Snedeker Ready to Go at Players Championship


Brandt Snedeker will be in the marquee pairing Thursday when the $9.5 million Players Championship tees off at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

The 32-year-old Nashville native will be playing alongside No. 1-ranked Tiger Woods and defending champion Matt Kuchar. The trio will start at 1:49 ET on the first hole of the Pete Dye-designed course.

Like Woods, Snedeker voiced his opinion about viewers calling in when they believe the spot a golf rules infraction. Woods noted Tuesday that only golf has such an influential interaction with TV viewers - "I don't ever see myself calling in and saying that Kobe (Bryant of the NBA's LA Lakers) traveled or things like that or some guy held - an offensive lineman held, but it's our sport," he said.

Snedeker agreed with Woods, but perhaps in a more vociferous manner. "I think we're the only sport where fans can actually dictate some of the action if they see something going on. I don't know how far down that road we want to go. I don't think there is any place for it," he told reporters during his own Q&A Tuesday.

"I don't think it's fair to some guys and not fair to other guys and I just don't think it's - I don't know. I feel like I'm getting called to the principal's office. You know, I just don't feel like it's the way the game of golf is supposed to be played for us out here, to be under that much scrutiny every time you go back."

Here's what else Snedeker, currently ranked sixth in the world, had to tell the media during that sit-down session.

MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Brandt Snedeker to the interview room here at the Players Championship, making his sixth start at this event. Brandt, tied for 11th in your first start here, and not a lot of success since. But talk about being back.

BRANDT SNEDEKER: Yeah, this is a tournament that's kind of weird for me. I absolutely love this golf course, love the tournament, and I played terrible here for most of the time I played. So a little frustrated, but it's great to be back. The golf course sets up really well for me. It's in great shape, despite all the rain they've had. I'm really impressed with how the fairways are, the greens are in great shape, and the rough is pretty thick, so it should be set up for a good week. I'm well rested for the first time in a while, which is nice, and after the Masters I got back, got some rest and I feel good this week, and it should be an interesting week. We'll see how it goes.

MODERATOR: Recap your season for us. Obviously the win at Pebble Beach and really hot start out of the gates.

BRANDT SNEDEKER: Yeah, I started off kind of where I left off at the end of last year, and I built on that. Obviously had a great stretch of golf, which I'm trying to recreate now. To play that well for that many weeks I had a couple of back to back runner ups and then the win at Pebble was really nice. And injury came and kind of put me on the shelf for six weeks and came back and struggled a little bit, but found some good form at the Masters, which was nice. Got in contention there and didn't play the way I wanted to Sunday, but I really felt like the game was coming around. Then Hilton Head, didn't play particularly well at Hilton Head, and I guess I ran into a little bit of exhaustion after the Masters is pretty much what happened. I feel well rested now and ready to get back after it.

Q. What did you take out of that Sunday at the Masters?

BRANDT SNEDEKER: You know, a lot of positives. I know I was pretty depressed and pretty down afterwards because I really felt like I was going to win. I felt like I was playing great and doing everything the right way, and that's the way you always are after you lose. But getting back and looking back on things, I accomplished a lot of my goals that week. I got in the last group, which if you look at the tradition in the history of the Masters, it's a pretty good place to be. Your odds of winning increase dramatically if you're there.

So that's a great positive I took out of it. I played really well for 54 holes, and if I putt the way I normally do on Sunday, I think I have a really good chance of winning that golf tournament. So I took a lot of really good stuff out of that. I realized the last two weeks I really focused on my putting and my short game, trying to get that back to where I feel like it should be and could be, and hopefully it will be there this week.

Q. You've been here a couple times now, so with each passing year you're at the Players, what are some things that you can take away from some past tournaments and just past experience here?

