Every Sunday night, the editorial staff of the SI Golf Group conducts an e-mail roundtable. Check in every week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation in the comments section below.
IS A MAJOR NEXT FOR BRANDT SNEDEKER?
Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Greetings, golf fans, and welcome to our guest, Brandel Chamblee. Your thoughts on Brandt Snedeker, who's got two seconds and a win already. Is he just riding a hot streak of good play or has he taken his game to a higher level? Will he win a major this year and, if so, which major is he most likely to win and why?
Brandel Chamblee, Golf Channel analyst and Golf Magazine columnist: Snedeker's ballstriking has risen to the same level as his short game and putting. This is outrageous when you consider just how good he is with the scoring clubs, but I suspect five years of average ballstriking by tour standards is a more accurate measure of his talents tee to green. If this hot streak turns into a year of great ballstriking, then he could author something that we will talk about for years to come. His confidence off the tee was obvious on Sunday when he hit driver on the short par-4 fourth right up in the neck of the fairway, leaving him 67 yards, which he converted for birdie. His current form fits every major but in particular Augusta, as he is in better control of his approach shots, which will put him in a more aggressive position on the greens. The tears of disappointment in 2008 will be replaced by tears of joy.
Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: If Snedeker is not actively lobbying for the Masters to start tomorrow, he should be. The guy is so confident and playing so well he could probably beat a lot of the guys on Tour with 10 clubs. And given the way he finished 2012, I believe he's here to stay. I'd say he's most likely to win the Masters, which he made a run at five years ago, before he'd really even found his footing on Tour. He'll be helped by the fact that all eyes will be on McIlroy, Mickelson and Woods.
Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Brandt's riding the wave and he might for another decade. I love his game, he's a great guy, he's smart. He's the kind of person and player that can help a kid fall in love with golf. The USGA should use him as a poster boy for how to play ready golf.
Jim Gorant, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: What's cool about Brandt is that he's doing it all -- driving it well, stiffing the irons and putting like a demon. That sure makes it feel like it's more than a hot streak.
Eamon Lynch, managing editor, Golf.com He plays fast and didn't attribute his win to a higher power. What's not to like?
Ryan Reiterman, senior producer, Golf.com: Snedeker seems to have found the one thing that was missing from his game -- self-belief. He's No. 4 in the world now, so, yes, he's here for the long haul and he should be on the short-list of favorites for every major this year, starting with Augusta. And Sneds adds a compelling wrinkle into the overall storyline for the season. We have the boy wonder (Rory), the legend trying to return to the top (Tiger), the fan favorite (Phil), and now the everyman (Snedeker). Plus, you still have guys like Donald, Westwood and Garcia playing well and still trying to win their first major. And then there's all the South Africans. Can we just get to the Masters already?!
Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: Snedeker is here to stay. As long as he continues to putt like this, he'll contend. His pace is remarkable, and every putt seems to fall right in the middle of the cup. And because of that stroke, I'll take him at the Masters. He tied for third in 2008 and was in the top 20 in his last two Augusta starts. And, of course, that was all before he broke out in the second half of 2012.
Van Sickle: Brandt Snedeker looks more like the real thing every week. He's knocking on the door of the top three in the world rankings. He's the best putter in golf, which makes him a threat to win anywhere. I think he wins a Masters first. I'm a believer.
Jeff Ritter, senior producer, Golf.com: Still hanging with Oosthuizen to win the Masters, but you can't deny that Snedeker is the hottest player on the planet right now. In past victories, he won while erasing large final-round deficits. Sunday he won as a front-runner. All that's left for him is a major. I like him the most at Merion, but when you can putt, you can win anywhere.
John Garrity, contributing writer, Sports Illustrated: You can't dismiss it as a hot streak because it started more than a year ago, at Torrey Pines, and continued over the holiday break. He drives it great, and he seems to be the new "Boss of the Moss." As for majors, I'd say his straight-driving, great-putting formula makes him a good bet to win a U.S. Open.
Bamberger: He'll win a major eventually. This year, who knows? Augusta is surely his best bet, because of his putting game.
Stephanie Wei, WeiUnderPar.com: He's definitely taken his game to a higher level. When I compare the Snedeker I saw back at the Heritage in April 2011 when he came from behind to post a low number and then beat Luke Donald in a playoff to the Snedeker who won the Tour Championship and just finished 2-2-1 in three straight weeks, they are two different players. He exudes confidence now. I think winning with the lead last fall at the Tour Championship and what he's done in subsequent weeks has elevated him to the elite ranks. (And he's moved to No. 4 in the OWGR.) There was no doubt in my mind after the third round that he had the win in the bag.
Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I'm here at Pebble and was struck by his steely demeanor. We know Sneds is a premiere putter and his ball control gets better and better -- on Sunday he missed only one fairway, and that was by a foot -- but it was his palpable confidence that was most impressive. Apparently he thinks he's going to win every time he tees it up. I love him at Augusta. The game's best putter has a built-in advantage there.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Is Snedeker here to stay? Which major do you think he's most likely to win this year?