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'Exhausted' Snedeker to Take Break after Sizzling Start to Season
Brandt Snedeker deserves some time off. In five tournaments this year, the Nashville native has recorded two runner-up finishes, a third-place finish and a victory, the latter coming Sunday in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
His hot start has given the reigning FedEx Cup champion a sizable lead in the 2013 FedEx Cup points' standings and official earnings of $2,859,920, nearly $1.7 million more than second-place Phil Mickelson. Snedeker's win at Pebble Beach also moved him from sixth to fourth in the world golf rankings.
Snedeker will not play in next week's Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. The 32-year-old will instead head to Hawaii for a break before returning to action for the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, which begins February 20 at the Golf Club at Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz.
"I'm pretty exhausted," he told reporters Sunday evening. "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 ready to go."
The AT&T victory was the fifth of his career. His biggest win to date came at last year's season-ending Tour Championship, which vaulted him to the FedEx Cup title - and its $10 million bonus - and set him on a course for what could become a wildly successful 2013. All that's missing is a major, which Snedeker is primed to pursue.
After signing for his closing 7-under 65 and accepting the $1.152 million winner's check, Snedeker met with reporters and discussed his recent performances and what the Pebble Beach win means to him. As a bonus, he - and amateur partner Toby Wilt - finished at 31-under par, tying for first in the pro-am portion of the tournament with touring pro Michael Letzing and his amateur partner, John Erickson.
Here's what Snedeker said to the media in a post-round Q&A.
MODERATOR: Like to welcome Brandt Snedeker, big win this week coming off back to back second place finishes, just kind of talk about what's going through your minds right now and then we'll have a few questions.
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Yeah, 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. Just hard to put into words, to have a stretch of golf like I had the last couple months, something you dream about; something you think that you can do, but you don't know really know until you actually put it together, and I have. To be sitting here after two runner ups and winning this week is a really special feeling. I'm really enjoying this and hopefully can parlay this into the best year of my career.
Q. To finish second the last couple weeks, how much do you think that helped this week?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: 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. Birdieing 17 was huge today and to have that two shot lead walking down 18 is a lot different than having a one shot lead. So that was a big shot at the right time and to make that putt was very special to me.
Q. I had another question but made me think of something which I can check looked like some of your putts, 14 on, not tentative but you said you didn't want to do anything stupid -
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Correct.
Q. How do you flip the switch on 17 to play it aggressively?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I had a bunch of putts that could get away from me; if I got too aggressive, they could go four or five feet by the hole and 17 was the first putt I had, since it seemed like 10 or 11 that was up the hill, be really aggressive with, take the break out of and give it a good chance to go. I kept telling myself: You have to do this at some point. You are going to have to make a putt to give yourself some leeway coming down the last hole, and it doesn't get much easier than that: Dead straight up the hill from ten feet; those are the kind of putts you need to make.
Q. Given all of the attention that was on you, did you almost feel like you had everything to lose here, pressure?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: 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. I just knew it was going to happen or 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.
Q. There are Americans who are known for being prodigies with 75 titles, for being the people's champion, for being a flashy dresser; what do you want to be known for?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I've got no clue. That's a great question. I don't know what I want to be known for. I would love to be known as the best American golfer. I've got a long way to go to do that, but this is a great start to the year. Couldn't have scripted much of a better one, except for maybe winning the last two weeks if the guys hadn't played, would have been nice. This is a great way to come back from that and a great four round of golf this week. I played solid every day and didn't give away too many shots. This is what I'm capable of, so I'm looking forward to putting on more on display the rest of the year.
Q. You said you know guys are going to go out and do well the first six holes. Can you talk about the second shot on No. 2 and also No. 6?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Yeah, those are obviously par 5s, very reachable, need to give yourself a putt for eagle; if not, you're going to leave yourself with an easy birdie chip. Hit a great 4 iron on 2 just left of the hole, rolled up to four feet or whatever it was and was kind of lucky but it was a good shot and to end up where it did was a great way to start the day. 6, I hit a 3 wood there yesterday and ended up exact same spot today and had a great mental picture of what I needed to do and where I needed to land it and I pulled it off, and it rolled up there 15, 20 feet from the hole, and it was a great way to get the round going. It could have bounced any way from there. It didn't hit on the green so any time you're not landing on the green; it could skip funny or not release. Sometimes you need a break like that to get a round going.
Q. Can you describe the satisfaction of all the hard work and how it's come to fruition right now for you?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: 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 (ph) end up being pretty good at the end of the day.
Feels great to finish one. The last two weeks, playing great but running into two Hall of Fames really motivated me to go out that I can play good and handle the lead. I love being in this position and today was a lot of fun.
Q. What really has been the key?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I'm just not making too many mistakes, I'm playing smart golf and I'm not putting myself in too many bad positions, and make a key putt here or there to get the round going. It's been a lot of fun to play golf like this and the way I know that I can.
Q. You were out yesterday and today at Pebble Beach with your partner, Toby, and I noticed that you were really spending time with him out there, I know you know one another, but I think that shows an awful lot about you that you're not so much worried about trying to win this golf tournament.
BRANDT SNEDEKER: You think about how many times he's going to have to play in the last group in the Pebble Beach Pro Am, such a unique experience and such a cool things to be inside the ropes on a Sunday and also have your tournament and to win that as a partnership this year with a close friend is something we'll remember for the rest of our lives.
