Brandt Snedeker: The week after a win and the formal planning that goes into it

Brandt Snedeker rolled into Scottsdale for the Waste Management Phoenix Open after a tortuous win at the Farmers Insurance Open in La Jolla, California. He managed to finish his round in pretty good shape on Sunday, but was relegated to waiting for the rest of the field to finish. Unfortunately, a huge wind and rain storm shut down play for the day and he had to wait until Monday afternoon. I was curious what that was like for him.

Q. How did you manage Sunday night? What was that like for you?

BRANDT SNEDEKER: Awful. It was absolutely awful. It was worse — I have had the lead on Sunday going into the Masters and I slept better than I did that night. I don’t know why. It was completely out of my control. Literally the elements were everything. If I had elements on Monday, I had a chance to win. If I didn’t, I didn’t have a chance to win.

It was just a completely helpless feeling. I know how my family feels all the time when they watch me now. I know how everyone’s family feels now when they watch it now and how brutal it is to watch and have no control.  Continue reading

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Brooks Koepka: On his vagabond days in Europe and 3-iron testing

Brooks Keopka was in the Waste Management Phoenix Open media center, a privileged obligation of the defending champion, and the result of Brook’s “Excellent Adventure” on the European mini-tour. The theory, still currently practiced by young American PGA Tour aspirants, is to go play in Europe where the conditions are rougher and the fields not as accomplished. They do this in order to accumulate World Ranking points that would get them to the Tour without going through the do-or-die American Q-School process and subsequent one-year apprenticeship on the Web.com Tour. I had a chance to ask him about it.

Q. I was fascinated a couple years ago to read about your adventures over in Europe going to the tournaments that were way out in the middle of nowhere. What kind of temperament do you have to have to be able to do something like that, and how has it helped you now that you’re back on the American tour?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Well, it’s helped. Everything is easier over here, obviously. You know where to eat, you know where to go. If you’re bored, you know there might be a game you can catch. TV is in English [with the raise of his eyebrows]. Stuff like that. It’s a lot easier.

Over there, it was fun. It helped me grow up a lot. I think I grew up a lot in those two years. It is kind of lonely, I’m not gonna lie. You have to be by yourself a lot.  Continue reading

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Billy Horschel: Working on the same stuff I am

Billy Horschel won the biggest purse in golf when he simultaneously won the 2014 Tour Championship and the year long race for the FedExCup. A mere $11.44 million for a lifetime of hard work. He gave his caddie a $1 million bonus and left $10,000 for the locker room attendants.

I came across him practicing on the range Tuesday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and he seemed to be a little lost. The reason I know is that for the forty-five minutes I watched him, he was working on the same thing I’ve been working on in my own swing: keeping his right elbow close to his body on his back swing. He does that well in the above video from 2013.

Curt Byrum, the announcer in the video, credits Horschel’s coach, Todd Anderson, for this beautiful swing. But Tuesday he and Anderson were searching for it again. How could that happen to such a great player?  Continue reading

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Olin Browne: On playing on the fly

Olin Browne had a good first round in the Charles Schwab Cup. He managed to post an early 4-under 66 at the Desert Mountain Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, good enough to warrant a trip into the media center.

Browne’s is a name we’ve known for a long time. His PGA Tour career began in 1992, winning three times. He moved on to the Champions Tour in 2009, winning twice including once this year and, most impressive, the 2011 U.S. Senior Open. So he knows more than a little bit about what it takes to keep a round going when a round isn’t going like you’d want it to.

He said that he didn’t start out all that great and I wanted to understand how he turned that into a 66.   Continue reading

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Bernhard Langer: On how he’s going back to the short putter

Bernhard Langer has been one of the most dissatisfied players with the USGA’s decision to ban anchored putting, anchoring the top of the putter grip to the body as a stabilizing fulcrum against the yips.

But the time to make his case has come and gone to no avail. And so now he begins the next chapter in his efforts to beat the yips and continue his storied career.

I had a chance to talk to him about his plans in the media room at the Charles Schwab Cup at the Desert Mountain Club in Scottsdale, Arizona.   Continue reading

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Michael Allen: Doing just fine, thank you

Michael Allen got off to a great start in Saturday’s third round of the Charles Schwab Cup. He was 4-under through 8 on the Cochise course at Desert Mountain Club in Scottsdale, Arizona. At some point in there, he extended his opening two-shot lead to six. He bogeyed 9 and then got it back on 11. Real commercial golf. And somewhere in there, Lanny Watkins observed that Allen was beginning to show the nerves of having never quite been in that position before.

