Snedeker could be key for Americans at Ryder Cup

Brandt Snedeker celebrates on Sunday at East Lake after winning the Tour Championship and the...

Brandt Snedeker celebrates on Sunday at East Lake after winning the Tour Championship and the $10-million FedExCup bonus. (Reuters)

Ian Hutchinson, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:13 AM ET

There’s been plenty of discussion lately about Paul Henderson, the least luminous of the stars who comprised Team Canada in 1972, but the man who became the most unlikely decision-maker in his country’s success in the Summit Series.

It’s a message that applies 40 years later to Brandt Snedeker, arguably the least likely of the five who could determine his own fate at yesterday’s Tour Championship at East Lake.

The task was clear: Win on Sunday and you also win the FedEx Cup.

It was clear, but not simple as the best-known names in the game who also could determine their fates — Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and Nick Watney — were nowhere near contenders by the end when Snedeker brought the hammer down with a chip-in on the 17th hole.

Later this week, the spotlight will once again be on Woods and McIlroy at the Ryder Cup, but like Henderson, Snedeker will be representing his country after being named as a pick by American captain Davis Love III.

Love may consider himself a genius today, not only because of the way Snedeker played, but also the way he stayed composed after taking a double bogey on that nasty and windy par-3 sixth hole.

An emotional guy along the lines of Bubba Watson, Snedeker came back two holes later with a birdie. His scorecard was unblemished the rest of the way, with Snedeker not only continuing on with his renowned putter, but also hitting tight fairways consistently off the tee.

Combine all that with his two top-six finishes in the playoffs, his two wins and seven top-10 finishes overall and Love is a happy captain when it comes to Snedeker, who looks likely to be a key player this week if American stars start to fade as they did on the weekend.

Of course, Snedeker can’t do it himself, as Henderson couldn’t 40 years ago, but it does help to have a guy emerge when you’re trying to restore pride for your country at the Ryder Cup, where the Americans have won just two of the last eight events.

POPULARITY Contest?

Arguments have been going on about Freddie Couples being named to the World Golf Hall of Fame, most saying his one major, the 1992 Masters, and 15 PGA Tour wins overall weren’t enough and this was a case of “Boom Boom” benefitting from a popularity contest.

“I don’t consider myself to be a great player, but I’m a good player,” said Couples, who will never be classed with Jack Nicklaus on his numbers, but his career is one that would make most players happy.

Popularity did push him over the top for induction into the Hall of Fame. Should that be a deciding factor?

Purists will surely say no, but Couples did have a magic with the fans that sold the game, not only pre-Tiger, but after the arrival of Woods.

Here’s an example. Years ago, a bankteller who knew what I did for a living asked if I’d ever talked to Couples. I was surprised she was interested in golf, but she wasn’t really, just Couples.

Still, she knew all of his accomplishments and when she discovered I had talked to Couples on several occasions, I had to politely decline her suggestion that I get his autograph or snip off a lock of his hair.

Justin Bieber adulation aside, Couples had rock star galleries around him and at the age of 52, he’s still a big ticket and there’s something to be said for somebody who draws eyes to golf, not only for the PGA Tour, but golf in general.

Couples’ numbers may not be enough, but I’m okay with his charisma being a contributing factor.

DALY’S DIFFERENT

No, John Daly would not get into the Hall of Fame using the same argument. Daly may have won two majors — the 1991 PGA Championship and 1995 British Open — but he’s only won five times overall on tour and the headlines he has garnered over the years are unlikely to encourage support ... Love also has a major, with 20 wins but isn’t in the Hall of Fame yet. Couples’ nomination does open the door for others who may not have gotten in. Here are a few more candidates based on records alone: Mark O’Meara (two majors, 16 wins overall), Jim Furyk (one major, 16 wins) and Corey Pavin (one major, 15 wins) ... When we say BS baffles brains, we’re not talking Brandt Snedeker. A calculator should not be a necessity for watching a playoff finale, along with chips, beer, soft drinks and pizza, as it is in golf’s playoffs ... Funny isn’t it that professional golfers will take golf writers to task for manufacturing controversy, but don’t mind doing it themselves as Greg Norman did with his comments about Woods being intimidated by McIlroy. If that’s based on experience, then those comments offer more of an insight into the Shark’s mindset from his own playing career than it says anything about Woods ... With the NHL lockout on and the memory of other labour negotiations in professional sports, don’t you get tired of hearing the money that was at stake in the Tour Championship/FedEx Cup? It may be great for the players, but the TV guys seemed to think it was a motivation for fans on Sunday.


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