Q. Did that help you today?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: It did. He's a very calming influence out there today. He didn't help me one shot but he did a lot of cheering today and kept me very calm.
Q. How drained are from you this run and how do you recharge and sustain it?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: 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 ready to go.
Q. How much of a welcome distraction was Toby out there today? Some guys would be in their own world but you were still -
BRANDT SNEDEKER: It was great. We played hundreds of rounds of golf together. He knew what to say when I was kind of hurting and not playing my best, and he knew what to say when I was playing great and we had a lot of fun talking about everything but what we were doing, and that's what you need out there. You need somebody to keep your mind off what's going on and focus when you need to. We've played so many rounds of golf together and I kept thinking of how special it would be if we could win this as a team, because I'm sure he had a great time today playing in the last group of a PGA Tour event watching me. But I want to make sure that we both walked out of here with a trophy, our goal was to walk out with two trophies today and for us to do that was a very special thing.
Q. Was there a moment today -
BRANDT SNEDEKER: He gave me a few comic relief out there which was nice, hit a few poor shots he's sitting over there (laughing). Nothing really stood out, just talking in general up the fairway, you need somebody to joke to about stuff other than golf.
BRANDT SNEDEKER: He called it room service, so whenever I make a putt or do something like, that he says room service, room service and runs up - I'm trying to preserve my energy. I guess it's too much energy for me to get down there and get up.
Q. You made reference to not hitting the ball long and the stats obviously bear that out. How much pressure does it put on the rest of your game? It's difficult I would think to win out here on in general and majors without hitting it long?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: 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. 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.
Q. You said you wanted to become the No. 1 player in America; with that comes a certain amount of notoriety. Around here, people recognize you, but can you still walk down the street and people recognize you?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: No problems at all. I hope it stays that way. I guess if I was to live out my dream, I'm going to have to become somewhat of a well known person if I want to be known as the best golfer in the world. But I have no problem walking down the streets at all. People leave me alone. It's great.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about playing with James (Hahn) today and if anything was said between you guys at all?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: You know, we talked a little bit. James is a great kid - great kid; he's one year younger than me. He looks like a kid. He looks 18 years old. But he's got a ton of talent. I know it's a difficult situation for him to be in the last group for the first time like this and how to handle the emotions and everything that's going on and I thought he played pretty well. He handled himself very well out there today. I was kind of more focused on what I was doing. But we had a good time chatting a few times. I know he's close to getting in next week; I hope he gets in next week and keeps this run going.
Q. How hard was it for you or how much of a process to accept who you are as a golfer and not try to be what you aren't?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: 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.
Q. In terms of maybe trying to get up to No. 1, how much was Luke an inspiration, to get there as long as he did?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Luke gives us hope, guys that don't bomb it, because he did it. And he did it by simply being the most consistent player in the world. He won a budge the last few years. He's still one of the best players in the world. He still can get back to No. 1 but Luke showed it can be done and that you don't have to bomb it to be the No. 1 player in the world. You have to do everything really well and he gave us the blueprint of how you do it. You just have to follow that.
Q. The way you talk about your ball striking, I don't know if you're being modest or not, but do you feel like you strike it well enough?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Oh, when I say I'm not a great ball striker. You know, you watch Tiger Woods or Fred Couples or Tom Watson hit a golf ball, and it sounds different; hits the center of the bat every time and never miss it. I'm not one of those kind of players. When I get on like I have been for the last four or five weeks, I can hit it very solid and don't miss too many shots. But I get off, too. So those guys are what I call elite ball strikers. I'm just not one of those elite ball strikers - yet, I'm working on it, you never know.
Q. How much has it improved in the last calendar -
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Dramatically, dramatically in the last three years.
Q. Curious, being able to reach your goal as far as being a top American golfer, wouldn't hurt to wear a green jacket one day, and you came so close; how do you think it's going to be different this year going to Augusta with the confidence that you have?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: It will be very different. I've gone there in the past thinking I can contend, and this year I'm going in knowing that I can contend and knowing that winning is not a farfetched idea. It's very much a reality. And to do that, I've got to do the same stuff I've done this week and the last three weeks, be very simple, do the small stuff really well, that kind of stuff. But I go in there with a ton of confidence. I know that if I play the way I played the last three weeks that there's very few people in the world that can beat me, and I will relish that challenge being there Sunday trying to beat the best player in the world or whoever it may be down the back nine at Augusta. That's something I look forward to instead of dreading maybe four years ago.
Q. Early in the round, the save on 3, how important was that?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: It was nice. Had a great second shot and just misjudged the wind a little bit. You don't get that up and down, and you know you kind of give one away and all of a sudden you lose your momentum. I thought that was a big putt. I thought the birdie on 10 was huge, after three putting nine the way I did, and giving one back and seeing what could happen, 10 is a dangerous hole. To make that 30 footer across the green really gave me a lot of confidence and let me know things were going to be okay.
Q. In terms it of making the birdie on 17 and having to wait before tee off; is there a better place to wait than the 18th tee at Pebble?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: There's not much better place to be on the planet with a two shot lead on that tee box. It was a nice feeling. One shot lead would have been a completely different story but that two shot lead, it felt pretty special there.
Q. What are you doing in Hawaii?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Vacation.
MODERATOR: Thanks for your time, Brandt, and we'll see you in a couple weeks.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.