Brandt Snedeker had 105 putts at Glen Abbey. (Petersen/Getty Images)
By Travis Fulton, Director of Instruction, TOUR Academies
In winning the RBC Canadian Open over the weekend, Brandt Snedeker reaffirmed his status as one of the favorites heading into next week’s PGA Championship at Oak Hill. Snedeker was rock-solid once again on the greens at Glen Abbey, leading the field in putts per greens hit (1.560) and birdies (23).
Considered one of the game’s best putters, if not the very best (he led the PGA TOUR in “Strokes Gained-Putting in 2012), Snedeker won for the second time on TOUR in 2013 using a short, compact putting stroke favored by such legends of the game as Arnold Palmer and Johnny Miller. You don’t see this type of “pop” stroke very much anymore, because of the faster nature of the greens today, but if Snedeker keeps winning and putting lights out, it may be back in vogue again.
One of the things I like about the pop stroke is that it assures that the putterhead is accelerating through impact, not slowing down, despite the abbreviated finish. Most people who decelerate the putterhead think that the stroke is longer back and shorter through, when in most instances it’s the opposite -- the putterhead is being dragged through the hitting area into a longer finish.
Snedeker’s putting stroke is like a Justin Verlander fastball in that it accelerates and then comes to a quick stop in the catcher’s mitt. The acceleration phase is very tight, but the putterhead doesn’t lose speed until the ball is struck. Try it sometime, especially if you’re prone to decelerating the putter every now and then. Swing the putterhead back a few inches, and then accelerate it into an imaginary catcher’s mitt like it’s making the popping sound of a 90-plus mph fastball. Swing longer back and shorter through and see if it makes a difference in your quality of contact and distance control.
The other thing unique about Snedeker’s putting technique is his grip. His left hand is very strong, meaning that the “V” formed by his thumb and forefinger points to the right side of his chest. By making his left hand stronger it actually cups the wrist more, which encourages the putterhead to release earlier with more level shoulders and square the putterface to the intended line. The putterhead has released as soon as it passes the low point of the stroke, which occurs at the left wrist because of its cupped position.
If you weaken your left hand and lean the putter shaft more forward, it can flatten the wrist out, so the low point occurs later (opposite the left shoulder). This is certainly another way to putt but requires the lead shoulder to elevate more through impact in order to release the putterhead.
Travis Fulton is the Director of Instruction for the TOUR Academies at TPC Sawgrass and the World Golf Village. For more information on the TOUR Academy, go to www.touracademy.com. For more game-improvement tips from the TOURAcademy instructors, download the new free TOURCaddie App for iPhone and iPad users at the App Store or www.AppStore.com/PGATOURCaddie. As an in-app upgrade for $9.99, you gain immediate access to more than 175 on-course tips.
Brandt Snedeker's win moves him to third place in the FedExCup standings. (Martin/Getty Images)
By Dr. Gregg Steinberg, Special to PGATOUR.COM
Family first was the theme at this year’s RBC Canadian Open. Hunter Mahan, the leader after two rounds, withdrew from the tournament when he discovered that his wife Kandi had gone into Labor. While many of the fathers on the PGA TOUR acknowledged and agreed with Hunter’s decision, Brandt Snedeker put it into perspective concerning how important family is to his game of golf.
Since his daughter was born two years ago, Brandt has won five times on the PGA TOUR. He said that before her birth, he would take his game far too serious and was all-consumed by his play. But being a father put it all into perspective for him. Now, he knows that hitting bad golf shots do not matter so much. As he puts it, golf is what I do -- not who I am. Being a father has helped him to keep his emotions under control during the ups and downs on the course. These key mental game ingredients led him to victory at Glenn Abbey and to his second win this year on the PGA TOUR.
Brandt is hitting upon what sports psychology researchers have discovered when it comes to success in golf. They found that the most successful young athletes played a variety of sports up until the age of 16, but then they focused on their primary sport. These athletes were much more successful than the athletes that focused primarily on only sport.
The premise of this finding is perspective and balance, as Brandt spoke about with his family. When a young golfer places all his self-esteem eggs in one basket (i.e., plays only one sport), there is a lot more pressure to perform well all the time on the golf course. However, if a young golfer has many hobbies and sports to build self-esteem, there is less pressure to perform well every time on the course. Consequentially, when there is less pressure, the likelihood of playing well increases.
My mental game recommendation to young golfers is to always spread the wealth and play a variety of sports and/or have additional hobbies. Here are the reasons for this recommendation:
1. When Michelangelo was working on the Sistine Chapel, he would switch hands to paint that famous ceiling. He believed in the importance of developing balance in his abilities. A young golfer playing a variety of sports will develop physical attributes that can contribute to better coordination, such as lower-body coordination if they play soccer along with golf.
2. There will be a decrease in injuries. When young athletes play a variety of sports, there is a less likelihood of an overuse injury. Also, participation in a variety of activities gives the body time to heal and rest certain muscles and tendons, decreasing injury.
3. Play a variety of sports including golf to spread the self-esteem points around. Then the young golfer can build self-worth from a variety of sources. When they step onto the golf course, there will be less pressure to perform.
