Snedeker in great form after hip surgery
SAN DIEGO – Brandt Snedeker is back in his comfort zone. That relates to both his office for the week, Torrey Pines, and his surgically repaired right hip. Put them together and you get someone who is walking with a strut instead of a limp.
Because of a congenital condition, the two-time PGA Tour winner underwent an operation in November on a torn right labrum, 11 months after undergoing a similar procedure on his left one.
“They did some bone shaving of pelvis and my femoral head,” Snedeker said.
Sounds bad until you check the scoreboard. It was serious enough to put him on crutches for five weeks. He didn’t start playing regularly until late December.
“It gave me a good break,” he said.
A refreshed Snedeker, 31, returned last week and was T-8 at the Humana Challenge. Now, he is in second place, one shot off Kyle Stanley’s lead, midway through the Farmers Insurance Open at his beloved Torrey Pines.
Snedeker followed an opening 67 on the more difficult South Course with a 64 on the North for 13 under. This is nothing new for him here. As a Tour rookie in 2007, he opened this event with a 61 on the North that featured a back-nine record of 27. He finished third that year, T-2 in 2010 and owns another top-10 here in five previous starts.
Little wonder he’s thinking about buying property nearby someday.
“It’s such a great place,” he said. “I guess I was born in California in my past life because I love it out here. ... My wife and I were talking the other day; if we retired, we maybe will get a place out here. I love being here.”
He loves golf at the moment, too, and why not?
Since the start of the 2011 season, no one has had more rounds of 64 or better on Tour than Snedeker, with seven. He has two more than the totals of Nick Watney, Ryan Moore and Brendon de Jonge.
One has to excel on the greens to shoot those scores, and that happens to be the streaky Snedeker’s specialty. In strokes gained-putting, he ranked fourth on Tour in 2009 and no worse than 20th in the past three years. He was second on Tour in one-putts in 2009 and ’10, and he led in fewest putts per round two years ago.
He’s at it again this week, leading the field in fewest putts midway.
“I get on streaks,” he said. “Especially on the greens. When I feel like I’m putting well, I feel like I can make just about everything.”
You want streaks, here they are: Snedeker made five consecutive birdies Friday and had six in a row last week in the third round at La Quinta Country Club.
“I’m certainly surprised that I played this well this fast,” he said. “Normally it takes me a while to get the rust off.”
It would appear Snedeker’s game is upwardly mobile at this stage. He won the Heritage last year and finished eighth in the FedEx Cup standings and 14th in the all-around statistical category.
The best news for him now is that he is driving the ball better than he has in his career. He credits the improvement to reverting to a natural draw after fading the ball for a few years.
Nor has balance been an enemy.
“At one point in my career, golf was my life,” he said. “Now that I realize it’s not everything, it’s actually helped me become a better golfer and makes me compartmentalize what I’m doing out here. I try my best, I’m working hard and I know I’m doing the right stuff.”