish top 5. I'm here to win and that's all I'm going to be focused on tomorrow. I realize what I have to do to do that and I'm going to do everything I can to make sure that that happens.
MODERATOR: Thank you all.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.