GULLANE, Scotland – Brandt Snedeker is a big believer in omens. He’s hoping one delivers him the Open Championship this week.
Snedeker is 32. That happens to be the same age as Adam Scott and Justin Rose were when they won the first two majors of the year.
“I’ve been told that a few times, and I love it,” Snedeker said. “The precedent is set. Now the hard part is making sure it keeps going. I’ll take any little quirky thing and use it in my favor.”
Snedeker held the 36-hole lead at Royal Lytham last year before fading over the weekend. Still, he eventually placed third to equal his best finish in a major. He also placed third in the 2008 Masters.
A year on, the easygoing Snedeker says he has gained a lot from his Lytham experience.
“I’ve learned a lot in the last four majors, really since then,” he said. “Just about the patience that’s required and the process you have to go through and how unimportant each individual shot is, but when you add them up they are extremely important.
“The hardest thing to do in a major championship is be patient for 72 holes and never push the panic button. The guy that wins this week will not do that.”
Snedeker, of Nashville, Tenn., isn’t exactly the patient type. He plays with a quick rhythm that more Tour pros would do well to copy. However, patience on a links such as Muirfield is knowing when to play smart and when to go for it.
“I’m talking about shooting away from pins, taking less club off tees, being conservative when you want to be aggressive because you made a bogey, not trying to go after pins that you shouldn’t go after, trying to make incredible up and downs when you might not be able to get out of the bunker. That’s being patient.”
Snedeker says he didn’t lose last year’s Open Championship because he got impatient. He lost because he still wasn’t comfortable with some of the vagaries of proper links golf.
“I just made too many typical American mistakes. The first two days I had no wind really, and I played great golf. The last 36 holes I drove the ball terribly. If you do that in any major championship, you’re going to play terrible.
“I tried to ride the wind too many times,” he said. “You’ve got to hold the ball up against the wind. Stuff like that. I just failed to execute the basic shots off the tee.”
Snedeker, the 2012 FedEx Cup champion, is playing in his fourth Open in the past five years (he missed the 2010 Open at St. Andrews). He says he now has a deeper understanding of links golf.
“I have a lot more appreciation now than I did the first time I played. I realize the nuances, the different shots you need to hit and how uncookie-cutter this kind of golf is.
“It brings out some imagination. It’s a lot of fun to play this kind of golf. We don’t get to do it very often.”
Snedeker might be here to try to win his first major, but that doesn’t mean he’s gone uber-serious. He’s not tucked up in bed every night at 9. He was seen Monday night in a local pub in North Berwick trying a few sups of Scottish beer.
“I always try to find a spot this week for a few pints and enjoy the locals (pubs).”
He might just fill up the old Claret Jug with a Scottish brew at the end of the week. That’s if that omen proves correct.