What's Standing Between Brandt Snedeker and His First Career Major Victory?

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What's Standing Between Brandt Snedeker and His First Career Major Victory?
USA TODAY Sports
Brandt Snedeker (right) started quickly in 2013 and figured to battle Tiger Woods.

The answer to this question seems to be very simple.

There appear to be only two things capable of keeping the popular native of Memphis out of the majors winner circle.

One goes by the name of Tiger Woods.

The other goes by the name “low-bone turnover.”

The first is fairly self-explanatory. The world’s No. 1 player is on his game again, and that’s not only bad news for Snedeker, but also for every other player who fancies himself a serious contender in a major.

If Woods’ game is as close to the level necessary to start winning majors again, that too is bad news. At his best, Woods dominated the majors like the 2-handicapper in the club championship.

Snedeker, ranked fifth in the world and a five-time winner on the PGA Tour, has the game to win big tournaments—the guy did win the Tour Championship and the accompanying FedEx Cup last fall, and the $11 million he won for doing that qualifies the event as a big tournament.

He has five top-10 finishes in majors, including a pair of thirds—the 2008 Masters and the Open Championship.

Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Brandt Snedeker was in the hunt on Sunday afternoon in the Masters.

He’s one of the best putters on the PGA Tour, which is a skill that’s an absolute must in major championships. He led the tour in the strokes gained putting stat last year.

The man hits fairways and greens at an amazing pace—top 15 on the PGA Tour in both categories.

Snedeker’s length off the tee (his average off the tee is 278.7) is 148th, and it definitely makes things a bit tougher for him.

What will make it most tough, however, will be Woods’ re-emergence as a threat in the majors. If he does, the opportunities to win for other players diminish.

And then there’s the low-bone turnover thing.

The human body is designed so bones re-grow to some degree every year. This regeneration keeps bones healthy and strong, but in people like Snedeker, it doesn’t happen quickly enough and bones get brittle and even break.

In Snedeker’s case, there have been four broken ribs in the last six years.

Snedeker started 2013 as the hottest golfer on the planet, finishing no worse than third in four of his first five events. The last of those five was a grinding win in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Can Brandt Snedeker win the U.S. Open at Merion?

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“I hit a drive on 14, the par 5, and looked at my caddie and said, 'That’s it, man. I’ve got nothing else. I feel like I’ve been stabbed',” Snedeker told Alan Bastable of golf.com last week.

“I could get [the club] back okay, but on the way through, it just felt like I was pulling the bone away from the sternum or something.”

Snedeker has been tested from stem-to-stern, and also before doctors were able to determine exactly what his problem was.

Now, he’s been injecting himself with a drug that doctors hope will strengthen those ribs and allow him to play golf without the fear of another broken bone over the course of the next couple years.

Snedeker is as wonderful a person as he is a quality player. If there is anyone who “deserves” a major, it’s a guy like Snedeker, although I don’t believe anyone deserves to win a major title. Those are earned through an arduous test.

Should he win one, his best chance would seem to be at Augusta National, where his excellence with the flat stick would be a great advantage.

But that’s also a place where Woods has been very good as well, winning four times and being very close to doing so this year.

In the immediate future, the U.S. Open at Merion would seem to be a good one for Snedeker if he’s healthy.

The course is short and won’t require bombs off the tee, but it will require precision iron play and pinpoint putting, aspects of the game that are strengths of Snedeker’s.

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