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Snedeker Seeks Another Fine Season
Brandt Snedeker had a banner 2012. The Nashville native racked up two victories, including the Farmers Insurance Open when he overcame a seven-shot deficit to 54-hole leader Kyle Stanley, and then later in the year, the Tour Championship. The latter win also gave him the FedEx Cup title and a $10 million bonus.
In 22 starts, Snedeker made 20 cuts and had seven top-10 finishes, earning $4,989,739 in official winnings to jump to No. 10 in the world golf ranking. He also played his way onto the U.S. Ryder Cup team, where he went 1-2-0 in three matches as the Americans lost to the Europeans at Medinah Country Club near Chicago.
The 32-year-old is entered in this week's season opener on the PGA Tour, the $5.7 million Hyundai Tournament of Champions, which begins Friday on the Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort in Maui, Hawaii. He'll be paired in the first round with defending champion, Steve Stricker.
On Thursday, Snedeker met with reporters and discussed his fine 2012 campaign. He hopes to get off to a hot start similar to what he did last year. Here's what the likeable Tennessean had to say to the media.
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Kind of right where I was last year, looking to start the year really fast, looking to play a lot of golf on the West Coast and looking forward to trying to get off to the right fit and get a win under my best here on the West Coast somewhere.
Q. The last few years, you've always seemed to start fairly well?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Yeah, I guess I love being on the West Coast first of all. I think we play a bunch of great golf courses in row and I feel like I'm pretty fresh when I come out of the gate so I'm always in a good frame of mind, so I'm pretty patient, don't have too high expectations. The greens, I seem to like for some reason on West Coast a lot, so I seem to putt really well and if you do, that you can play pretty well. I can't explain it but I seem to start pretty fast.
Q. You missed a pretty good stretch of golf last year, did you envision the year ending on a positive?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: No, I didn't, but that's the great thing about golf, you don't necessarily think everything is going to pan out the way it does and sometimes it comes out of nowhere and you end up doing some great stuff. Kind of a crazy way to end the year. It's been crazy to get adjusted to everything that's happened since then. It's been a great problem to have and dealing with it has been fun and got to get ready to get back at it and get busy and play some golf.
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Yeah, I look back on it a little bit and thought about that. But yeah, I might not have been as fresh. I played, you know, 10 tournaments end of the year or nine tournaments straightaway. I don't know if I'll be that fresh if I had played all through the year, so maybe I look at it as I need to take a break in the summertime like I did last year and make sure I'm fresh for late in the year. See how the schedule pans out this year but I'm looking along those lines.
Q. How about the U.S. Open this year?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I might play the U.S. Open.
Q. Looking at the schedule, what is the greater challenge with the whole wrap around the way it's changing or just having a growing family?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Both. The new schedule is year is going to be tough because you don't want to - I think everybody will want to add some events later in the year but also don't think you want to play 32 events. I don't see my body holding up and my family holding up with me doing that. So it's going to be difficult to adjust to the new schedule. I think everybody is looking at that, still in limbo. The family is great, start traveling with me on the West Coast and that will be nice and they are young enough so I can tug them around, so it's not too much of an issue yet.
Q. Hunter said that you won't know you're burned out until it's too late.
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Yeah, it's going to be tough, especially with the holidays and the way that the new Tour schedule is set up, you're going to have some overlap of tournaments that you normally wouldn't play that you need to play and might affect the regular season. Some guys might take some more breaks in the middle of the year, summertime, in between the majors and that kind of stuff that they normally wouldn't do to make sure they are fresh for later in the year.
Q. Do you set goals for yourself each year?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Oh, yeah.
Q. Specific goals?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Obviously any time you have a team competition, Presidents Cup is a big goal of mine. Never played on one of those and I want to do, that especially with Freddie being the captain, pretty special. I think to start the year, my main goal is to make the FedEx Cup finale and Tour Championship, to get there and do, that you have to play some pretty great golf and win some tournaments. That's my main goal. Obviously majors are a big goaling into this year, a bunch of really good setups for me. I don't say my goal is to win a major, my goal is to get myself in contention to win a major. Did it last year at the British Open and want to try to do it a couple more times, a couple chances a year at it, so those are the main goals. Whether that happens or not, I don't know, but I feel like I can make those happen pretty easily.
