On a bizarre day at Augusta National, when Tiger Woods took center stage for a rules gaffe more than his game, Brandt Snedeker did his best to divert the spotlight to himself with steady play that lifted him into a tie for the lead after three rounds of the Masters.
Snedeker, who was racking up Player of the Year points early in the season before a rib injury put him on the bench and Woods began collecting trophies at a rapid clip, was no stranger to the position he put himself in by shooting a third-round 3-under 69. Indeed, he was prepared for the questions he was sure to hear about that start in 2008 in the final group when he finished with a 77, a share of third place, and tears that could not disguise his disappointment.
But that was then, and Snedeker has gained four tour victories, the 2012 FedEx Cup, and a wealth of experience under his mop of blond hair in those five years. That knowledge -- and one of the best putting strokes on tour -- infused Snedeker with confidence that 2013 would not be a repeat of his 2008 collapse.
“I had no clue what I was doing in 2008. No idea of when to be aggressive, when not to be aggressive, how to play this golf course the way you're supposed to play it,” Snedeker told reporters after getting to 7-under and a date with co-leader Angel Cabrera on Sunday. “I have a complete and clear focus of what I need to to tomorrow.”
It has been a season of contrasts for Snedeker, who racked up third, T2, solo second, and first closes in four of five tourneys out of the gate that fueled his surge to fifth in the world rankings. Then came the strained intercostal muscle and two-straight missed cuts after he recovered.
While he said he was not quite 100 percent, his self-assurance was brimming and, after a bogey-free round in which he found 12 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens in regulation, according to masters.com, he said he managed his game well. And despite an uncharacteristic 31 putts, Snedeker believes he’s completely equipped to take that next step and win his first major despite the big names like Woods, Adam Scott, Jason Day, and Matt Kuchar, each of whom lurk no more than four strokes behind him on the leader board.
“I've spent 32 years of my life getting ready for tomorrow and it's all been a learning process and I am completely, 100 percent sure that I'm ready to handle no matter what happens tomorrow. I'm going to be disappointed if I don't win. Period,” he said.
Sounding a bit like a certain world No. 1, whose Nike tag line (“Winning Takes Care of Everything”) says it all about what’s at stake on Sunday, Snedeker said he would bring his A game to the course for his 2:40 tee time.
“I'm not here to get a good finish. I'm not here to finish top five,” he averred. “I'm here to win and that's all I'm going to be focused on tomorrow. I realize what I have to do to do that and I'm going to do everything I can to make sure that that happens.”