Spread the wealth in activities, and you will see your game accrue in the long term.
Dr. Gregg Steinberg is a regular guest every Tuesday on “Talk of the TOUR” heard on the Sirius/XM PGA TOUR radio. He is a tenured professor of sports psychology and has been the mental game coach for many PGA TOUR players as well as top collegiate and junior golfer. Dr. Gregg is the author of the best selling golf psychology book, MentalRules for Golf, and you can get your autographed copy at drgreggsteinberg.com.
Following his win at the RBC Canadian Open, Brandt Snedeker meets with the media and talks about his sixth victory on the PGA TOUR.
Brandt Snedeker won the RBC Canadian Open on Sunday for his sixth career PGA TOUR victory and his second of the 2013 season. The reigning FedExCup champion moves to No. 3 in this year's standings and gains even more momentum as the PGA TOUR Season winds down and Playoffs approach. Want to congratulate Snedeker on his win? Leave a message in the comments section below and we'll send it to him.
By David McPherson, Special to the PGATOUR.COM
OAKVILLE, Ontario -- A moody Mother Nature, the overnight leader withdrawing, and players going low sums up the third round at the RBC Canadian Open.
After blessing Glen Abbey with perfect weather all week, Mother Nature changed her tune midway through the third round. A storm front rumbled through the area shortly after lunch, causing the tournament’s first weather delay.
The delay meant nothing to the overnight leader Hunter Mahan. He never teed off. The 31-year-old was on the driving range warming up, before the weather hit, when he received a call that his wife had gone into early labor. In a flash, he left the course, and jumped on a plane back to Dallas, Texas, to join his spouse.
Suddenly, the lead had narrowed by a couple of shots. And, with optimal scoring conditions after steady rainfall that softened the greens, players took advantage of this twist of fate.
Dustin Johnson struck first. He posted a 9-under 63 to get the early clubhouse lead at 11 under. The 29-year-old birdied the last three holes yesterday to make the cut and carried that momentum into his round today. Johnson sits T5 heading into tomorrow’s final round. Once again, he took advantage of Glen Abbey’s scoreable finishing three holes -- making birdie on 16 and an eagle on 18.
“Today I really didn’t make any mistakes,” Johnson said. “I hit it good all day long, hit it close, had a lot of birdie looks, and rolled a few putts in.”
Speaking of rolling a few putts in, that’s what Brandt Snedeker did in the afternoon -- taking only 25. With this hot putter (he said he’s had in his bag for seven years now) combined with some stellar wedge play, he matched Johnson’s 63 to take the lead heading into the final round.
“Today was obviously a great day,” Snedeker said. “I knew I was playing really well after yesterday and just kind of got some bad breaks during one stretch yesterday and went out there today and hit a lot of quality shots, gave myself a lot of good looks at birdies and obviously made a bunch of putts. When you do that, you're going to shoot a low score, and I was able to do that.”
Other players who took advantage of the softer conditions Saturday, included Matt Kuchar, who shot 64, David Lingmerth with a 65, a half-dozen other players shot 6-under 66s.
“You deal with all the elements that rain brings, but the rain also softens up the golf course, makes fairways play wider and the greens more receptive,” said Kuchar. “There were certainly a lot of opportunities for birdies. It seems like when the rain goes away, things calm down and the course gets really attackable.”
Saturday's 63 pushed Brandt Snedeker to the top of the leaderboard. (Martin/Getty Images)
By David McPherson, Special to PGATOUR.COM
OAKVILLE, Ontario -- Golf, like life, is about seizing your moments - especially when the unexpected happens.
Brandt Snedeker did that on Saturday afternoon at the RBC Canadian Open.
In a strange twist of events in the third round at Glen Abbey, the overnight leader Hunter Mahan withdrew from the tournament prior to his afternoon tee time when he received a call on the driving range that his wife Kandi had gone into early labor.
Snedeker, who won the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am earlier this year, didn’t learn about this news until the seventh tee when he glanced at the leaderboard and didn’t see Mahan’s name. By then, it didn’t matter. Wielding a hot putter, the Tennessean had already birdied four of his first six holes to get to 9 under for the tournament. Once he learned this news, however, it inspired him to seize this opportunity and go even lower.
“I looked at my caddie, and I go, ‘what’s going on?’ He goes: ‘I think Hunter had to leave because Kandi went into labor,” said Snedeker, the reigning FedExCup champion who is fourth in the 2013 standings. “That just kind of left the tournament wide open. Hunter was going to be hard to catch because he was playing so good, and the way drives the golf ball on this golf course he was going to play really well on the weekend. For me to catch him, I knew I was going to have to shoot something really low.”
Low is where Snedeker would go. He started the round T29. Thanks to a 9-under 63, he rocketed up the leaderboard. He heads to Sunday with a one-shot lead over David Lingmerth.
Despite a steady rain for most of the afternoon, Snedeker remained focused. The Tennessean scrambled a wee bit with his driver — only hitting six of 14 fairways. Snedeker’s short game made up for this lack of accuracy off the tee. The 32-year-old only took 25 putts and dialed in his approaches, hitting 16 of 18 greens in regulation.
