Snedeker talks putter switch at U.S. Open

Brandt Snedeker changed putters for the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

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U.S. Open

Pinehurst (N.C.) Resort (No. 2)

6/12/2014 - 6/15/2014

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1 Martin Kaymer $1,620,000 600 -9
2 Erik Compton $789,330 270 -1
2 Rickie Fowler $789,330 270 -1
4 Henrik Stenson $326,310 115 +1
4 Jason Day $326,310 115 +1
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PINEHURST, N.C. – Brandt Snedeker has used the same Odyssey White Hot XG Rossie putter since 2006, but not this week at the U.S. Open. He switched to a Bridgestone Golf TD-02 True Balance putter and drained six birdies in a roller-coaster first round of 1-under 69 Thursday at Pinehurst No. 2.

Where is his usual gamer this week?

“Stuck in the trunk, trying to learn its lessons,” Snedeker said.

Snedeker is reputed to be one of the best putters on the PGA Tour. But this year he has had an ongoing dispute with the short stick. Snedeker, who ranked first in strokes gained-putting in 2012 and fourth last year, has dropped to 56th this season in that putting statistic.

Snedeker said he previously had used only three putters in his life. He was spotted practicing with an Odyssey Versa Rossie at the WGC-Match Play in February before getting cold feet and sticking with his longtime gamer. But this week he pulled the trigger, noting his putting hasn’t met his standards during the past six months, and it is the biggest reason why he has just one top-10 finish this season.

“It worked great today," Snedeker said. "Made a lot of 15-, 20-footers, which I've been struggling with from that distance, 10-to-20-footers, and made a bunch of them today.”

In some ways, Snedeker with a different putter – at a major, no less – is a shocking development. When asked at the 2013 RBC Canadian Open whether he had switched his putter at any point since he began using his trusty Odyssey, Snedeker replied, “Never, no. It's not the arrow of the Indian. As much as I try to blame that putter on not putting good, it's always me, and it's kind of nice to know that if something is going wrong, I can blame me, not the putter. The putter has worked before; it's going to work again.”

Snedeker hasn’t totally changed his tune. He said the Bridgestone model is a mallet with a polymer insert that resembles his Odyssey.

“It’s a little softer and comes off the face a little slower,” Snedeker said. “I just needed to look at something a little different.”

There’s no argument with the early returns. Snedeker raced to the lead with four birdies and no bogeys on the front side to shoot 31.

“I had no illusions in my mind, shooting 4 (under) on the front nine,” he said. “I knew it wasn’t going to be a cake walk today.”

Snedeker made his first bogey at 10, then doubled the par-4 11th when he thinned a 5-iron and hit the lip of the fairway bunker. Another bogey at 12 and all the good work on the front nine was erased.

Snedeker bounced back with a birdie on 13 and counted his lucky stars when his birdie putt at 16 found the bottom of the cup.

“I hit it a little too hard – probably would’ve gone 5 feet by – and went right in the middle of the hole,” Snedeker said. “You don't plan on birdieing 16, and to steal that one there is really big.”

The Bridgestone putter wasn’t quite perfect. On 17, he decelerated and pushed a shorty for a three-putt bogey from 20 feet. He toured the back nine in 38.

“My speed was definitely off a little bit on the back nine,” Snedeker said. “As the greens got faster, I didn't adjust and hit some poor putts coming in.”

Meanwhile, Snedeker’s trusty Odyssey is on site but remains in the penalty box.

“Hopefully it's learning,” he said.

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