Golf Academy at West Haven
Virgil Herring, 2002, 2003, 2005 & 2006 Middle-TN PGA Teacher of the Year and 2003 TN PGA Section Teacher of the Year.

Byron Nelson showing bolsters Snedeker's confidence
By JOE BIDDLE
The Tennessean Sports Writer

For an unemployed college graduate, Brandt Snedeker's plate sure is piled high. He was taking a lesson from Higher Performance Golf Academy Director Virgil Herring yesterday at Springhouse. Herring has worked with him since Snedeker's days at Vanderbilt.

Snedeker will be playing Monday at Knoxville's Cherokee Country Club, trying to qualify for next month's U.S. Open.

From the he moves to Memphis for next week's FedEx St. Jude Classic.

Unlike most Vandy graduates who pursue careers in law, medicine or perhaps politics, Snedeker is chasing golf balls around the country.

When he left the Byron Nelson Championship last week, Snedeker had an extra $39,440 in his pockets. Snedeker fired a 69 on the final day, a round which matched the great Tiger Woods. It left Snedeker only six shots behind the leaders.

This was not some off-shoot tournament. Sergio Garcia won in a three-way playoff. The field included Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, Mark O'Meara, John Daly, Justin Leonard and Kenny Perry. Missing the cut were current Masters champion Phil Mickleson and former PGA champion Rich Beem.

When he had every reason to fold, Snedeker hung tough. It proved what those who have seen his game evolve to this point, believed all along: Brandt Snedeker has game.

"A lot of these guys make a living because they are really, really good at one thing," Herring said. "Some of them are great drivers, great putters, great short game. Brandt is pretty strong everywhere. He has a pretty balanced game and there aren't many balanced games out there."

Herring said missing the cut in his first two PGA Tour tournaments wore down Snedeker's confidence. It all returned with his performance in the Byron Nelson. " I feel like I belong out here new," Snedeker said. "I was playing against some of the best players in the world. Just going out there, hitting golf shots, seeing them hit golf shots and knowing on any day I can play as good as 90 person of them out there. It's against putting up numbers against someone new. Now I'm playing against Tiger, Vijay, those guys. I go in the Byron Nelson and in the second round have the second low round (66) of the day.

"I know my game's as good as anybody's out there."

Snedeker turned professional the day after the Masters, in which he was one of only two amateurs to make the cut.

Snedeker doesn't have a PGA Tour card. He has seven tournaments in which to finish among the top 125 in money earned to be fully exempt for next season. If he lands in the top 150, he earns partial exemption. If he falls short, it will be off to Qualifying School.

Q- school is one of the most rigorous, nerve-wracking tests in all of sports.

Snedeker knows the odds may be against him, but is confident he can avoid Q- school. "At first I think he was in awe," Herring said. "Now, he realizes he can play."

What makes golf a great sport is that it doesn't reward you for who you are, or what you have done. It's all based on how you play.

Joe Biddle is a sports columnist for The Tennessean. He can be reached at 259-8255 or e-mail jbiddle@tennessean.com

  • For information on Virgil Herring's instructional video, click here.
  • If you have a question concerning an area of the golf swing or the short game, click here to email Higher Performance Golf Academy.
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