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Vince Johnson: Brandt Snedeker, the anti-Tiger, makes his case

Posted: April 13, 2013 6:15 p.m.
Updated: April 13, 2013 6:15 p.m.
Brandt Snedeker holds up his ball during the third round of the Masters Tournament on Saturday in Augusta, Ga. Brandt Snedeker holds up his ball during the third round of the Masters Tournament on Saturday in Augusta, Ga.
Brandt Snedeker holds up his ball during the third round of the Masters Tournament on Saturday in Augusta, Ga.

AUGUSTA, Ga. — If you’re tiring of Tiger Woods and The Masters controversy that seems to swirl around him like the winds of Amen Corner, try some Brandt Snedeker.

Snedeker shot a 3-under 69 on Saturday, moving him to 7-under overall and tied for the lead with Angel Cabrera entering Sunday’s final round. Then, in a post-round press conference, Snedeker threw down the gauntlet.

“I’m not here to get a good finish. I’m not here to finish top five. I’m here to win, and that’s all I’m going to be focused on (Sunday).”

He could’ve dropped the microphone.

But in his quiet, confident Southern drawl, the Nashville, Tenn. native kept going.

“I’ve spent 32 years of my life getting ready for (Sunday), and it’s all been a learning process, and I am completely, 100 percent sure that I’m ready to handle no matter what happens tomorrow.”

I’m not sure “no matter what happens” includes his ball caroming off a flagstick and into the water on the 15th green, or the ensuing two-shot penalty when he makes an illegal drop, but I’d assume so.

Snedeker is almost the anti-Tiger. He’s unassuming and open, and despite his fifth place standing in the World Golf Rankings, he sees himself far from a worldwide superstar.

“I’m not Tiger Woods. I’m not Rory McIlroy,” Snedeker said. “I’m not going to be a guy that makes 100 cuts in a row or be an overpowering player. I’m going to be a guy that goes through ups and downs, and I realize that.”

Snedeker’s been in Augusta National contention before. In 2008, he spent the entire week on the leaderboard, ultimately finishing tied for third as Zach Johnson won the green jacket.

“I had no clue what I was doing in 2008,” Snedeker said slowly but excitedly beneath his visor. “I had no game plan, no idea of when to be aggressive, when not to be aggressive, how to play this golf course the way you’re supposed to play it.”

Well, no wonder you didn’t win five years ago, Brandt. You’re ready now though, right?

“I have a completely clear focus of what I need to do tomorrow. For me, I’ve got to drive the ball well. I don’t hit it far enough to play from the rough around here. If I drive the ball in the fairway and play the par 5s well, I’m going to have a really good day.”

OK, I’m convinced. Snedeker is ready — ready to have Bubba Watson drape green over his arms and shoulders, and ready to ascend into golf’s most elite class.

After all, he won the FedEx Cup — and the $10 million bonus winnings that comes with it — in 2012, and he won in Pebble Beach earlier this year.

Sunday, he faces his toughest test yet, and the title “Masters Champion” is on the line.

“I’m going to be disappointed if I don’t win. Period,” he said.

Three Australians (Adam Scott, Marc Leishman, Jason Day), the 2009 Champion (Angel Cabrera), and a spurned legend (Tiger Woods) will try to turn Sunday into a disappointment for Snedeker.

But I’m with you, Brandt. You won’t let it happen.



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