Brandt Snedeker: The Wisdom of $11.44 Million

Brandt Snedeker proved that he could win from the front in Sunday’s final round at the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. And since he was one of the “golden five” in points coming in, because he won the tournament, he also won the FedExCup and the $10 million that went with it.

It’s just unbelievable.  You know, it’s — you don’t think about what’s going to happen after today, after the round.  It was a full round today.  But you go out there and play that round of golf, with that kind of pressure on that tough of a golf course and to go through the adversity I had to go through, hitting the ball in the water [on the 6th] and making a double bogey early and fighting my way back.

You know, this is what you work your whole life for.  I look at all the putts I’ve hit and all the shots I’ve hit all through my life, it’s just unbelievable the ability to stay calm today.  It just came through.  I was so calm last night, I couldn’t believe it.  Just, I’m very rarely speechless, but this is about as close as I get to speechless.

That he found such calm was extraordinary because in Saturday’s media room session he acknowledged that he was “a jumpy guy to say the least.”

The key milestone in the “work-in” process at any level of golf is to realize that you have finally arrived; that you belong.

How does this identify you as a player?

I don’t know.  I mean, that’s what your all’s job is for, I guess.  I think it solidifies what I already know, and I think when I play my best golf, my best golf is some of the best in the world.

You know, I’ve never had more confidence in myself than I have the last five weeks, and I made sure that I kept telling myself that all day.  I am one of the best players in the world.  This is supposed to happen.  It’s okay to feel nervous, and no matter what I feel today, everybody else in the field feels exactly the same way I do.  So go out there and get it done. I did a great job of that.

And, of course, the best lessons in life are the ones that are transferable.

That air of calm that you have today, how easy will it be to summon that next week when you make your Ryder Cup debut?  And how much will today help you as far as that is concerned?

I’m not under any illusion of being calm next week.  I know it’s going to be a very pressure‑packed week.  But I am going to use today as a huge thing to fall back on next week.  I played against the best in the world this week for 72 holes and I beat them.

So nothing’s going to happen next week that’s going to change that fact.  So I’m going to use it as confidence.  I’m playing the best golf of my career.  The last four weeks I’ve been playing a bunch, which has been great.  And I look forward to getting up there next week and playing some even better golf.

One of the things he said that he was not going to do on Sunday was look at the leaderboards. He felt that to do so would take his attention away from his primary goal for the day, to shoot the lowest score that he could.

Did you catch yourself scoreboard watching?

I didn’t look at the scoreboard all day.  I had no clue where I was or what I was doing.  My only goal today was to shoot as low as I possibly could, and that’s what I did.

No good comes out of me looking at the leaderboard.  I get too amped up.  I get too complacent if I’m ahead, or trying to push too much if I’m behind.  So I try to play the same way I would if I had a five‑shot lead or a five shot deficit.

One of the downsides of trying to constantly “get better” is that you risk tinkering with a golf game that is already sufficient.

You said that you’ve never been as confident as you have in the last five weeks.  Was there something that happened?  A moment?  A shot?  A tournament?

At the PGA, we had a terrible PGA and played awful, and I felt like I was playing good. [My coach, my caddie and I] sat down and went over everything, my stats, where I ranked, what was going on, and what needed to be changed.  We realized that nothing needed to be changed.  Everything was fine.

Just to believe in myself a hundred percent no matter what happens.  The tougher the courses get, typically, the better I play, to play to my strengths.  My strength is my short game, my putting.  This week I drove the ball great, and that’s why I won.

But I made a lot of great up‑and‑downs when I needed to today, made some key putts and the more I played to that, funny enough, the better I played.

And what about the elephant in the room?

[What about] the extra pressure of playing for $10 million.  Is that something that was on top of everything else?

Not at all.  I was so worried about trying to beat Justin to win the Tour Championship today.  I was not thinking about the $10 million at all until the last hole, and I hit an awful shot.  So that shows you what that does for you.

I know you talked about you don’t leaderboard watch.  Did you know where you stood though on 18?

No.

You had no idea?

I knew I had a good lead.  I figured Justin [Rose] was in second because I hadn’t heard any roars in front of me.  And I figured I had a good, comfortable lead.  My caddie wanted me to hit 4‑iron in there and hit it short, and me being the guy that I am said, no, it’s not going to get there.  I need a cut hybrid; and I hit it dead straight [into the grandstands] and 30 yards too far.  That’s why you have a big lead.

One of the building blocks for him was his performance at this year’s British Open. He had two rounds in the 60s to lead Adam Scott by one, and then two rounds in the 70s to slip from contention. But he hung in there and still managed to finish T3 and it was a great lesson for him.

Did you find your experience at the British Open helpful today?

I kind of lean back on past experiences, for sure.  I looked back at the British, and this morning kind of came to the golf course.  I thought about how great that was for my pressure, handling the pressure, and being in a situation like that.  Even though I didn’t play particularly great, I hung in there very, very well.  It could have gotten really ugly on the weekend, and it didn’t.

So I knew that by just hanging in there today, just stay patient.  You hear me say that a hundred times, just stay patient.  This golf course wants you to become impatient.

Got a couple of good breaks out there, and I stayed patient.  The double bogey on 6 didn’t even bother me.  I mean, it was a hard hole.  I knew guys would make mistakes there.  That’s why you play great to overcome that.

At what point today did you perhaps have the toughest time staying patient out there?

I caught myself on 15, the par‑5 after hitting the fairway.  I caught myself kind of jumping forward.  Thinking of what this would mean to win, and the FedExCup and all that stuff.  I literally almost hit myself in the face and said boy, we’ve got a ton of golf left.  We’ve got a bunch of hard holes left.  Get back into what you’re supposed to be doing.

And that shot on the par‑5 was huge.  It got me that birdie that I needed, and I hit a great shot in there for the first time this week, and got a reward for it.

It’s been a difficult testing week for you.  What’s the one thing you’ve really learned most about yourself and how you’ve handled this whole experience?

That I’m a lot better under pressure than I gave myself credit for.  I learned that over the last four weeks.  I’ve had a lot of pressure the last four weeks and a bunch of different stuff going on in my life.  To be able to focus in and do what I did was pretty impressive.

And that is one of the greatest benefits of playing the game of golf. Every once in a while — and sometimes for longer stretches at a time — you discover that you really are as great as you thought you were.

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