BRANDT SNEDEKER: Yeah, this golf course, experience does play a key role here. There is a way you're supposed to play this golf course. Pete Dye did a great job of telling you where you need to hit it on every hole and you need to do a good job of doing that and miss it in spots where can you manage from. It's a demanding golf course. Even though it's not a long golf course, you really test every club in your bag. You're going to have a lot of awkward tee shots and awkward second shots it feels like at times. It's just a golf course that really baits you into making mistakes, very similar to a major championship field in that aspect. It baits you into making bad mistakes and big numbers. Everybody thinks at 17 that's one of them, but every hole has got a couple of spots where you just cannot hit it, and it's really great from that aspect. I think it's very underrated from that aspect.

Q. I know you had Hilton Head right after Augusta, but could you maybe walk us through what you did after Augusta? Did you watch the final round?

BRANDT SNEDEKER: I have not watched any of it and probably won't for a while. I didn't even see the playoff. I didn't see what happened, just too fresh, I guess, at that time to go through it and relive it again. But it was good to see Adam win. I was really excited for him. It was a long time coming for him. It gave me some confidence knowing that if you keep putting yourself there, it's going to happen, and I couldn't think of a better guy to win than him.

Q. Secondly, you put so much focus and so much emphasis on that tournament going in and taking extra time off, was it hard or is it hard to sort of get past that and get back up after it?

BRANDT SNEDEKER: Yeah, I had a tough time. Obviously, Hilton Head, I think I was playing really well, and I think I just ran out of steam. Just exhausted. Just because the majors do take it out of you, and I didn't do a good job of getting plenty of rest on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. I had some stuff I had to do and played a lot of golf and got worn down. I kind of took the same approach to the Players this week with the Masters. I took the week off before and went to Sea Island, practiced for four or five days beforehand. Was going to come down here early, but obviously the course got washed out so I came down here today. But I feel like prep work was very similar. So I feel like I'm actually kind of in a similar routine as I did for the Masters.

Q. According to a lot of people, including like the anonymous pro in "Sports Illustrated," you're the best putter on the Tour right now. A lot of times guys don't necessarily share that opinion. But first of all, do you think that that has been your strength over this run over the last couple years? And lastly, what is your take on the anchoring situation? Is it something you think you would ever try, and do you have a guess as to what you think might happen when the USGA decides what they want to do?

BRANDT SNEDEKER: When it comes to putting, I think the reason why I played well the last two years is I've hit more greens. I think I've putted about the same the last five years, but when you putt - putting has been my strength since I turned professional. When I hit more greens, I putt the same, and make more birdies and make less mistakes, So I think that's kind of the difference.

This year has been especially, I've been hitting more greens than I've hit in my whole career this year and that's why I played the best I played. My putting this year has been below par the last six to eight tournaments I've played in. This is not where I want it to be, and it does not feel like a strength in my game right now, and that makes me mad because I feel like it should. So I put a lot of time and effort into it the last six weeks trying to really get it back to where I think it should be.

With regards to the ban, I have no clue what's going to happen. I thought for sure eight weeks ago that they were going to go through with the ban and then the Tour came out against it. I have no clue what's going to happen now. I've made my opinions very clear. I am for the ban, but at the end of the day, we as players cannot see the forest through the trees. We have no idea how this affects the game in general, how it's going to affect the game to the public, and I think it's unfair for me to come out and say I'm against the ban. Well, I'm against the ban because I'm a great putter. It's obvious why I would be against the ban, because it's the strength of my game. If I had a long putter in my hand, I would not be for the - it's just where you're coming from. And I think the people in charge or making this decision need to have all the facts in front of them, need to realize where the game of golf is right now, where it is going forward, and hopefully they're a lot smarter than we are and can figure out what is the best for the game of golf going forward.

