An Interview With: BRANDT SNEDEKER
KELLY ELBIN: Fresh off his victory at the TOUR Championship and a huge payday by winning the FedExCup, Brandt Snedeker joining us at the 39th Ryder Cup. This will be Brandt's debut in the Ryder Cup. Must be a great feeling to be playing so well coming into your first Ryder Cup.
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Yeah, it's been a crazy couple days to say the least. So it's been nice to get here and kind of get back in the swing of things and get in competition mode again.
I've had a great couple first practice rounds around the golf course. Golf course is in great shape, and obviously game is pretty good. So just trying not to mess it up before Friday. So, so far, so good, and looking forward to what the week holds.
KELLY ELBIN: What's been your initial impression of being in a team environment for a change, as opposed to always being out playing for yourself?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: It's been great. This is my first time really spending a lot of time with a lot of guys on the team. The vice captains have been awesome, getting to know them a lot better and feeling comfortable and giving the guys on the team a hard time, and likewise.
So it's been nice to see them away from the golf course a little bit. I think we've had a great time in the team room, great time getting to know each other a lot better, and I think the team is really close, so it makes for a pretty good rest of the week.
Q. With this run that you've been on lately, first of all, what does that feel like in terms of confidence? And second of all, how anxious are you to get out there on the first tee on Friday morning?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Yeah, you know, I feel confidence right now obviously is at an all time high. I'm playing the best golf of my career, backed it up with taking a lead into Sunday last week and winning with the lead for the first time.
I beat some of the best players in the world last weekend. So I feel like my game is exactly where it needs to be. And Friday morning can't get here quick enough.
I feel like I'm wasting time getting ready the rest of the week. I'm ready to go. I'd love to tee it up tomorrow and play 36 a day and let's go; because I'm playing good and I want to get out there and try to get some points for Captain Love.
So it's just been about maintenance right now, trying not to get too tired.
Q. Everyone has spoken about the leadership of Davis and the vice captains, but I'm wondering if you can speak a little bit about the leadership of the veteran players, particularly Tiger and Phil.
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Yeah, I think those guys bring a lot to the team room. I think those guys lead in two completely different ways. Tiger has got a quiet confidence about himself and will give you tidbits here and there.
I think Phil is more of a cheerleader, pumping you up kind of guy, and Steve and Jim have been great, too.
We've had a bunch of great veterans in there that have played on a ton of Ryder Cup teams and have a ton of experience and do a great job of trying to get us prepared for what we're going to have to deal with on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
And I think they have done a great job of opening our eyes up a little bit. There's a lot of stuff that goes that I had no clue about: The way we should play and the way we should look at match play and stuff like that. And they've done a great job of getting us ready to be prepared to play against Europe.
Q. Wondering about your pre-shot routine. You seem to work fast, play fast, talk fast, and a week like this being a lot of pressure, that could be an advantage.
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Uh huh.
Q. Sometimes it can get a little quick. How do you kind of expect or have you thought about how you're going to deal during the week?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: No, I think last week was I've done a great job this year of a being a lot more patient than in the past, and making sure I'm not ready I don't go until I'm 100 percent ready.
I think you watch me play, it takes me a long time to get to get to that point. I'm a very quick player when I make up my mind, but it takes me a long time to get to that point. I've done a great job of that.
This week especially, pace of play does become an issue over the course of the tournament. We hear about how slow, and matches drag on for a long time; so be really, really patient and give myself plenty of time. And I'm going to do a good job of that, so I'm not too worried about it to be honest with you throughout the course of the week.
Q. You talked a little bit about Phil and Tiger. Davis was saying you and Phil have been giving each other the needle quite a bit.
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Yep.
Q. What's been the nature of that with Phil, and did you know Phil very well before this? And do you feel like you have more insight into him now?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Yeah, Phil and I have been pretty good friends for the past coupling years. We text each other all the time and give each other a hard time. I think that's kind of my role with Phil; as a veteran, I don't want him to walk all over me, and I want to let him know that I'm not afraid to give it back to him.
You know, he's just a funny he's a fun guy to give it back to because he can take it as well as he can give it. So we've been giving it back and forth all week, and I've been keeping him in line, making sure he's ready to go by Friday, and he's been doing the same thing for me. So it's been really fun.
Q. I know you've had some injuries you've battled through this year, big gap in play in the middle of the season. Could you have envisioned yourself in this spot now maybe back in April and May when you were struggling?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: You know, it's been a crazy year, to say that, on the least. I knew I was this good, and I knew especially at the end of last year I was playing some really, really good golf. I felt like my best golf was in front of me and then to have the hip surgery in the off season kind of set me back. And then I felt like I was starting all over again at the beginning of this year.
