USA TODAY US Edition
Mellower Snedeker excels
Daughter’s birth in 2011 gives her dad fresh outlook
Looking on, one never got a sense that Brandt Snedeker was ever in a pitched battle with anger issues, that there were moments he was gnashing his teeth, banging his head against his golf bag and taking his unsatisfactory work home with him.
Not with that boyish mug, the strawberry blond mop, the easy grin.
But inside, Snedeker would seethe, so much that he would take out his frustration on those closest to him — and on the golf ball. Not knowing any better, when he was on the north side of par or his iron play was ajar, he would spend hours on end on the range, thinking he would hit his way out of bad play.
A tiny package, however, arrived last year that changed his approach, his play and his perspective. Coming in at 5 pounds, 14 ounces and 18 inches long, Lily Hayes Snedeker changed everything for her daddy.
“My life is completely different,” Snedeker said. “I used to live and die by the way I played golf. My attitude was based on the way I was playing. If I played good, I was a fun guy to be around. If I played bad, no person wanted to be around me. I let bad golf drive me crazy. But then she was born.”
Lily came into the world March 3, 2011, the first child for Snedeker and wife Mandy. Snedeker bolted the 2011 Honda Classic after the first round to catch a plane and made it to a Nashville hospital just in time for the birth.
Seven weeks later, he shot a final-round 64 to wipe out a six-shot deficit and beat world No. 1 Luke Donald on the third playoff hole to win the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island, S.C.
“People who know me will tell you that because of her, I practice smarter,” said Snedeker, 31, back to defend his title starting today. “I think I used to practice myself into slumps. Before her, I beat balls all day because I thought that’s how I’d get better. And it’s not. You get better by making your practice count and by getting away and relaxing and having some fun.
“I don’t live and die with every shot. The win at the Heritage was a re-emergence for me, to beat Luke when he was playing as well as anyone, to show myself that I could be one of the top players.
“Because of her, I had my best year of my career, and I have a feeling that this year is going to be even better.”
He just might be right. Earlier this year, Snedeker picked up his second win since Lily was born and the third win of his career when he defeated Kyle Stanley in a playoff in the Farmers Insurance Open, which bumped him up to a careerhigh world ranking of No. 15.
He’s won $1.672 million, just a spot out of the top 10. And he’s made the cut in all nine starts.
“When you come home and see her and she looks back at you, it doesn’t matter if you shot 80 or 60. She wants to play and have fun with her dad. And that instantly puts a smile on my face,” he said. “She smiles, and it just melts your heart.”
Now, instead of hitting 10 buckets of balls, he plays with ducks and bubbles.
“I give her a bath every day,” he said. “That’s our daddy-daughter time.”
He’ll spend more of that time at home. Snedeker said he would cut his playing and practice schedule, teeing up in about 25 tournaments instead of 32.
“I’ll play less now,” said Snedeker, who has had surgery on both of his hips. “I think my surgeries were in direct relation to how much I played and practiced. Now I’ll be smarter about both.
“And that will be easier to do with Lily around.”