Q. Are you of the school of thought that if it was such an advantage everybody would be doing it?

BRANDT SNEDEKER: No, no. I think you've asked the obvious question. If all the guys that use it, if it wasn't an advantage, why do they use it? Because it works. I don't know why else you would use it. It's not more comfortable. I mean, that's just my thought. But I don't think it's - I don't know how to put this the right way - for the guys that use it, they feel like it helps them become better putters, period; that's why they use it. For me, I don't think it would help me become a better putter. I've tried it and it doesn't work for me. So is that an advantage for me? If they forced me to play a belly putter more, I would not be as good of a putter, so it would be hard to tell me it's an advantage.

Q. Every hole is so distinct, just doglegs all different directions and everything off to the side. Does that make it more difficult or does it keep you more focused going from hole to hole?

BRANDT SNEDEKER: It's tough, there are a lot of awkward tee shots, and by awkward, tee shot lines you up into trouble and you have to play away from it. If you hit it too far against the dogleg, you end up in trouble. So there are just a lot of funny angles off tees, a lot of slopes that you have to contend with, and he just does a great job pulling your eye where you don't want to go on this golf course. You kind of end up seeing places where you think you need to hit it, and it's completely the wrong way that you should hit it. So it just baits you into hitting shots that you shouldn't hit, and being aggressive when you shouldn't be aggressive. And he actually does do a great job of penalizing you if you're too safe, too. If you play away from it and do something too conservative, he's going to penalize you for that too. So it's a very strategic golf course.

Q. I know Sunday at Augusta you had a hard time adjusting to the slower than usual greens, but in trying to fix your putting, what did you feel you needed to do to improve and get better with?

BRANDT SNEDEKER: Yeah, this year inside five feet I've been terrible. It's normally been a strength of mine. Normally I three putt very rarely. I normally make a large percentage of my putts from inside five feet, and I think I'm 120th on Tour inside five feet. It's just obvious you're not going to play well on Sundays in majors if you can't make your putts inside five feet just because you're going to have a lot of them. So that's my big key right now. If I can make those putts inside five feet and keep being aggressive it trails in everything. If you can't make your putts inside five feet, you're not aggressive from 25 feet, you don't make as many putts. Trying to get them close just doesn't - leads poorly into the rest of your game.

Q. Is that mental?

BRANDT SNEDEKER: It's everything, it's a little bit mental, little bit physical, and it's about combining those two things to do enough reps and get enough confidence to know what the ball's supposed to be doing. I had a few mechanical flaws that I'm working on trying to fix, and then it gets into your psyche, just like anybody else. I don't care how good a putter you are, if you're not making putts, it's going to get in there. So it's about getting the reps in to get that out.

Q. Would winning this tournament be as big to you as winning the FedEx Cup?

BRANDT SNEDEKER: Yes, yes, it would be.

Q. How do you rank the two accomplishments?

BRANDT SNEDEKER: This is our fifth major. There is no secret about it. It's one of the premier tournaments in the world to win. It's got probably one of the best fields in golf. If you win this tournament, you've done something really special. You look at the list of champions and you see why. There are some great champions that have won here. So this is our premier event. It's the PGA Tour. We do a great job in getting the best players in golf to be here, and I think this is definitely one you want to circle that you want to have as your career winds down and know that you won a Players Championship.

Q. Have you ever been involved where you had to explain something because a viewer called in?

BRANDT SNEDEKER: Yes.

Q. Could you explain that, and what are your thoughts about somebody on a couch that's not part of the competition suddenly becoming part of the competition?

BRANDT SNEDEKER: I actually had an incident at the Masters a couple years ago. Something got said in a press conference after a round that raised some questions and they came to me on Saturday morning and clarified it to make sure I wasn't getting any kind of advice. I was playing with Tom Watson, and I said in the press conference that I had asked him for some advice on life in general on Tour. If there's anything he would have done differently early on in his career, looking back on life, what would he have done differently. Somebody called in and said that Tom Watson was giving me advice on how to play Augusta. So I had to clarify it and let them know it was about how to travel on Tour with your family, how to do stuff like that, not how to play the 11th hole at Augusta National.

