An unexpected plaid jacket goes to Snedeker

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April 24, 2011
Stan Awtrey, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- The plaid jacket looked pretty good on Brandt Snedeker.

"I said there are two jackets I wanted to earn in my lifetime, a Green Jacket and a plaid jacket," Snedeker said. "I've got one."

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He earned the plaid jacket, given annually to the winner of The Heritage, by shooting a 64 at Harbour Town on the final day and then outlasting Luke Donald in a three-hole playoff, thwarting Donald's attempt to become the No. 1-ranked player in the world.

The addition to his wardrobe hardly seemed likely when he woke up Sunday morning. Snedeker didn't take a deep breath of fresh ocean air and think, "I'm going to go out and win myself a golf tournament." That would not have been realistic, not for someone starting the final round tied for 17th place and six strokes back.

"I woke up with no expectations whatsoever," Snedeker said. "I was more worried about how I was going to get to New Orleans on Monday than I was with what this round entailed."

But Sunday wasn't an ordinary day. Snedeker shot the round of the week and posted his number. It was a good number, too. His 64 was only the second 7-under score posted this week at Harbour Town. Still, with the leaders playing in another time zone, it seemed doubtful that the score would hold up.

"I had no clue," he said. "I didn't look at the leaderboard all day. I literally thought that guys would play 13 or 14 under par. When I saw I was leading by one, I was shocked. I probably wouldn't have birdied the last hole if I had known I was leading by a shot."

After signing his scorecard, Snedeker began what he later called the "longest two hours" of his life. He retreated to the scoring trailer and watched for a while, but had to stop watching because he never roots against a fellow competitor. "I don't want them to do bad, but I don't want them to do great, either," he said.

He made a few phone calls and tried to keep his mind focused on anything other than golf, "and try to forget what was going on. I had a feeling there was going to be a playoff and then I was getting prepared for that."

He walked to the range, grabbed a couple bags of balls and began to loosen up -- all the while listening for updates and waiting for news. No one told him to stop, so he kept going. He finally meandered over to the putting green and nervously rolled a few toward the cup.

At last he got the word: Hop in the cart and head over to the 18th hole. It's playoff time.

The playoff began at No. 18. Donald knocked in a birdie from just inside 12 feet, only to have Snedeker respond by making his 10-footer.

"If you want to be a good player, you've got to learn how to make these," Snedeker said. "At the end of the day, I didn't want to lose that way."

Donald even exchanged a fist pop with Snedeker as they walked to the second playoff hole, No. 17. After exchanging pars, they played No. 18 again. This time Donald's approach splashed in the bunker and left him with a messy exit. Snedeker was able to two-putt for par and won the tournament when Donald's chip hit the hole and bounced away.

The win was the second of Snedeker's career; the first came in his rookie season of 2007 when he shot a 63 on the final day to win the Wyndham Championship. He moves up to seventh in the FedExCup points list and pocketed his fifth top-10 of the season in 11 starts.

But unlike that first victory, he's got someone to share it with. Snedeker is now a married man; he and wife Mandy have a baby, Lily Hayes, born March 3, at home.

"I feel like my game is finally there, especially with a newborn at home and everything that entails," he said. "There's no secret that that's probably the reason why I won, was having that distraction, having that comfort at home, knowing that I've got a family now and how special that is and how fortunate we are to have that. I give her full credit. She doesn't know yet. She slept through the whole thing this afternoon."

Maybe she'll get a set of plaid diapers. It only seems fair.

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