Brandt Snedeker introduced himself to America with a river of tears. He was in contention at the 2008 Masters, ready to win his first major, when he shot a 77 on Trevor Immelman's big Sunday and then started crying in the scoring hut and again in his news conference for millions of viewers to see.
If big boys aren't supposed to cry, someone forgot to tell golf fans. Snedeker received an outpouring of support in the form of more than 500 letters in the first three weeks following his crushing defeat, including several sent by combat veterans touched by how much he cared about his performance and his craft.
"I kept all those letters and put them in a binder," Snedeker said that summer. "I make sure I keep going back to them so I remember how many people out there really care."
Snedeker contended again at the 2013 Masters before shooting a 75 in the final round. He owns five top-5s in majors, and at 33, he feels it's finally his time to close one out.
He'll have his work cut out for him this weekend at Pinehurst, where Martin Kaymer is dominating the U.S. Open with a 10-under score of 130, good enough for a 6-stroke lead over Brendon Todd and a 7-stroke lead over Snedeker and Kevin Na.
Trying to turn around his disappointing season to date, Snedeker raced out Thursday to 4-under in his first eight holes before playing Nos. 10, 11 and 12 in 4-over and ultimately finishing with a 1-under 69. Snedeker responded Friday with four birdies and only one costly mistake -- a double-bogey at 11. He was not scared off by Kaymer's score, noting that "no lead is safe in the U.S. Open. ... Sunday, back nine, we'll find out where everything lays."
Snedeker was asked about his missed opportunities in the majors, including the two Masters, and what, if anything, he'd learned from them. "Experience, I guess," he responded. "That's the only thing different. ... I know the pressure's going to be there."
The same big-game pressure one of the world's best putters hasn't been able to manage in the past.
"Good thing about me is it doesn't take much to get me to feel confident," Snedeker countered. "If I see a few shots going in the right direction or see a few putts going in, I'm good to go. ... I'm excited about the next two rounds, and my confidence is not going to be a problem over the weekend."
Snedeker believes he has a chance to beat Kaymer from behind. If he does, it's a guarantee his tears will be tears of joy.