So I've had to do that. And there have been a couple times on Tour that people have called in and done it. I don't think they should become part of the tournament. I don't think that fans, as great as we are about bringing fans close to the game and feeling like they're part of it, I don't think fans should be able to call in and dictate the outcome of a tournament, saying we see a rule broken and blah, blah, blah. We as players sometimes do stuff that we don't know happens, and that's just part of golf. I'm sorry. There's probably times every time we might move a stick here or there and not know it, it just goes uncalled. That is just the rub of the green, that's golf, the fouls go uncalled and everything else. If we see it, we call it on ourselves. I don't think there's ever been an instance where a guy has tried to get away with a ruling and somebody's called it on him. It's breaking a rule that we didn't know existed or hitting something. Most of the time you hear about people calling in, it's guys calling on themselves. And if you go back to look at the footage, I think I clipped this on my takeaway or a leaf moved or something like that. That's the most times I hear about it.

But when it comes to viewers calling in, I don't think there's first of all, I don't know how they get in touch with anybody. I call the Tour all the time and they never answer my phone calls (laughing). So second of all, I feel sorry for the people that have to answer that phone call, because I'm sure they get thousands and thousands of calls about stuff every week. I just don't think it's supposed to be in the game of golf, and I don't think it's fair to us as players. I mean, I just don't think it's intent - I think intent is a very important word in this. I think the rules of golf are meant to where intent is part of it. And when people start calling in, we're not intending to break the rules or intending to do anything. You waste a lot of time and make it an issue when it's not an issue.

Q. Has anybody ever brought it up in a players' meeting?

BRANDT SNEDEKER: Yeah, we bring it up all the time.

Q. It is?

BRANDT SNEDEKER: Yeah, it's brought up. But how do you change it? How do you go about it? I don't know. I think the Tour is of the ilk, and I completely agree with them, that they're in charge of trying to make sure the rules are followed. So if somebody calls in and there might be an instance, then that's your job to go down and look and make sure nobody's getting an unfair advantage by doing something incorrectly. I understand that. But at some point you have to draw a line and say we're going to stop it. So I just don't know where that is.

Q. Are you amazed that the guy on the couch can get the phone number? How do they get the phone number?

BRANDT SNEDEKER: You tell me. Ask them. Call David Eger, he might know. I don't know how you get it.

Q. I can understand Eger.

BRANDT SNEDEKER: I don't know. I literally don't know what number they call. I guess you can get it from the tournament directory online. I don't know. I don't know what would charge somebody enough to call up. I would hope they have something better going on.

Q. How much have the recent rains here affected the course, and if it doesn't rain anymore, which it's not expected to this week, do you see it drying out too?

BRANDT SNEDEKER: It was dry today, I couldn't believe it after having whatever rainfall they've had. I heard 6 to 10 inches. I was in Sea Island, and in the north end of it up there, and it was raining pretty heavily. And I saw the pictures on Saturday of what it looked like. You would have thought today playing out there it didn't have any rain at all. It was bone dry. So the staff did an unbelievable job getting the course ready. I didn't see any debris, any washout, nothing out there at all, and the ball was really running. So I'm shocked with how good the course looks.

Q. In the players' meetings when they're talking about people calling in and what they see on television, does anybody ever discuss the difference between what television thinks it sees and what reality is? And the reason I ask that is I produced a television program for ten years, and a lot of times I'd be out on site working with somebody doing construction or whatever it was, and sometimes it would look significantly different after you get the tape back into the studio. So reality and what you see on video are not always the same.

BRANDT SNEDEKER: I'm sure there are instances of people having to explain themselves. I think the problem is and the reason we get upset about it is people are calling in to test our integrity, saying we think you're breaking a rule and we think you're cheating. And when you know you didn't do anything wrong and you have somebody calling in and questioning you that, I don't care if you're cleared of it or what, it still makes you feel uncomfortable. It's not a feeling you want to have. Any time a Tour official calls you into a trailer and says we need to take a look at something, you're not in a great mood. You're not feeling real good. There are not a lot of positive outcomes coming out of that.

