Weeks: Snedeker enters spotlight in his first Ryder Cup

Bob Weeks
9/27/2012 10:52:18 AM
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MEDINAH, Illinois -- Somewhere beneath that just-a-bit-too-long, Mayberry-RFD hair and the Is-your-refrigerator-running grin, Brandt Snedeker would have you believe there is golf version of Hannibal Lecter.

Snedeker, of course, is the guy who just cashed in at the FedEx Cup, picking up cheques totaling $11.4 million on Sunday. He's the player who, in addition to winning the Tour Championship, had top-10s in the Barclays and the BMW Championship. He's also the guy who came from seven shots back on the final day to win at Torrey Pines earlier this year.

But cut-throat? Please. Snedeker is as nasty as a box of kittens. He'd try to slit your throat all right . . . with a butter knife. He's the guy who sought me out on the range earlier this year to apologize for declining an interview request made a few hours earlier. Most guys just give you a glare and walk past.

But if you ask him – or his teammates on the U.S. team for that matter – he'll tell you that deep inside lurks this extremely competitive, almost maniacal golfer.

“I definitely have an edge, definitely have an edge,” said Snedeker, who spits out words about as quickly as he golfs. “Anybody that knows me really well knows that I'm not afraid to tell people what I really think and tell people how I really feel.

"I'm very, very competitive.  People don't get that, because I'm polite; but I tee it up on Friday here, I'm trying to tee it up against anybody, I'm going to try to beat their brains in as bad as I can.”

This is the first chance that Snedeker has to bash some heads, as he so gently put it. He's a pure rookie on the U.S. team here at the Ryder Cup. Along with Jason Dufner, Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley, they are making their first runs. Snedeker was put on this team by Davis Love, one of the four US captain's picks. It's been a dream of his to play for the Stars and Stripes, and he's adjusting quickly to the spotlight.

“The one thing I was shocked about is I wasn't really as nervous as I thought I was going to be [Tuesday] being out here for the first time,' he said. “I think last weekend put my nerves at ease a lot for sure, knowing that I can handle the pressure.”

To watch him on the greens, you'd think he was shaking in his spikeless shoes. He is fast but oh-so-smooth. In fact, Snedeker owns one of the silkiest putting strokes in the game; he takes about a nano-second over the ball before rolling it on line each and every time. That's a major reason why he's being counted on to deliver this week.

Helping him along the way is a Canadian connection. Lugging Snedeker's bag is Scott Vail, from Oshawa, Ont., the son of NHL player Eric Vail, who toiled for the Atlanta and later Calgary Flames. The two have been together since Snedeker's days on the then-Nationwide Tour.

Vail has said his boss is easiest guy to work for, a player who gets respect by giving it. That sentiment seems to flow right through the team room here at Medinah.

“I think the biggest thing that Davis told me was that I drew a lot of confidence from is not only him and all the captains but every player on the team wanted me on the team,” said Snedeker, who is expecting his second child in a month. “He said everybody was excited about me being on the team and they really wanted me to be there with them. “When you have the respect of your peers and the guys you play against every week, that means a lot.”

Here's a news flash: Snedeker is respected by every player on the other team too. He's not only earned it with his play, but with the person he is off the course too. Courteous, understanding, polite, fair and a heck of a golfer. You simply can't help but like the guy – even if he is trying to beat your brains in.    

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