“My wedge game has been phenomenal all week,” he said. “I’ve leaned on that a few times … hopefully I’ll continue to do it.”
As for his putting, Snedeker said it started feeling good last week at The Open Championship and he just kept those good vibes going. His only regret with his third round was that he didn’t make a couple more birdies coming home on a pair of holes that surrendered a lot of birdies and eagles today.
“I was disappointed with the way I finished on 17 and 18 not getting one there, but with the way everything kind of flipped everything with Hunter leaving, there's a great chance to win this golf tournament tomorrow, which is nice.
Looking to Sunday’s final round, Snedeker says he needs to remain aggressive and shoot a low number to win.
“I think 18‑, 19‑, 20‑under par is going to be the score to get to, and I’m going to try to get past that,” he said. “It’s one of those courses where you know you’ve got to make birdies. It’s actually kind of a comforting feeling because you know you have to be aggressive all day long.”
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy Insider
Loyal readers are familiar with the phrase "classic trap." It's when you invest in a golfer based on course history and/or cachet over current form, and even yours truly isn't immune to the temptation.
I painted my way into Rory McIlroy's corner for last week's Open Championship, rationalizing the decision with the angles that the third major is a crapshoot, you can't go an entire season without him filling a hole somewhere and I didn't see a better opportunity down the road to burn the Ulsterman. Instead, I was the one who got burned when he missed the cut by four strokes.
The options for this week's RBC Canadian Open include usual suspects Brandt Snedeker, Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan and Charl Schwartzel. Of those four, only Snedeker is available to me. As much as I'd endorse plugging him in at the Wyndham Championship or during the FedExCup Playoffs, it's not often that the No. 1 in my Power Rankings for a tournament is on the board in late July, so he's my pick for Glen Abbey.
For two-man formats, the choices for your second investment run deep. Graham DeLaet, Daniel Summerhays, Chris Stroud, Morgan Hoffmann and Hideki Matsuyama are suitable complements.
Last week: Rory McIlroy (Open Championship); MC; $0.00
Last week: Chris Kirk (Sanderson Farms Championship); T9; $75,000.00
Overall Record: 28-for-31
Top 5s: 6
Top 10s: 13
Top 25s: 20
Missed Cuts: 3
Tee times are out for the first two rounds of the RBC Canadian Open, where Scott Piercy is trying to become just the second player in the history of golf's third-oldest tournament to successfully defend his title. The only other player to do it was Jim Furyk, who went back-to-back in 2006 and 2007.
Here's a closer look at the group and other notable groups to watch the first two rounds (all times ET):
Scott Piercy, Ernie Els, Luke Donald: Piercy won this tournament a year ago and also played well in 2011, finishing sixth. Els, meanwhile, has had four finishes in the top six in his last eight starts worldwide. Donald finished third in the event in 2010. They'll tee off at 12:45 p.m. Thursday and 7:30 a.m. Friday.
Woody Austin, Graeme McDowell, Jim Furyk: Austin is coming off his first victory in six years and another strong performance could get him into the FedExCup Playoffs picture. McDowell, who won the RBC Heritage earlier this season, is playing this RBC event for the first time. They'll tee off at 12:55 p.m. Thursday and 7:40 a.m. Friday.
Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson: Kuchar has a half-dozen top 10s this year, including two wins. He also finished fourth in this tournament in 2010. Snedeker enters the week off three straight finishes in the top 20 and he finished fifth the last time this event was played at Glen Abbey. They'll tee off at 7:30 a.m. Thursday and 12:45 p.m. Friday.
Billy Horschel, Dustin Johnson, Hunter Mahan: It has been a breakout season for Horschel, who has seven top 10s, including a first, second and third. He's cooled of late, however, with no finishes in the top 30 in his last three starts. Mahan, who was in the final pairing on Sunday at Muirfield, finished fourth here in 2004. They'll tee off at 7:40 a.m. Thursday and 12:55 p.m. Friday.
Snedeker shot 43 over his final nine holes Friday. (Franklin/Getty Images)
At one point Friday, Brandt Snedeker was within a stroke of the lead at The Open Championship.
By the time the round ended, he was eight back and had no one but to blame but himself.
Snedeker shot a second-round 79, playing his final nine holes in 43, to tumble down the leaderboard at Muirfield, where instead of entering the weekend in contention, he's in a tie for 39th.
Like most everyone else, Snedeker struggled with the difficult conditions. His troubles began on the 10th hole, where he made double bogey, and only got worse as the round wore on.
A bogey on 13.
Another on 14.
Then on 15, Snedeker four-putted for a triple-bogey 7.
"Everything is dead," he said. "You've got fairways that are running 15 in some spots. You can't stand up, you can slip. It's just really, really firm."
The final blow for Snedeker came on 18, where he made double bogey to complete what was an 11-shot swing from the day before.
Asked how much of a grind his round was, Snedeker said, "Beyond anything I've ever played in."
"It's very, very hard to hit a ball where you're supposed to and very, very hard to keep the ball where you're supposed to," he continued. "I was always constantly frustrated because you think you're pulling off the right shot and you're not getting rewarded."