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Golf Magazine Interview: Brandt Snedeker on his grudge against the USGA and why drug testing pros is a waste of time

Brandt Snedeker
Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images
Snedeker says he was "pissed" after a tough Sunday at the 2013 Masters.

One of your other toughest moments came at the 2008 Masters, when you were reduced to tears after falling from contention with a fourth-round 77. Why the waterworks?
Just sheer disappointment. I hadn’t really been in a moment like that before. It was really the third major I’d ever played in. To be in the last group with a chance to win, and to think I’m going to win, and to not play that great that day, it was tough. I was ill-equipped to handle the emotion. I knew the Masters was really important to me, but I didn’t realize just how important until I lost. It was a great learning experience. I realized how tough it is to win a major, how patient you have to be. I realized how unemotional you have to make it.

At this year’s Masters, you were tied for the 54-hole lead, then shot 75 to finish sixth. Afterward, you seemed more ticked off than heartbroken.
Yeah, because I realized I’m really, really close. In ’08, I didn’t know that I would ever be back in that situation. I had no clue where my career would go at that point. Now I know I’m going to be in that situation again. I was upset, pissed that I let that one slip through my fingers. I felt like I had a chance. But the more I put myself there, the better chance I’ll have of winning.

Do you fully expect to win a major?
I fully expect to win a major.

Earlier this year you revealed to Golf Magazine that you have a condition called low bone turnover, which is the cause of the repeated rib fractures that have plagued you in recent years. Are you concerned that your susceptibility to injury will hamper your career?
I’m just going to try to get through a year without injury. I’ve probably spent more time at doctors’ offices this year than at my house. But if you look over the course of guys’ careers, guys have injuries. Hopefully all mine have happened in a row. I’ve had my hips fixed; my hips are great now. I’m on some medication to deal with [my bone condition]. I’ve made a concerted effort to be more conscious about my diet and fitness.

You led the Tour in strokes gained-putting in 2012 and are fourth in 2013. Justin Rose says the key to your prowess is that you give every putt a chance.
I feel like with every putt I hit, if I’m not going three feet past the hole, I’ve not done my job. That’s why I practice inside five feet all the time. I feel like if I make my one-putts inside five feet all the time, I’m never going to three-putt. I’m going to make a lot of putts from 15 to 20 feet, because I’m not worried about a three-putt. I also have a great mentality with putting. I call it the law of averages. When I’m putting poorly, not making stuff, I know I’m a great putter. I know that when they’re not going in, they’re going to go in. It’s just a matter of time. It’s going to average out.

Like in blackjack?
Right—I just bide my time until I start hitting, and when I start hitting, I make those runs go for a long time.

Your abbreviated “pop-gun” putting stroke raised eyebrows when you first came out on Tour. Did you ever feel pressure to lengthen or “loosen” it?
No. You find out what you do well and don’t listen to anybody else. I know I’m a good putter. The best thing I ever did was to refine my stroke so that it’s more consistent. I’ve stuck with it, and it’s kind of my M.O. now. We actually work on getting more poppy, less loose.

Chicks dig the long ball, as they say. Are you jealous of guys who can bomb it?
Oh, yeah, for sure. [Laughs] Playing with Dustin Johnson or playing with Angel [Cabrera] that last day at the [2013] Masters, those guys can really move it. If I could just do that, man, this game would be a lot easier.

If you had Tim Finchem’s job for a week, what’s the first thing you’d do?
The first thing I’d do is hire Tim as my vice-commissioner. I think Finchem is probably the most underrated commissioner in sports. He gets a hard time from everybody—from the players, from the media. If you look at what he’s done since he’s taken over the Tour, it’s phenomenal. Tiger gets all the credit, and Tim seems to get none. Tiger is a big part of it, of course, but utilizing Tiger to make the Tour better is probably Tim’s biggest asset to us. So I’m a huge fan. Oh, I also like him because he envisioned the FedEx Cup. [Laughs]

Lofty praise, but there must be some issue you’d like to tackle.
Pace of play is one. We’re avoiding the issue. We’re playing five-and-a-half-hour rounds—for threesomes! We don’t give the rules officials enough power, enough strength to say, “Hey, there’s somebody playing slow this week. I know there is. And I have the power to give them a penalty.” And that penalty needs to be a one-shot penalty, not a timing and a fine. You start giving guys a one-shot penalty, trust me, they’re going to figure it out. I understand our courses are tough—blah, blah, blah. I think there’s a way to solve it.

Any other changes?
I would do away with drug testing in a heartbeat. It’s a complete waste of time and money. Plus, I don’t know if steroids are really going to help you hit a golf ball.

But there are other ways PEDs can help you in golf, such as improving your conditioning or settling your nerves.
We’ve had drug testing for almost six years on the PGA Tour and we’ve had two cases of people getting caught doing it. One of them was Doug Barron, who had low testosterone, who didn’t go through the proper channels and ended up testing positive [for anabolic steroid testosterone and propranolol, a beta-blocker that calms nerves]. The other was Vijay Singh, who took deer-antler spray, which may or may not be a performance-enhancing drug. We’ve had two instances in six years.

Some argue that the testing isn’t stringent enough.
I don’t think it’s ever been a problem in golf. I don’t think it ever will be a problem in golf. The PGA Tour is different from football and every other sport in that we call penalties on ourselves. The worst thing you can be called in golf is a cheater. Trust me, if there’s a guy that gets caught doing anything a couple of times, whether it be bending a rule, we know about it, and we let him know about it. You don’t want to be labeled “that guy.” There are a couple of guys on Tour who are labeled “that guy.”

Like who?
I can’t go down that road. But we know who they are. Trust me, you don’t want to be that guy. Life is no fun for you out there. It’s a pretty lonely place.

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