And then the win early in the year, got my confidence back, feel like I was playing great again, and it's just been an evolution.
The better you play, your expectations change and your goals change. If you told me at the beginning of the year that I was going to be FedExCup Champion, I probably would have told you that I did not see that coming. I don't see how I can be there.
As the year went on, I realized I was playing a lot better and better, and practicing more concisely and doing the right stuff a lot more often than I had in the past, and the results started coming more and more.
And then it's amazing when you believe in yourself 100 percent what can happen. And the last six weeks, I give myself all the credit in the world for believing 100 percent in what I'm doing and not backing down to anybody trying to play the best golf in the world, and I did a good job of that.
It's been a crazy 72 hours. I can't put into words what's been going on. It's just a dream come true, really.
Q. Obviously the U.S. came off second best at Celtic Manor. Just give us a sense of the hunger in the American team to win this thing, particularly in front of your own fans.
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Yeah, I think the biggest thing for us is not trying to put too much pressure on ourselves because there's so many guys in that room that want to win it for Davis. Because Davis, as anybody knows that's been around golf, knows that Davis is probably one of the best guys on the planet. Everybody on this team loves and respects Davis so much; and to play on a Ryder Cup on home on U.S. soil with him as your captain, you feel like you don't want to let him down.
He's done everything the right way his whole life. He deserves this week to be the captain, and if anybody on this planet deserves to win a Ryder Cup on U.S. soil, he does. So now our job is not to mess it up.
We're going to go try to have as fun as we can and make sure he looks like a genius all week and try to make this one of the best weeks of his life. And that's going to be a tough task, because the European team is playing fantastic, and they have a bunch of great guys on their team.
But there's just something about this team; I feel like the guys are really, really close and Davis is doing a great job of putting us in the positions where we feel comfortable.
Q. Two questions: One, as one who has just won the $10 million bonus, are you going to splurge on anything? And the second question is have you watched the Ryder Cup over the years, and if you have, what are the images that come to mind?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I'm not going to splurge on anything. It is not going to affect me one way or the other. I know it sounds crazy, but it's really not.
And the Ryder Cup is just I remember watching it growing up. I remember watching Davis and Freddie be teammates; Seve and José being teammates, beating up on the U.S.; watching the Corey Pavins and Tom Lehmans and the guys, the Payne Stewarts, seeing the passion they played with.
I remember getting every Friday, watching it all day, just going crazy. And then Saturday and Sunday was so much fun.
So it's kind of crazy to think that I'm on that TV this time. I'm out there with other kids watching me do what I'm supposed to be doing. And it's going to be a lot of pressure on myself because I want to perform under this; I want to show everybody that I am playing some great golf right now, and it's just going to be a lot of fun.
It's going to be very, very tough for me to stay in the moment, to do the small stuff you need to do to play well, and I'm trying to focus 100 percent of my energy to being ready to play Friday morning.
Q. Kind of a follow up to that, you talked about wanting Friday to be here now and keeping the emotions in check. How do you do that and not get too amped up?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Yeah, I've done a great job of getting away from the golf course. There's so much stuff you can do here, you can sign autographs all day, you can I've got friends and family here.
You want to be on the golf course practicing as much as you possibly can, but I equate it to a normal tournament week or a major week. Wednesdays are typically a pretty light day, which this week is Thursday. Tuesdays are kind of our day to really get out and be practice, so that's Wednesday this week. So today was our day to really practice.
Tomorrow is going to be a real light day. Try to get as much rest as I possibly can, because there's a possibility you could play 36 holes a day two days in a row. That'll wear you out physically and mentally; and especially after last week I'm pretty exhausted.
So I made sure I got plenty of rest last night, plenty of rest the night before, and just trying to do as little as possible so I'm ready by Friday.
Q. Tiger has had a good season but not maybe one of his better seasons. Where do you see his confidence right now, and him coming to a course where he's had a lot of success, how much do you think that helps a player like him?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I think it helps a ton. I played a practice round with him yesterday. He's playing great. I don't see any panic in him at all.
I think he's going to be a very, very tough guy to beat this week. He knows this golf course very, very well. He's hitting the ball extremely solid. And he's got a little edge to him. I think he's going to be a guy that you do not want to face at any point this week on the European team. I look for him to play really, really well.
