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American odds-on favorite for rookie award

Photo: Jonathan Ernst/WireImage.com

Snedeker shot a 9-under 63 during his final round to claim a two-stroke victory at the Wyndham Championship

COOLUM, Australia (AP) — Brandt Snedeker"s outstanding first year on the U.S. PGA Tour has seen him cash checks worth US$2.8 million (1.91 million), win a tournament and finish in the top 10 in five others.

That"s made the 26-year-old American an odds-on favorite for the tour"s rookie-of-the-year award after being the highest-placed first-year player on both the money list (17th) and the FedEx Cup points standings (9th).

Not that he"s heard anything one way or the other.

"I have no clue, I thought it would have happened by now,"" Snedeker said Tuesday at the Australian PGA. "I keep hearing different dates, and hopefully before too long we"ll hear. I think I"ve won it but I"m not 100 percent sure till it comes out.""

Snedeker never had a chance to vote - even for himself. He spent two weeks in Japan after an eight-week layoff following the Tour Championship and will have spent three weeks in Australia before flying home after next week"s Australian Open in Sydney.

"I didn"t get it (the rookie award balloting) before I came out,"" Snedeker said. "I"m hoping my fellow tour players will eke me in. It would be a great honor.""

And if he loses by one vote? "I"m sure I"ll be kicking myself later,"" he said, laughing.

Snedeker flew into the Sunshine Coast for a few practice rounds on the Hyatt Regency resort course after a week on the Great Barrier Reef off the resort town of Port Douglas in north Queensland.

Snorkeling and fishing - a few coral trout on the end of the hook among others - put him in a pleasant frame of mind.

"I had a blast, I was happy and sad to come here,"" Snedeker said. "It was great to see the Great Barrier Reef. I wish I had a couple more days to go up there and snorkel, but with my skin complexion I wouldn"t have lasted too long.""

His time away from golf gave Snedeker a chance to reflect on his first year on tour, including a win at the Wyndham Championship and a third at the Buick Invitational.

In 29 tournaments, he finished 13 times in the top 25 and made 23 cuts.

"Being a rookie, you really don"t know where you are going to get in,"" Snedeker said. "My goal for the year was to try and play as many events as I could on tour, see where I liked to play, what fit my eye, what didn"t fit my eye. I kept playing better through the second half of the year and just wanted to keep playing. "

The result was all good.

"It"s been overwhelming to say the least, I wasn"t expecting it,"" Snedeker said. "I was just trying to make sure I had a job for next year. The only downside now is that I"ve got to try to improve on it next year.""

And "next"" year begins now, says Snedeker.

"After my eight-week break, this is really the beginning of my year, to get my game going and find out where it is,"" he said. "We"re in the middle of summer here, great weather. It hasn"t felt great the first two days, but I"m hoping it"s better on Thursday.""

Snedeker celebrates his 27th birthday on Saturday - when he hopes to be mixing it with Adam Scott, Rory Sabbatini, defending PGA champion Nick O"Hern and Stuart Appleby on a golf course that reminds him of the manicured Florida layouts.

O"Hern is happy to see Snedeker here.

"It"s fantastic - the more international players we can get down here, obviously the better,"" O"Hern said. "I think the public will see guys they haven"t seen before and I"m sure by the end of the week they"ll remember who they are.""

Having such a strong first year has predictably made Snedeker"s time in Japan and Australia feel all the more sweet. He even finds a positive in jet lag.

"Finding out how your body reacts and how your golf game reacts to traveling can never be a negative thing,"" Snedeker says. "We travel coast to coast in the States and over to Europe for the British Open. I think it can"t do anything but help us.""

But he doesn"t begrudge other Americans or PGA tour regulars who decide to stay home after a long season.

"If I had three kids at home and they were in high school and I was missing three weeks with them, it would be a different story,"" he says. "I"m young, I love to travel. I have no excuse not to.""

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