LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England — There were tears from Brandt Snedeker the last time he came close in a major. Will there be tears of joy or sorrow on Sunday night?
Snedeker took control of the 141st Open Championship with a 6-under 64 to stand at 10 under and take a one-shot lead over Adam Scott. His 130 total matches the low 36-hole record set by Sir Nick Faldo at Muirfield in 1992. Moreover, Snedeker hasn’t made a bogey over 36 holes.
Just one question. Where did this come from?
Anyone looking for a links specialist wouldn’t have chosen Snedeker – except perhaps his immediate family. Snedeker was 0-for-3 in cuts made in three previous Open appearances. He’d never scored better than 70, which he recorded in the second round at Royal St. George’s last year.
His scoring average was 74.16 for his previous six Open Championship rounds. No wonder one bookmaker had him listed as a 175-1 long shot to take the title. Not many golf fans will have wagered money on Snedeker to become the “Champion Golfer of the Year.”
Snedeker is benefiting from a lush, green golf course that looks more like his hometown of Nashville than Lytham St. Annes, England.
“Call it the Americanization of this golf course, I guess, the softness of it, that’s played a factor. It would be stupid to say it hasn’t,” Snedeker said. “I’ve never seen balls spin at a British Open before, and they are spinning this week.
“Having said that, it’s still a links golf course. You’ve still got to get your ball around it.”
Besides his previous lack of links prowess, Snedeker has been battling injury recently. He had to pull out of The Memorial after 36 holes last month with a rib injury. The same ailment kept him out of the U.S. Open at The Olympic Club.
However, he’s back to full fitness and played in the Greenbrier Classic two weeks ago, finishing T-38.
Snedeker won the Farmers Insurance Open in January, but hasn’t finished better than T-17 in a stroke-play event since.
After his opening 66, the three-time PGA Tour winner got his second round off to the best possible start when he hit a 4-iron to 20 feet at the 206-yard, par-3 first hole and made the birdie putt to move to 5 under. He holed a 45-foot birdie putt at the 6th, made short birdie putts at the 7th and 9th before rolling in a couple of 20-footers at Nos. 11 and 12 to move to 10 under.
“I’m making every 25-footer I look at, so that makes it easier,” Snedeker said. “From the first day I stepped on these greens I had a great feel for the pace. These are the best greens I’ve putted on in a British Open. They feel almost like poa annua (greens) back in the States.
“I think that’s the big reason I played so well.”
The 32-year-old wept when he finished third in the 2008 Masters. He finished four shots behind Trevor Immelman, but couldn’t console himself for letting a golden chance slip away. Four years later, he feels it was all part of his golfing education.
“I took out if it that no matter how much I talked it down, a major does mean a lot out here. To watch Trevor handle the emotions and play the way he did the last 18 really taught me a lot about what you’re going to have to go through.
“It wasn’t easy that day at Augusta. It was real tough.
“This weekend I feel prepared. I’ve been in some pretty tight spots in the States and I’ve been in some playoffs against the best players in the world. I kind of know what pressure feels like.”
Snedeker claims to be the most level-headed guy when he’s on the fairways, but admits he’s not afraid to show his emotions.
“I don’t mind telling people how I feel and showing my emotions. If I’m upset or mad you’re going to know about it. And if I’m crying you’re going to see me cry.”
Whether or not he can get both hands on the old Claret Jug and cry tears of joy remains to be seen.