Brandt Snedeker ready to star on Sunday

FedEx Cup winner comes to Augusta as favorite


Ever since he was in Sunday’s final pairing of the 2008 Masters Tournament, Brandt Snedeker has been in a large group of potential challengers for the green jacket.

This year, he’s one of the favorites.

“It will be very different,” Snedeker said of his expectations for the Masters. “I’ve gone there in the past thinking I can contend, and this year I’m going in knowing that I can contend and knowing that winning is not a farfetched idea. It’s very much a reality.”

All the former Vanderbilt golfer has done in the past six-plus months is win twice, includng the Tour Championship, which earned him the $10 million bonus for winning the season-long FedEx Cup points race.

Before being slowed by a rib injury after winning at Pebble Beach this year, he was the hottest player in the world. In his first five starts this year, he won, was second twice, was third and tied for 23rd.

“I go in there with a ton of confidence,” said Snedeker, referring to Augusta National Golf Club.

He made a run at the Masters title in 2008, opening with 69-68-70 and was in second place, two shots off Trevor Immelman’s pace. Paired with Immelman in the final round, Snedeker couldn’t keep it going – he closed with 77 to finish tied for third. Since then, he’s missed the cut, tied for 15th and tied for 19th last year.

He wants to be in that 2008 final round situation again this year.

“I will relish that challenge being there Sunday trying to beat the best player in the world or whoever it may be down the back nine at Augusta,” Snedeker said. “That’s something I look forward to instead of dreading maybe four years ago.”

After he won at Pebble Beach this year, Snedeker said, “I know that if I play the way I played the last three weeks that there’s very few people in the world that can beat me,”

Through Pebble Beach and dating back to last fall, Snedeker was under par in 32 of his previous 38 rounds and loving every minute of it.

“I’m one of the few people in this world that get to live out their dream every day,” he said. “It’s been pretty unbelievable. To win the golf tournaments I’ve won and be in contention as much as I have, you know, probably with not very much fanfare and people thinking, I don’t hit the ball very long, I’m not the best ball‑striker. I just kind of – somehow all my pars end up being pretty good at the end of the day.”

He made quite an impression on James Hahn, his playing partner in the final round at Pebble Beach.

“I learned that he is a better guy than he is a golfer,” Hahn said. “The dude is world class. He’s obviously one of the best, if not the best, golfers right now, and possibly for the last year.”

Because of his play, Snedeker’s world ranking has skyrocketed. Last year before the Masters, Snedeker was ranked 22nd. After his victory at Pebble Beach on Feb. 10, he had moved to fourth, with his eye on being No. 1 one day.

“People probably don’t think it’s doable, but I think it is, and I believe in myself and what I’m capable of,” he said.

If he became the top-ranked American, Snedeker would be proud of that, too.

“I would love to be known as the best American golfer.” he said. I’ve got a long way to go to do that, but this is a great start to the year.”

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