Snedeker healthy, gaining confidence at Torrey PinesJanuary 27, 2012
Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM Chief of Correspondents
LA JOLLA, Calif. -- Less than two months ago, fresh off surgery on his right hip, Brandt Snedeker was hobbling around his home in Nashville, Tenn., on crutches. He didn't even start playing golf regularly until New Year's Day.
Snedeker's recovery has been nothing short of phenomenal, though. Less than two weeks into his 2012 season, the Vanderbilt product already owns one top-10 finish -- and he's given himself a shot at something even bigger this weekend at the Farmers Insurance Open.
"I'm certainly surprised that I played this well this fast," Snedeker said. "Normally it takes me a while to get the rust off. But my practice at home was really, really well. I was kind of shocked at how quick I picked it back up. ...
"I was actually chomping at the bit to get out here because I knew I was playing well. But you never really know until you get back out here and get under conditions. But I was actually pretty right on."
Indeed. Snedeker will start the third round at Torrey Pines at 13 under, just one stroke off the lead held by Kyle Stanley. The man who already owns the record of 61 on the North Course shot just three strokes higher on Friday as he turned in the low round of the day.
And this comes after the two-time PGA TOUR champ shot three rounds in the 60s last week at the Humana challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation and ended up tied for eighth. He made six straight birdies during the third round there and he reeled off five consecutive at Torrey Pines on Friday.
"I wish you hadn't told me that because I didn't know," Snedeker said with a grin. "Now I'm sure it won't happen tomorrow."
Don't bet on it. After all, Snedeker certainly has a comfort zone at this spectacular municipal course constructed on the cliffs above the Pacific Ocean. He shot that 61 in the first round of the 2007 Farmers Insurance Open on the way to a third-place finish and PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year honors. He's had top-10 finishes here the last two years, as well, and posted his 10th straight sub-par round at Torrey on Friday.
"Oh, the 61 memory," Snedeker said with a smile. "I still play the first hole. That was my tenth hole of the day, and I was 9 under through nine. Every time I tee the ball up there, I remember I could barely get the ball to stay on the tee I was so nervous making the turn. I remember I missed a little eagle putt there to get 11 through 10. But still I have a lot of great memories."
Snedeker and his family, which now includes 10-month-old Lily, stay in Del Mar, the chic beachside suburb about five miles up the coast. He likes the area so well that he and his wife have talked about retiring here, although that's a long way off for the 31-year-old.
"I guess I was born in California in my past life because I love it out here," Snedeker said.
The surgery on Nov. 1 was done to help prolong that career, though. Snedeker has a congenital condition that surfaced when he tore the labrum in his left hip and had surgery about 13 months ago. His physician told him then that he would need similar surgery on his right.
"But the doctor felt pretty comfortable that I could play last year without any pain and I did," said Snedeker, who went on to win The Heritage in a playoff with the man who is now world No. 1, Luke Donald. "Sure enough, he told me I had a year on it. About a year to the day, it started hurting, and I called him and we got the surgery scheduled."
Snedeker this week Round 1
Birdies 7 9 Pars 9 8 Bogeys 2 1 Fairways 8 11 Greens 13 12 Putts* 26 24
In addition to repairing the labrum, doctors shaved some bone off his pelvis and his femoral head. He was on crutches for the next five weeks. Turns out, he enjoyed the extended break, though, particularly with the little one around to distract him.
"You can't look at the negative of it," Snedeker said. "It's just life. No big deal. It could have been a lot worse. The surgery went really well, and I feel great now. So it's all in the past now."
Snedeker missed the winners-only Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii but he was putting the time to good use back home in Tennessee. He practiced hard the first two weeks of season and felt confident enough to tee it up in the California desert.
"(I) decided to give Palm Springs a shot because I felt pretty well, and strength felt pretty good, and sure enough it held up pretty well ... and feels great now," Snedeker said. "So the warm weather's helping, being here's helping. So hopefully it stays like that the rest of the week."
Snedeker says he's driving the ball as well as he has in his career -- "which isn't saying a lot, but it's saying enough for me right now," he noted. He's gone back to his natural right-to-left ball flight and he's gotten longer and more solid, as a result. His putter is obviously hot, too, with 39 birdies and an eagle over his first six rounds of the year.
"So I'm excited with where I am after the first two days," Snedeker said. "I feel like as good as I've played, I've left a few out there, which is a good feeling to know my game is where it needs to be.
"This is a tough golf course coming up over the weekend. Even though probably one of the longer, tougher tests we play, the guys still managed to make a lot of birdies and shoot some low rounds. I've got my work cut out for me heading in."