Q. Of the majors, have you played Merion before?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I have not. I'm going up there end of March for a couple days and playing it. I've heard it's a great setup, old style golf course, and heard it's going to be a difficult week on everybody else but us, so it's a little tight. But looking forward to getting there.
Q. Why not go to Augusta at the end of March?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I've played there a bunch. I know that one pretty well.
Q. What's going on end of March?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I've just got a trip with some guys, going to go up there and play and just a way to get up and see the golf course so I'm not shocked when I get to the U.S. Open.
Q. Why do you think this year (you won't go to Augusta before)? -
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I just feel like Augusta, I feel like I know it well enough and I've played it enough to feel like I've got a good handle on that golf course. Merion is not a bomber's paradise. I think they are set up for guys like me who dink it around and keep it in play and don't do anything stupid. I've heard Muirfield is one of the best golf courses in the world and the best British Open you can play in, so I'm looking forward to get to go that one and Oak Hill is a course I've played a bunch and feel comfortable on and like and looking forward to getting up there.
Q. When did you play Oak Hill?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I played a bunch in college, just being up there in the northeast in the summertime playing amateur tournaments. My brother played the U.S. Am there, so I was up there watching him play there. I've been there a bunch.
Q. This sounds like a buddies trip to Merion.
BRANDT SNEDEKER: It is.
Q. Have you ever done that to a major venue?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I think I've done it a couple times to Augusta but the first time to a U.S. Open.
Q. When did this come together?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I know a guy who is a member and he had been trying to put it together for a while. We set it up as a way to go up there and have some fun, a guy I don't spend too much time with, and also a way for me to get some work done so worked out great. It's a rough trip but somebody's got to do it.
BRANDT SNEDEKER: March, April, somewhere in there. We have not exactly ironed out the dates yet but somewhere in there.
Q. Nine million cash is what you had when you left East Lake; do you have a document -
BRANDT SNEDEKER: No, I'll leave that to people who know what they are doing with it. I'm smart enough to know that I don't -
Q. Just look at it -
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Oh, yeah but put it this way, I never check my bank account statements and that's the first time I've checked it. (Laughter).
Q. What plans do you have with it?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: We've done a couple things. You know we started a foundation which is really near to my wife's heart and my heart, trying to help kids out in Nashville in different ways for different charities. That was a big thing we did that we are excited about. And then besides that, find out ways to use it to help that foundation out a lot and then not too much else with it.
Q. Brandt Snedeker foundation?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Brandt and Mandy Snedeker Foundation.
Q. Do you invest?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Do I invest?
Q. Did you invest the money?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I mean, that's getting a little personal to be honest with you. Do you invest your money?
Q. Stock options or -
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I'm not a stock guy. I have people who are a lot smarter than me who do it for a living.
Q. So you use somebody?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I do, yes. No, I'm not dumb enough to try to do it myself.
Q. One of your greatest qualities, you're from Vanderbilt -
BRANDT SNEDEKER: The way I look at it is I play golf for a living. I'm not smart enough to play golf and manage my own money. There's a bunch of people out there a lot smarter than I am who can do a lot better than I can, so why not find them and make sure they know what they are doing.
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Nice way of putting it, yeah.
Q. What did you learn from that?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I learned a lot from both of them. First of all, I learned that no matter - don't ever bet anybody, any money, on a golf course, judging by their golf swing. They both have ugly golf swings and they both can play really good golf. It's fun to watch them play and how they got around a golf course and how smart they were and how they have managed their game and that kind of stuff. It was good to get beat up by these guys, they were in their low to mid 40s and they were getting me on a regular basis, so know - that you have a long road to go.
Q. What are the differences experiences or lessons you take, compare that from Lytham last year and Augusta?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I think definitely at Lytham last year, if I had been the same player in 2008, I would have finished way worse. I probably would have finished 10th or 12th, because the wheels came off on the weekend and I didn't panic, didn't freak out, hung in there pretty well. Augusta, I wasn't prepared - I wasn't prepared to handle that kind of pressure late on a Sunday at Augusta. Didn't have the capacity, the memories, the experience to draw back on and know what to feel and how to handle it. I think at Lytham, did I have that experience and it helped me hang in there. I didn't win but I hung in there and could have had a chance minus a few poor swings of the driver. But I never felt out of place. I never felt uncomfortable like I did the first time around at Augusta.
