Doctors Baffled on Snedeker Rib Injuries; He Returns at Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill

Kathy BissellCorrespondent IMarch 19, 2013

Brandt Snedeker won at Pebble Beach, but had pulled rib muscles that sidelined him for five weeks.
Brandt Snedeker won at Pebble Beach, but had pulled rib muscles that sidelined him for five weeks.Harry How/Getty Images

Orlando, FL -- Brandt Snedeker had finished third in the season opener, finished second twice—once to Tiger Woods and once to Phil Mickelson—and won at Pebble Beach. Then he pulled some rib muscles and has been sidelined since.  For the last five weeks, he’s been a professional watcher.  He watched golf on TV while his family move everything into a new house.

Snedeker’s had rib injuries in the past, so it’s not uncharted territory. He had cracked ribs on his right side last year.  This time, it was on the left side, an intercostal muscle strain.

“I’ve had about every test run you can possible have,” Brandt Snedeker said about his problem ribs.  “The good news is I’m completely healthy, and the bad news is I’m completely healthy.” 

Doctors are mystified as to why he tends to have rib injuries.

“I was kind of hoping something would creep up that would lead me to see why his keeps happening, and nothing came up.”

Amazingly, even with his five-week hiatus, Snedeker is currently the PGA Tour leading money winner.

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Immediately after the injury, it hurt him to breathe or move. After three or four days the pain was manageable.   Doctors told him it could be two to eight weeks, and this is number five.  He said he was fine last week, but decided to give himself one more week just to be on the safe side.

"It’s been tough being away because I was playing so good and missed a lot of great tournaments and great venues that I love,” he added.

Unfortunately, thick rough, like that at Bay Hill, can be bad on injured ribs.   However, he has already tested it, practicing for four straight days. So far there are no twinges.   What he does expect to have is a little rust in his game.

“The places I need to work are short game,” he added. “The greens here are very firm.  The rough is very thick. That is something you can only get used to with repetitions.”

The advantage he has is that he is rested. 

“I haven’t played in five weeks, and I‘m probably one of the guys that is really excited about the next stretch of golf.”

That includes The Masters, which he was concerned he might miss.  He admitted it was tough last year when he missed the US Open due to a rib problem.

“That was really tough for me to sit there and watch that because that was a place I really wanted to play.”

He did not want to miss this year’s Masters, but when the injury materialized he took the long view.

“The Masters is obviously important, but I’m not going to jeopardize the British Open, the PGA, the rest of the year on making sure I can play The Masters,” he said “I’m in this thing for the next 10 years.  I’ve got to make sure I do the smart stuff for my body going forward.”

He also said he didn’t want to play Augusta National when he was only 90 percent. Snedeker might be the only one on the planet to say that.  Most people would play if they had to crawl around it.

He did find one advantage to his injury.  His family moved into a new house in Nashville while he was injured. He did not lift any boxes. 

“I actually felt guilty,” he admitted. “I told them where to move it and how to unpack it.”

He also watched a lot of golf on TV. 

“I’m a fan,” he said. “I love watching what the guys are doing.  I had fun watching Tiger at Doral.  I had fun watching Streelman last week get his first win.”

But he’ll have more fun if he’s in contention at Bay Hill on Sunday.

“I just want to get in position to have a good weekend again.”

Kathy Bissell is a Golf Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand or from official interview materials from the USGA, PGA Tour or PGA of America.