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Weeks: Snedeker's win extra sweet for his Canadian caddie

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Bob Weeks
7/29/2013 12:03:34 AM
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The long drought for Canadians at the RBC Canadian Open will continue but, at the very least, there was some Canadian content on the winning team this year.

While Brandt Snedeker hit all the shots that led to his second PGA Tour title of the year and sixth of his career, the guy pulling the clubs for him was Scott Vail, a native of Oshawa, Ont. who now calls downtown Toronto home.

Vail has been with Snedeker for all six of his victories but this was, perhaps, the sweetest one for the caddie.

"It was funny," said Vail. "As Brandt was tapping out he said 'How does it feel to win your own national championship?' So I had a giggle with him."

Vail may not have swung a club, but Snedeker was full of praise for his bag carrier as the two made their way around a cool, windy Glen Abbey. Nowhere was his input more important than on the 12th hole, when Snedeker's ball ended up over the green and in some deep cabbage with a log sitting inches from it.

"He did a great job on 12 today," said Snedeker. "There was a crack in the log, and I didn't see it. It was really a wet, thick log. If we moved the log the way I was going to move it, it probably would have broken off and rolled down and hit the ball. He did a great job of catching me there and getting me thinking clearly."

"I said 'You better put two hands on that,'" added Vail. "So we played a game of Operation, like we were kids."

The partnership between the two started years ago on the Nationwide Tour and has continued for all of Snedeker's PGA Tour tenure. Vail began his career carrying bags on PGA Tour Canada, working for, among others, Derek Gillespie.

Vail and Snedeker have formed a strong relationship, and Vail knows when and where to step in and say something or call his boss off a shot. As things were getting somewhat crazy on the back nine, a CBS technician told Vail about Dustin Johnson's triple bogey on the 17th hole, dropping him from a tie for the lead and giving Snedeker a two-shot cushion. But Vail knew to keep that to himself, giving his golfer just the right amount of information.

"My caddie does a great job of letting me know how aggressive I need to be," Snedeker stated. "When he said just give yourself a birdie putt at it, I figured it was a pretty cushy lead.

"He only tells me what I need to know."

Just as the golfer is full of praise for the caddie, the caddie is in awe of the golfer. Vail has seen his man grow as a player, first turning into a bona fide PGA Tour player, then a winner and then ending the reputation he gained for not being able to close out tournaments when leading.

"He just keeps getting better and better," said Vail. "He knows how to win with the lead. Before the Tour Championship last year, the naysayers were saying he couldn't hold a lead. I think he's proved to everybody that he's more than comfortable holding a lead.

"He's a fighter," added Vail. "If he gets knocked down he's going to get back up. We've faced a lot of adversity during our tenure and he always gets back up. He's got a lot of heart."

The two will be together again on Monday at the Oshawa Golf and Curling Club, when Vail is named to the club's wall of fame. As part of the festivities, there's a golf tournament that will raise some money for the local hospital.

Vail may be able to help in that regard too. The traditional cut of the first place cheque in a tour event for a caddie is 10 per cent, meaning he will collect roughly $100,000.

While the cash is important, the win itself may be sweeter, especially for a guy who, as a kid at that course, never dreamed about winning the Open.

"It's just ironic that it happened," Vail said. "It's a pretty cool story I guess. It will be an enjoyable win."

Vail and Snedeker (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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