Cast your mind back just over 12 months to last years Farmers Insurance Open. Brandt Snedeker beat Kyle Stanley in a playoff in what was one of the more remarkable victories of the year. However it was remarkable more for the way in which Stanley lost it rather than Snedeker won it. I don’t wish to take anything away from Brandt, however with a 3 shot lead coming down the final hole, a reachable and birdieable par 5, it would have taken the wildest of imaginations to believe that anyone other than Kyle Stanley would lift the trophy.
He didn’t though, Snedeker did, and just over a year later he is the hottest property in world golf. Not from a marketing point of view, that title still lies with Mcilroy, it will take more than one missed cut for his star to start to wane. But from a golfing point of view, nobody can touch the start to 2013 that Brandt has had. And yet if you had told anyone watching his win at Torrey Pines just over 12 months ago that a year down the line that Brandt would be the form player on the planet, officially the worlds 4th best golfer, and a hot tip for this years Masters title I doubt very much that they would have believed you.
It’s hard to begrudge Snedeker his success, he seems one of the most likeable of characters, but he isn’t the sort you would expect to sit at golf top table. With his floppy blonde hair, rounded cheeks and ever-present smile he reminds me more than a little of Samwise Gamgee. The ever-present smile and relaxed demeanour is a world away from the more intense characters on tour, but it makes a refreshing change.
The strange thing about Snedekers success is that it has really rather snuck up on us. The win at the Farmers Insurance Open did little to change the general perception of him as little more than just another tour player. A very fine player certainly, but on a tour full of fine players there seemed little to set him apart from the others. A trip to europe for the Matchplay went fairly unheralded, this wasnt a big name American signing. A fantastic 2nd round and good final placing may have gone a little way to raising his profile , but none the less, heading into the Fed-Ex playoff series, he would have been considered an outside bet for a place on the US Ryder Cup team. A look through his seasons results reveal why. Prior to the Fed-Ex playoffs apart from the afore-mentioned Farmers Insurance and Open Championship performances, his only other top 10 was a T9 (Defeat in the last 16) at the WGC World Matchplay.
It begs the question then, Is Snedeker really one of the worlds best golfers, or is he simply just on hot streak that stretches back his last 9 events to the start of the Playoffs last year? It’s a question that will only be answered in the fullness of time, however a quick look at his game suggests reasons to be confident.
His putting stroke, whilst unusual in these days of the silky smooth putters like Luke Donald is a throwback to a bygone age, and has been remarkably consistent since he joined the tour, consistently placing in the top 20 putters. The long game has been less consistent, however the swing, whilst it’s certainly brisk is also very simple with very little that looks like it could break down. His demeanor previously mentioned suggests he is likely to cope under pressure too. But there are also question marks as well. Why has he taken until the age of 32 to find this form? Is the new found form with the long game simply a blip? Does the laid back demeanor betray a lack of ambition, or is there fire in the belly?
The next year will give us an idea as to the real Brandt Snedeker. Do we have on our hands a real contender. A look back through the rankings show plenty of players with a brief period in the top 10 before sliding back into the pack, Is Snedeker just the next Anthony Kim, Camillo Villegas, David Howell or Henrik Stenson? Or is he a little bit more permanent? I for one, hope he is the latter.