It didn’t look like that to me. To me, it just looked like the ups and downs of golf; you’re pretty much always going to make a bogey or two.

So when Allen suddenly started looking like it was nerves with a double on 12, a bogey on the short par-3 13th and the par-5 15th — the latter with an incredible topped shot that dribbled into the water hazard — it began to look like he was, indeed, succumbing to the pressure.   Continue reading

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Bernhard Langer: Faith when things go wrong

After Bernard Langer’s seemingly inevitable charge to the top of the Charles Schwab Cup standings on Thursday, preliminary preparations began for the coronation on Sunday. He rendered the Cochise course at the Desert Mountain Club in Scottsdale, Arizona almost defenseless with his 7-under 63. And that was with two of the par-5s converted to par-4s. It doesn’t much matter where it is, 63 on a par 70 course is exceptional. Just like Langer has been all year long.

Friday was different. He still gutted out a respectable 68, but that was with three bogeys. The ball just didn’t seem to have eyes like it did on Thursday. This was a very professional holding action, but the coronation plans were placed on hold by Michael Allen’s 64 with a flashy birdie/eagle finish to vault into a 2-shot lead. Langer will still be in the last group with Allen, but the day begged the question of contrasting faith in those two situations.   Continue reading

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Bernhard Langer: On finding peace on the golf course

Thursday’s first round of the Charles Schwab Cup at the Desert Mountain Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, opened with Colin Montgomerie in first place for the cup point race, Jeff Maggert in second and — cue the shark music from Jaws — Bernhard Langer in third. They are the only ones with a chance.

Montgomerie and Maggert were paired in the last group, Langer in the next to last. Montgomerie didn’t move the needle until he made bogey on the 8th. Maggert bogeyed the 1st, got it back on the 5th and made double on the 7th.

Meanwhile, Langer birded the 2nd and then went on a four-birdie run beginning on the 5th. At that point the media center was buzzing with the seeming inevitability of a really good round, the Cup race turned upside down. He got to 7-under through 13 and then cruised to the finish with a couple of tidy sand saves.

When he was finally able to get into the media center he looked centered: calm, very relaxed and with easy eye movement. When it was my turn to ask a question, I went right to the thing I was most interested in, how he was able to turn in such an easy looking round.   Continue reading

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Jeff Maggert: On the value of compliments

I find Jeff Maggert very interesting. The guy was on the PGA Tour uninterrupted from 1990 and made $19 million in the process. He’s won four times this year on the Champions Tour including the U.S. Senior Open. Call him the quiet man. And there was an unlikely catalyst in 1989 who helped all of that happen: Curtis Strange.

Strangely enough, I was in Australia [before he made it to the PGA Tour], it was 4 Tee-Scripts.com probably 1989 and I was paired with Curtis Strange the last round of a tournament. We were both right near the lead…At the end I think I finished third and he signed my card and he kind of flipped it over to me and he said, “You know what? You’re the best American player I’ve never heard of.”

But you’ve got to know Curtis and it was actually, it was a compliment and it really made me feel good because here at the time two-time U.S. Open back-to-back winner tells me that I’m the best American player that he’s never heard of. That was his way of giving a compliment and it really gave me confidence that I’m going to be good enough to get on the tour eventually.

It is a very powerful thing to say two sentences to a man who then parlays that into a career.   Continue reading

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Charles Schwab Cup: Scenes from another startup

Once again the best players in the world over 50 years old have descended on the Desert Mountain Club in Scottsdale, Arizona to bring closure to the Champions Tour’s 2015 year. Full disclosure: I’m a homer, I live here. So I have a huge welling in my heart when I think of the rest of the world being able to see our beautiful, six-course club, all of them designed by Jack Nicklaus.

Not only that, I have a soft spot in my heart for the Champions Tour having spent nine years trying to Monday qualify my way to glory. That included 124 Mondays and 8 Q-Schools. Actually, it wasn’t personal glory I was after, it was to demonstrate the efficacy of certain human potential principles (see my About tab). And, it turned out, my surprise discovery of God’s hand in my life: directly beneficial things kept happening to me that I was not trying to produce.

And so, as I look at how the Champions Tour has matured into a highly competitive display of golf at its best, I write about these guys from the perspective of a player who’s been there…almost. Until you see this evolved tour in person, you can’t really appreciate just how good they are. Do they hit is as far as the PGA Tour studs? No. But they all hit it far enough and with a display of the strategic skills required to “get it around.”   Continue reading

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