Beaufort News

Little girl brings stability, perspective to Snedeker

Under ordinary circumstances, what unfolded Sunday at Harbour Town Golf Links might qualify as a life-changing event for Brandt Snedeker.

On a steamy afternoon, Snedeker got hot, scorching a difficult course for a 7-under-par 64 to make up a six-shot deficit, then holding off would-be world No. 1 Luke Donald in a three-hole playoff for his second PGA Tour victory.

He ended a four-year drought between wins, much longer than anyone could have expected after his PGA Tour rookie of the year season in 2007, and he became $1,026,000 richer.

But the real life-changer happened for Snedeker some eight weeks ago. That's when his first child, a daughter named Lily, came into his life.

Suddenly, diapers were as much a part of his world as divots, and the pressure of the PGA Tour paled in comparison to the responsibilities of parenthood.

"I'm sure there's no secret that that's probably the reason why I won," Snedeker said. "Having that distraction. Having that, I guess, comfort at home. Knowing that I've got a family now and how special that is and how fortunate we are to have that."

This was my first Heritage as a father, too, and to have my son here on Saturday, to push him around the course in a stroller and see him turn a media credential into a teething toy was a time I will cherish.

I can only imagine what it must mean to Snedeker to know he will forever tie the day he slipped into a tartan jacket at Harbour Town -- one of his favorite courses on tour -- to the first couple months of his daughter's life.

Having children puts so many things into perspective, and that's something that clearly has had a positive effect on Snedeker's life -- and his golf game.

He had to withdraw after the first round of the Honda Classic last month, when his wife, Mandy, went into labor. Lily was early, and golf became secondary.

Whatever has happened since, Snedeker has harnessed into the best golf of his career. He took fourth at the Transitions Championship, tied for 15th at the Masters and was fourth at the Valero Texas Open with just one missed cut in between.

Then came Sunday, a day Snedeker began with little or no expectations. He had a 12:10 tee time, some 100 minutes before the leaders took the course, and he was more concerned about his travel plans than his title chances.

After a remarkable 64 on a day when difficult conditions knocked several big names off the leaderboard, Snedeker found himself sitting on the lead and having to wait around for two hours before a playoff.

Patience? Yeah, that's something that comes with parenthood, too. And it served Snedeker well.

"I give her full credit," Snedeker said. "She doesn't know it yet. She slept through the whole thing this afternoon. But I'll be able to see her before too long."

It will be years before she wonders why daddy was wearing that funny jacket, but when she finally asks, Lily Hayes Snedeker will be in for quite a story -- provided she doesn't sleep through it.