Q. Twenty years ago, you probably would have had a great career and made -
BRANDT SNEDEKER: No, I don't think it will. It's tough because you can definitely wear yourself out really quickly playing a lot over seas and I any everybody has to find that happy medium for them. Some guys hate travel and I understand, there's times when I get to the airport and I can't believe I'm doing it and then I get there and I realize it's worth it and it's okay. I like traveling. I like seeing the world. I love playing golf elsewhere. That's who I am. I'm going to travel probably three or four times a year and play overseas. There will come a time in my life where I can't do that when the kids are in high school, and now, they are young, my daughter can do it and I can handle it.
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I didn't do it last year. I normally try to do it probably once every couple years. This year I'll probably go.
Q. What's your favorite place to go?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I love Japan. I love the food over there. I love the people, they are great. Love Australia, New Zealand. No language barrier there. I can understand them at least, they might not understand me. But those are probably my favorite. But there's a lot of places I haven't been. I haven't done a lot in Europe yet, besides the British Open, so looking forward to trying to a little moreover that. My wife is always trying to get me to go over there.
Q. Bubba can show you around France.
BRANDT SNEDEKER: No comment.
Q. Obviously last year, The Ryder Cup experience - what's your thoughts on Tom Watson, someone of that stature being a captain?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I'm obviously a big Tom Watson fan, so I personally can't wait for him to be captain. I think it will be awesome to be on his team. You don't have the chance of playing on somebody of that generation's team, a guy my age. Tom in the 70s was dominant, Jack Nicklaus, people of that era, it would be like Jack being captain again of a Ryder Cup team. I'm excited, especially it being over there, links style golf - I know Gleneagles isn't typically a links style golf, but it will be cool to be over there with him, having him lead us and spend more time with him. Even though I know him pretty well I haven't spent a ton of time with him so it will be interesting to get to know him a little bit and see what he has to help us.
Q. Talking about the pressure how would that compare to the Ryder Cup?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Different. Completely different kind of pressure. Medinah was the most pressure I've ever felt under any circumstances on any golf course of, just because it was - it's a team atmosphere, plays a big part of. It being on U.S. soil - I think it would have been easier for me to be European my first time than American soil, because you feel like you want to hit every shot perfect and make a bunch of putts and get the crowd going and get roars going, and you end up trying too hard and getting in your own way. Feel like I kind of did that pretty much every time I teed it up, so something I learned from that experience. But the pressure was just immense. Played with Jim, probably the best partner you could dial up for me. I watched him hit a big snap hook off the first tee the first day and I thought, at least he feels the same way I do, that's good to know. So after that, we were okay.
Q. The second hole of your first Ryder Cup, a little bit of a confrontation on the green, what kind of moment was that?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: It was interesting to say the least, but it was good. Lets you know that it's a friendly competition, but you're also you're just trying to beat each other, and Jim and I thought they were trying to use the rules to their advantage a little too much, and Jim did a great job of stepping in there and let them know that we didn't agree with it.
Q. What was going through your mind?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I'm kind of laughing. I'm talking to Graeme and Graeme is talking to Rory and I'm like, what are y'all trying to do. It's the second hole of the day, come on, get off to a nice easy start, trying to start and get going, and he's like, I know, I don't know what's going to happen here. It was funny, a weird situation, second hole of the day, holding everybody up, 30 minute ruling - figured it was going to be an unfriendly match the rest of the day after that but it was okay, everybody got over it. It was fine.
Q. Do you think when most people, golf fans, see Ian Poulter go by, what's the first description you think of?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I think the first thing that comes in is competitor, a Ryder Cup hero. That's what he is. The way he plays in that Ryder Cup is unbelievable. To do what he did, the last couple Ryder Cups, not just this Ryder Cup; he's pretty much, I can't remember the last time he's lost in a Ryder Cup. So it's a pretty crazy thing what he can do in the Ryder Cup. It's kind of defined who he is. Most guys get defined by majors, winning a bunch of golf tournaments. But Ian Poulter has used the Ryder Cup to define who he is, his legacy, it's pretty special. He's able to dial up his best golf under that kind of pressure.
Q. What about you, walking down the fairway tomorrow, someone says, Brandt Snedeker, he's the guy who ... -
BRANDT SNEDEKER: You got me. Probably the guy who won the FedEx Cup last year. About the only thing you can say. Guy that is walking fast and playing fast and talking fast.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.