When Brandt Snedeker sat down in the interview room after his incredible come-from-behind victory over Luke Donald at The Heritage, he chuckled, like he was sharing an inside joke with himself. That’s because he was. “I literally couldn’t envision sitting in this room when I teed off at noon,” opened Snedeker. “I didn’t have really any expectations today at all.”
Snedeker teed off nearly two hours earlier and rallied from six shots back to beat Donald in a riveting three-hole playoff — and denied the Englishman of the No. 1 ranking (which Lee Westwood will retake after winning in Indonesia earlier in the day). He got off to a hot start, rolling in three consecutive birdies in the first four holes. And then he added two more on Nos. 6 and 7. Suddenly, he was on the first page of the leaderboard and I decided to catch him at the turn. My plan was to walk a few and then trail back to follow the leaders, but Sneds was playing so well it was hard to pull myself away.
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA — I know I’ve been such a tease after I posted Part I of “Jason Day and Jason Day’s Wife Unplugged,” and made you wait four whole days for Part II. (Sorry!) Alright, ready to see the inside of the bus? It’s a little longer than the first segment, but that’s only because Jason wanted to give a very thorough tour. If for some reason you can’t sit through five whole minutes, then at least be sure to check out the last 30 seconds or so — it’s pretty funny and you’ll learn more about Jason’s off-the-course personality.
Luke Donald battled back from a rough start in the third round at Harbour Town to regain his position atop the leaderboard at The Heritage. Now, only one round separates Donald, currently the world’s No. 3, from reaching the No. 1 spot in the rankings. He recovered from a double bogey on the second hole to shoot one-under 70 and hold the 54-hole lead by one over defending champion Jim Furyk, who carded two-under 69.
World No. 3 Luke Donald wasn’t pleased with his tee shot on the par-3 No. 17. He pushed a long iron to the front-right fringe, coming up well short of the back pin. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that Donald, who is ranked third in scrambling, would convert for par — at the very least, you can never count out the possibility that he’ll chip in. And he nearly did, knocking a bump-and-run to tap-in distance.
Donald fired a six-under 65 at Harbour Town in the second round to take the lead at the halfway mark of The Heritage. If Donald is still atop the leaderboard when Sunday rolls around, he’ll dethrone Martin Kaymer as the No. 1 player in the world rankings.
Raise your hand if you picked Jason Day in your Fantasy Golf line-up for The Heritage. /raising hand. I’m sure there are quite a few hands in the air. Well, so far, it’s proving to be a great decision. Listening to Day speak in his pre-tourney press conference and learning about his new mental coach, I wasn’t surprised that his fantastic play is carrying over from the Masters, where he finished T2 in his first start at Augusta. Day followed his opening two-under 69 and fired a sizzling eight-under 65 at Harbour Town during the second round of The Heritage.
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA — On Wednesday evening I stopped by Motorcoach Resort, the RV park for PGA Tour players at The Heritage, to visit with Jason Day and his wife Ellie (whom you may know as “Jason Day’s wife” from Sunday at the Masters) and hang in their bus.
The Days, along with their dogs Charlie and Lola, stay in their home away from home, during tournament weeks. (No, they don’t usually drive it themselves from one city to another — the Tour has a service.) “It’s certainly made me a lot of money,” said Jason, prompting Ellie to chime in and clarify why they prefer RV life (see video). Classic husband-wife moment!
Ernie Els set aside his pride and broke out the belly putter, an Odyssey White Hot XG#1, for the first time in competition during the first round of The Heritage. Earlier in the week, he was “seriously considering it,” but he had to cope with his mental angst and see which he preferred in practice.
When I saw he was 3-over on the front, I hoped he’d play better on the back nine since I knew he wouldn’t feel like talking afterward if he had a bad day. He nearly holed out from the fairway on his last hole (No. 9) and tapped in for birdie to get to two-over. Well, at least he ended on a good note, so maybe he’d be in decent spirits. Fingers crossed!
I know I should have posted this last weekend, but I dropped the ball and I was reminded of it this afternoon at Harbour Town, site of The Heritage.
At last week’s Texas Valero Open, Cameron Tringale, Rickie Fowler’s roommate, was in contention. Throughout the tournament, Rickie was cheering on Cam via Twitter. Golf Channel’s Kelly Tilghman asked Rickie what he’d get him if he won and Rickie replied, “I will buy him some balloons.” I got a good crack because I assumed he was referring to this interview during the Steve Marino Ping Pong Invitational, where Cam makes up a rambling story about how he and Rickie met.
Add Ernie Els to the growing list of PGA Tour players that may jump on the long putter bandwagon. Els started toying around with a belly putter while practicing at the Masters a few weeks ago. At The Heritage this week, he might take it a step further and actually put it in his bag for tournament play on Thursday. While those close to Els have been encouraging him to make the change, he’s been reluctant for several reasons, including overcoming the stigma attached to long putters.
“I’m old school,” Els said during a candid chat on Tuesday at Harbour Town Golf Links. “I’ve been around a long time and it used to be that whenever you go to a long putter, it meant that you had the yips or you had something really wrong with your putting.”