Brandt Snedeker had the luxury of playing great on the day that it mattered most. With a 7-under 65, he was able to run away and win the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am by two shots over Chris Kirk who shot his own 66.
Snedeker did it by laying out a plan and then playing well enough to stick to it; he had only one bogey when he 3-putted the 9th.
His plan was to go after the first six holes because of their vulnerability; he eagled 2 and birdied 4 and 6. Then to do what he could on the middle holes; he was 2-under with three birdies. And finally try to pick off 17 and 18; he birdied 17.
It’s been a crazy day, to go out there and start the way I did and play those first six holes which I knew would be important at I think 4‑under par was huge.
He was driven by his recent good play that got him seconds at Torrey Pines and Phoenix:
It helped a lot. It certainly made me uncomplacent. I definitely didn’t want to do anything but win today. I was out there for one purpose and one purpose only, and I was extremely focused all day. I did a great job of staying patient and I did a great job of playing the golf course the way you’re supposed to play it.
And it certainly helped when he became convinced that he was going to win on Sunday and so he never felt any “everything-to-lose” pressure:
No, not at all. I felt like I had nothing to lose. I’ve gotten off to a great start this year, I had not won yet but I had complete faith I was going to, whether it was today, or next week or the week after.
I was very calm today. I was not jumpy at all. I had a complete — same feeling I had at East Lake [when he won the Tour Championship and the FedExCup]. I just knew it was going to happen, [not] how or why or what I was going to have to shoot; I just had a good feeling that today was going to be my day.
And that sense of calm prevailed on each and every one of his shots. While he has a fast tempo, his swing is a well-metered, accelerating motion from his right side to the left that exudes freedom.
And his performance gave him a great deal of satisfaction and a humble sense of proportion:
I’m one of the few people in this world that get to live out their dream every day.
And it seems like over the last three months, I’ve been waking up in a dream world, and it’s been pretty unbelievable. To win the golf tournaments I’ve won and in contention as much as I have, you know, probably with not very much fanfare and people thinking, I don’t hit the ball very long, I’m not the best ball‑striker. I just kind of — somehow all my pars end up being pretty good at the end of the day.
The only way that all of this transpired was that he was able to just be present on each and every shot. But to be so thoroughly engrossed in something like that can be mentally exhausted:
I’m pretty exhausted. Today the last nine holes was a struggle to stay focused. I didn’t show very much emotion. I didn’t kind of — I was in my own little world. I knew I was exhausted and knew I needed to really, really focus on doing the small stuff well.
I need to get away for a couple of days. You know, we are supposed to go to Hawaii this week, which is going to be great week for us, and kind of recharge the battery and come to Tucson [WGC-Match Play] ready to go.
He finished T41 in Driving Distance at 277 yards. But he’s not all that concerned about that and his attitude could help many a golfer be more accepting of their shortcomings:
Well, there’s two ways to look at it. I don’t hit it very long, so when I miss it, I don’t hit it very far off line. And when I do drive it, I can drive it pretty well. So if I keep it in play, I keep it in front of me [a good visualization for anyone]. Guys that hit it a long way, it is a huge advantage, but if you’re off a little bit, it’s a big disadvantage.
You’ve got to accept who you are, accept what kind of golfer you are, play the best you can with what you’ve got. And I think distance is great, I love seeing guys hit it far. I wish I could hit it farther but I think I’m okay doing it the way I’m doing it right now.
But just how difficult is it to be accepting?
That’s the hardest thing, probably one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with is my rookie year out here. I thought I could hit the ball far and you get out here and you realize you can’t. There’s a lot of guys hit it a lot farther than do I.
And I started trying to model my game after guys that played like me: The Steve Strickers, the David Toms and the Jim Furyks. The more time I spent watching those guys play golf, the more I realized what I need to do to compete on a worldwide level.
I give those guys a lot of credit because I watched them do it day‑in and day‑out for like the last five years. You watch those guys pick their way around a golf course and the way they play and what their strengths are and what they need to focus on.
So it really kind of inspired me to go that way instead of watching Tiger and Phil and Dustin and all those guys bomb it, I was watching Jim and Steve and David Toms and those guys the way they have made their careers.
That was a nice acknowledgement of his role models, but completely consistent with James Hahn’s sense of him. He was paired with Snedeker in the final group and finished T3, which will probably get him into LA:
I learned that he is a better guy than he is a golfer. The dude is world class. He’s obviously one of the best, if not the best golfer right now, and possibly for the last year.
But how he conducts himself as a person on and off the golf course, that’s also world class. He’s a great role model, and just unbelievable golfer and he deserved to win today.
If Snedeker ever gets to read Hahn’s comments, he’s the kind of guy who would think them more valuable than all of the money he won on Sunday.