Whenever Brandt Snedeker is going well
he looks like the kind of player who should be in contention every
The action looks so simple and
repeatable. And his putting stroke is just the same in miniature –
brisk and positive.
On Friday at the Open Championship he
was at his very best. While all around him struggled to make any
progress through the field, he was following his opening 66 with
another birdie blitz. The result was a blemish-free 64 as he tied
Nick Faldo's 36-hole Open record low aggregate of 130.
He has not yet found any of Lytham's
Snedeker opened with a two at the 1st,
just as he had on Friday, then added another three birdies on his way
out in a meagre 30 strokes.
That was 27 holes completed without a
single dropped shot – not bad in a championship where it seems
birdies can found but trouble can not be avoided for long.
On the back nine it was more of the
same – birdies at 11 and 12 followed by six straight pars to
finish. Even when he missed the last fairway and had to hack out, a
wedge to 10 feet and a sure putt saved par.
“I'm sure everybody in this room is
in about as much shock as I am right now,” said Snedeker. “But I
feel good. I call it boring golf. I'm shooting away from every pin,
trying to put it 25, 30 feet away and hopefully make some putts,
which I've done the first two days and hopefully plan on doing the
next few days.”
Some may remember Snedeker finishing
3rd at the Masters in 2008, an event he led at one point,
before Trevor Immelman came through to beat him. After a final-round
77, Snedeker, from Nashville, Tennessee, broke down in tears.
That, he says, gives an inaccurate
impression of his character.
“I'm probably the most level-headed
guy you'll see play on tour. I never make a shot out of anger or make
a shot because I'm not playing good. I kind of do the same thing
every time. When I hit a shot, I might do some funny body language
or something like that, that's just me trying to help it any way I
Snedeker does have a win to his name
this year, back in January at the Farmers Insurance on the PGA Tour
but his Open record until this week was not exactly stellar.
As a child he grew up with Tom Watson
as his hero and it was the five-time champion he turned to for a
practice round on his Open debut at Birkdale four years ago.
You can see some similarities between
the two in terms of the briskness of swing and general speed of
decision-making and play.
“It helped a bunch playing with him.
“He told me the first time over here he wasn't a big fan of links
golf. The second time he played he loved it. You've got to kind of
embrace it, realise that you're going to get good bounces, bad
bounces, but you don't really – expect the worst and hope for the
This is the 31-year-old's fourth
appearance and he has never previously made it to the weekend. After
Birkdale in 2008, he played at Turnberry a year later and Sandwich
Only once had he even matched par and
he was a cumulative 25 over par for his six rounds.
“I love being over here,” he said.
“I played a British Am over here a long time ago when I was in
college. I enjoy the lifestyle over here. I enjoy the golf. It's
funny I've never played good, because I like being over here and
having a good time with it.”
Nor has he been in especially
impressive form of late. He has not finished in the top 10 of a
strokeplay event since his dramatic win at Torrey Pines, when he took
advantage of Kyle Stanley's late collapse to win a play-off.
He currently sits 19th in
qualifying for the American Ryder Cup team.
Now he is ideally positioned to become
the 15thsuccessive different Major winner and 10th
successive first-time Major champion.
The former record dates back to Padraig
Harrington wining the 2008 Open and PGA. The latter to Phil
Mickelson's victory at the 2010 Masters.
“I've got a cushion, which is nice,”
he said. “I don't have to play the best golf over the next 36
“I have to play good golf, but maybe
not the best of anybody. So that's always nice to have. That being
said, I'm going to go out there and try to do the exact same things I
did the first two days and hit a bunch of greens and make a bunch of
putts and try to extend my lead as far as possible.”