Rib injury doesn't derail Brandt Snedeker's hopes

Brandt Snedeker (right) and Keegan Bradley walk to the sixth green during Tuesday's practice round.


Before Valentine’s Day this year, Brandt Snedeker owned a PGA Tour victory and two runner-up finishes and had deposited $2.8 million into his bank account.

He is off the radar, however, for many fans coming into the Masters Tournament.

A rib injury to his left side – “a strained intracostal muscle” is what Snedeker called it Tuesday – turned the hottest player on tour into a spectator for five weeks.

The 32-year-old returned for the Arnold Palmer Invi­ta­tional on March 24, then played the Houston Open two weeks ago. He missed the cut in both.

The Nashville, Tenn., native, playing in his sixth Masters, says he’s ready to return to the form he displayed in January and February.

“I was 90 percent healthy at Bay Hill,” Sne­deker said. “And at Houston I felt great. This week I’m feeling great. It’s just a matter of making sure the rust is completely off, which I feel like it is. I’m 100 percent healthy, which is a nice thing.”

Snedeker also knows it’s nice to be about eight months from turning 33 when it comes to his golf game.

“What I talk to my family and agents about (is) this is my prime time, from now until 40,” he said. “Historically, what golfers do, this is the time we play our best golf. I have to take advantage of my skills and really put golf first and make sure that this is my prime time to win majors, win tournaments and try to maximize that time.”

Despite his injuries, which led tohip surgery, Sne­deker feels he has the knowledge it takes to win a major.

“I feel like my game’s ready,” he said. “The biggest hurdle I think with winning a major championship is being mentally prepared to handle the stress that you are going to have to handle the last two rounds.”

Snedeker isn’t hiding where he’d like that first major to occur.

“I would trade probably all my PGA Tour wins for this one tournament,” he said of the Masters. “If I had eight people follow me at a normal event, that’s a big deal. Here you have 10,000.

“There’s big sporting events that you circle and watch every year whether it be the Super Bowl, Kentucky Derby or whatever transcends the sport. This tournament transcends golf, and you realize it being here.”

Sne­de­ker hopes to play the way he opened 2013 – even if he has been forced to talk in doctor terms on occasion.

“Trust me, I’ve been in way too many doctor’s offices in the last couple years. I can go without seeing too many for a while,” Snedeker said. “And I definitely could have minored in the human anatomy in college for what I’ve learned over the last three years and what I’ve been through.”

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