So that's where we get uncomfortable. And then you feel like you have to explain yourself to a judge and jury. Well, I was there, this is what I saw, this is what I did, and the Tour does a great job of making sure that we talk through it and make sure that everything's going through. That's why guys get upset about it, and I think anybody else would, too. You're calling in and questioning your integrity, you're calling in and you feel like you're going into the principal's office. The minute you get done and talking about it, it throws a big question mark in the air about your round of golf, so it's a tough deal.

Q. How much of your discomfort on that is that it almost feels like an unlevel playing field because there are some people who are never on TV and some of you who every shot is on TV, so the scrutiny is not evenly distributed?

BRANDT SNEDEKER: Yeah, well, I think it goes back to intent. I think if somebody's intending to break the rules or did something wrong not knowing or something like that, that's when the penalty should be instituted. I think when a guy does something unbeknownst to himself and gets - I don't know how to explain it the right way, but I feel like that does bring a great question. It's not fair to Tiger to have somebody watch his 72 holes and everything he does, and then to have, no offense to Derek Ernst, but before Derek Ernst last week, he would not have had a camera on him for the last two rounds. So he could have unintentionally broken a rule and wouldn't be facing the same thing. I understand it's different things.

I just think it's a slippery slope of how far do you go down that line of letting viewers become part of the action and where you draw that line, I don't know. That's why we have Tim who does a great job getting in front of this stuff. The Tour, despite all of our moaning, really does a great job of getting in front of this stuff and making sure it doesn't become a problem. I think if it gets to that point, the Tour will step in and say something. Until that point, I think they're happy with the way things are.

Q. Does it bother you in any way that while the Tour's not going to set up a 1 800 hotline for calling in, their official stance is they're not going to do anything to discourage it because they see it as one more safeguard, and they don't want to discourage people who are TV viewers and have enough passion for the game to want to do that?

BRANDT SNEDEKER: I think that's why they've used that new rule. I think that's why that new rule is going to be there. The USGA being able to now not get WD'd, if you sign a wrong scorecard and somebody calls in overnight, I think that is the point of that rule. It's the biggest reason guys are getting fired up about it is we're getting DQ'd from tournaments for breaking rules we didn't know existed from a viewer calling in, and then all of a sudden we get DQ'd and can't play anymore. Well, if we knew we had broken a rule, we'd gladly take the penalty and go on. That's why that new rule is in effect.

I think we're the only sport where fans can actually dictate some of the action if they see something going on. I don't know how far down that road we want to go. I don't think there is any place for it. I don't think it's fair to some guys and not fair to other guys and I just don't think it's - I don't know. I feel like I'm getting called to the principal's office. You know, I just don't feel like it's the way the game of golf is supposed to be played for us out here, to be under that much scrutiny every time you go back.

Q. Just ball-parking this, if we took a poll of 200 players, how do you think the poll on that topic would be? Similar, or what percent would side with your position?

BRANDT SNEDEKER: I think a large percentage would be on my side of it. I have no problem with - I think all guys, all of us in the locker room, all of us feel like our integrity is one of the most important things to us. So I trust every other guy implicitly in that room. When it comes to a questionable drop, when it comes to a questionable thing, I would literally bet everything I own, 99 percent of the guys in that room would do the right thing. That's why I never question any other player. We're all in the same boat. I don't care what you say about a couple of questionable drops here or there; I'm a firm believer in karma and I know it will come back and bite you in the butt somewhere else.

I know everybody out there feels comfortable with every other player doing the right thing under the circumstances, and that's why I think most guys are kind of against this issue is because we know those guys are not trying to break the rules. We know if it's questionable, they're going to do the right thing. That's why I think most of us are kind of over this.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.


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