The hardest part for Brandt Snedeker about being hurt for most of the American summer was the uncertainty of when he would return to competitive golf. There’s something reassuring about “having a date, a time”, Snedeker said on Friday from his home in Nashville.
Those questions were answered last week when Snedeker’s doctor told him to go all-out in practice sessions after suffering a rare (for golfers) sternum joint injury that started flaring up at the Travellers Championship in June. It’s an injury that occurs mostly in football, not in professional golf.
Comfortable enough with his recovery progress, Snedeker says he’ll tee it up this week at the RSM Classic, the final official US PGA Tour event of the year, and then plans to play with Bubba Watson at the unofficial QBE Shootout in December.
Unable to swing a club for nine weeks, Snedeker was forced to sit out his favourite stretch of the tour schedule, missing the the British Open and US PGA Championship, three tournaments involving his sponsors (RBC Canadian Open, Bridgestone Invitational, Wyndham Championship) and, as a past winner of the FedEx Cup, the entire playoffs.
And then there was the Presidents Cup. Loving team competition so much, Snedeker knew he needed a distraction that week, so he took his family to Bakers Bay in the Bahamas and hardly watched the telecast – mostly because the event was such an early blowout.
“Any time you miss team competition is tough,” Snedeker said. “I love [US captain] Steve [Stricker] to death. I wanted to play on one of his teams, be with him. I was excited to see the guys step in and play the way they did, but I was missing the memories of being around the guys.”
Snedeker says he’s not 100 percent just yet (he’s still sore at the end of the day). Nor is he 100 percent comfortable with swing changes he’s been working on with instructor John Tillery (after parting ways with Butch Harmon in 2016) to help protect his chest from further injury. Thankfully, though, Snedeker encountered no issues practising at home.
“It’s kind of complicated, but there were some things in the swing that weren’t helping,” Tillery says. “We had things to change for function, and things to change for health, too. We have a little bit of a hybrid, making swing changes and changing things in his body, throughout the year. This is a little bit of a blessing.”
Making the decision to start playing again easier is the fact his return will come on courses that he’s familiar with. He used to live in the Sea Island area of Georgia, where the RSM Classic is being held, and he won the Shootout with Jason Dufner at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples in 2015.
Snedeker’s partnership with Watson stems from the two becoming tight when Bubba was an assistant captain assigned to Snedeker during the 2016 Ryder Cup. “We got really close after that and kept in touch on a weekly basis,” Snedeker said. “I’m so excited to be there. I’ll be nice to play with a guy that hits it 330 yards off the tee.”
Snedeker ranked 32nd in the world after Hartford, and now ranks 46th. He feels like the swing changes made with Tillery, a new workout program and the anti-inflammatory diet he’s been on, could lead to a big comeback year in 2018. He’s been given the date, the time.
“The only way to push it more,” he said, “was to get back out and play.”