Q. You spoke earlier about making Davis look like a genius, and you surely have done that the last few weeks
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Not yet. Not yet.
Q. Put it this way: Coming into the Ryder Cup, you couldn't have made his decision look any smarter. Just talk about from the time that he honored you with that selection to last weekend and the motivation, the confidence that you must have drawn from that coming into the Ryder Cup.
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Yeah. I think the biggest thing that Davis told me was that I drew a lot of confidence from is not only him and all the captains but every player on the team wanted me on the team. He said everybody was excited about me being on the team and they really wanted me to be there with them.
When you have the respect of your peers and the guys you play against every week, that means a lot. So I took a lot of confidence in that and also took a lot of personal pride in the fact that Davis did stick his neck on the line.
Any time a guy is picked, you're opening yourself up to any kind of criticism. So I want to make sure that I do everything in the world to make sure that he does not get any criticism for that.
Davis has been like an uncle to me. He's done so much for me throughout my career that this week is all about trying to make sure that he has one of the best weeks of his life, and I'm going to do everything in the world to make sure that that happens.
Q. You've said in the past that the birth of your baby daughter helped to inspire your game.
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Yeah.
Q. How does it feel knowing you've got another kid coming along next month, and am I right in thinking Mrs. Snedeker is here? You're not going to excite her too much this week?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: You know, as excited as I was for the first baby, I'm terrified for the second one because I don't know exactly what to expect. Everybody kind of freaks me out a little bit saying if you thought one was hard, wait until two.
That being said, we're making sure she is very, very comfortable this week. We don't want to have anything happen this week; although if she were to go into labor this week, that would be fine with us. Great hospitals here. We'd love to have the baby here; Ryder Cup week would be a great story to tell the rest of our lives.
I'd prefer for that not to happen, but if it does, we'll deal with it. She's been a trooper. She loves being up here and she's going to try to cheer us on as much as possible and have a lot of fun this week.
Q. You've been hoping to play an American team like this for a number of years. What so far this week has gone the way you thought it might be and what's been kind of different compared to what you thought it would be?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: The one thing I was shocked about is I wasn't really as nervous as I thought I was going to be yesterday being out here for the first time. I think last weekend put my nerves at ease a lot for sure, knowing that I can handle the pressure.
I also think that I've gotten nervous over different stuff this week, which I didn't think. We saw a great video last night of past Ryder Cup captains talking about what the Ryder Cup meant to them, and I got goosebumps. I got up and told Davis: I wasn't nervous until tonight, thanks a lot, appreciate that; way to put me at ease.
Just I think as the week goes on, the anxiety has gotten more and more each day. I think the one thing I didn't have any clue about was the team room. The team room has been awesome.
It's been really fun to be in there with those guys and see them competing and giving each other a hard time and getting it's been something I didn't know what to expect.
Q. You talked about reevaluating your goals earlier. What goals do you now have?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: It's very simple: I think the way this year has gone, if I keep improving, I don't see any reason why I can't challenge to be a top player in the world. People might think that's crazy talk, but I don't, after the way I played the last six weeks, I think I proved that I can do that.
. I think I've got a great plan in place. I'm not reinventing the wheel here. I don't need to have any major overhauls in my golf swing or try to redo something. I think what I'm doing is working just fine. I'm getting better each year. So keep improving; that's where I want to be.
I got better last year. As great as last year I was, I got even better this year, and I look forward to next year being my best year ever. Just keep plugging along and doing what I'm doing.
Q. As one who seems to be a polite young man from Tennessee, I'm curious when you first mixed it up with Phil through text, details of that first missive, and was that difficult for you to fire back?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Not at all.
Q. And along those lines, where do you get your edge from, because you seem to have one when you play.
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I definitely have an edge. Definitely have an edge. Anybody that knows me really well knows that I'm not afraid to tell people what I really think and tell people how I really feel.
I'm very, very competitive. People don't get that, because I'm polite; but I tee it up on Friday here, I'm trying to tee it up against anybody, I'm going to try to beat their brains in as bad as I can.
Phil, I just have a fun time giving people a hard time, especially guys like Phil and Tiger, some of the best guys in the world. I feel like sometimes they get a hall pass because they are who they are, and I want to make sure they don't get a hall pass. And I don't care. So I give them a hard time and they give it right back and I take it. If I give it to them hard, I've take it hard, and I do. I have a lot of fun with them that way.
KELLY ELBIN: Brandt Snedeker, congratulations again, and thank you.
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