CASARES, Spain — Deprived of his clubs and sleep following an emergency landing en route to Spain, Brandt Snedeker’s first appearance in Spain isn’t exactly going as planned.
The 26th-ranked American’s journey from Miami to Madrid ahead of the World Match Play Championship in Spain was interrupted on Monday when his plane was forced to land after a passenger suffered a heart attack.
When he eventually arrived in Malaga on a connecting flight, he discovered his clubs and suitcase had been lost along the way, forcing him to use a makeshift set for Wednesday’s pro-am.
“It’s been weird,” Snedeker told The Associated Press in an interview at the Finca Cortesin course. “It’s been a long couple of days, but it’s worth it to get here.”
Snedeker — the only American in the tournament’s 24-man field — is hoping to have his clubs delivered in time for the first of his two matches at the round-robin stage, against Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn on Thursday. A good night’s sleep will come in handy as he starts his bid to become the first U.S. player to win the event since Mark O’Meara in 1998.
“We had to make the emergency landing in the middle of the ocean out in the Azores and spent three or four hours on the runway dealing with that situation,” said Snedeker, who missed the cut at The Players Championship last week. “So I’m a bit tired. I’m trying my best not to nap before tonight; that will be the main thing.”
Snedeker’s other opponent in the group stage is South African rookie Branden Grace, who already has won three events on the European Tour this year.
Snedeker took advantage of Kyle Stanley’s final-round meltdown to win the Farmers Insurance Open in a playoff in January, but his only top-10 finish since came at the Accenture Match Play Championship in the next month.
That bodes well for the $3.5 million event this week in Estepona, which will be played using the same match-play format. A successful few days by Snedeker will give U.S. team captain Davis Love III a nudge ahead of the Ryder Cup against Europe in September.
“I love match play,” said Snedeker, of Nashville, Tenn. “The one-on-one situations, when you can dictate the match by how you play, there is a lot of strategy involved.
“I love having one man to beat instead of 130-140 other guys. There’s a lot more pressure on every putt, which I kind of like.”
Snedeker missed out on selection for the 2010 Ryder Cup and is just outside the top eight on the U.S points list that will guarantee qualification for this year’s match at Medinah (Ill.) Country Club.
He thinks he’s in good shape to make the team for the first time.
“There’s a long way to go before that, but that’s a main goal of mine this year,” he said. “There’s a lot of golf left, but winning this week would be a step in the right direction.
“I’m trying to get back into form after missing the cut at the Players last week, but I’m not too far off. I have been playing some good golf, and my short game’s in good shape.”
The laid-back Snedeker should feel right at home in the sunny, relaxed environment of the southern Spanish coast.
“I love coming over to Europe, the culture and the lifestyle. It really is my cup of tea here. I just always play bad, for some reason,” said Snedeker, who has missed the cut in all three of his appearances at the British Open. “I’m going to really need those clubs to arrive.”