It was a week dominated by players making comebacks to the winner’s circle. Brandt Snedeker, Andrew Dodt and Lee Janzen have all experienced career slumps in recent times – but Sunday would see them remedy that malaise in form with important victories. And we also saw a new potential star emerge in the women’s game.
AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
The curiously unwatchable AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am has long been a baffling event. Held at such a beautiful and iconic stretch of land, this date on the golfing calendar has become mind-numbingly tedious due to the overt focus on the second-rate celebrities who are participating.
However, apart from frustrations at the CBS broadcast that is now beyond parody, we witnessed (when we were allowed to) a truly brilliant performance by Brandt Snedeker – confirming that the likeable 34-year-old from Nashville is back to his very best form.
2014 was an undeniably frustrating year for the former world number four. With recurring injury problems afflicting him, his decline in form and confidence would see him fall outside the top 50 in the world rankings. In an effort to combat this, Snedeker enlisted Butch Harmon as his coach last summer, which is a partnership now bearing fruit.
Incredibly dropping just one shot all week on the Monterey Peninsula, all compartments of Snedeker’s game were in vintage form. Managing his game effectively with a swing that is effusive of confidence, the signs are there that the seven-time PGA Tour winner can now launch another bid to win the Masters – with an invitation to the season’s first major now on its way.
True Thailand Classic
Former Avantha Masters champion, Andrew Dodt lost his Tour card at the end of 2013 following a miserable season in Europe. In response, the 29-year-old Australian returned to his roots on the Asian Tour, growing his confidence and winning a title on the PGA Tour of Australia last year.
He was now ready to have another stab at the European Tour.
Coming successfully through Qualifying School at the end of the year, Dodt’s victory in Thailand secures his status for an additional two seasons. It’s hard to overestimate how important that is, providing the Queenslander with the freedom to plot his schedule and play (relatively speaking) without stress.
There was shock, however, at the inability of Thongchai Jaidee to clinch victory on home soil. The 45-year-old will be left to rue a double-bogey on the 13th and a three-putt par that saw him finish one behind in a tie for second alongside Scott Hend – who will also have regrets.
In the end, Dodt’s bogey-free final round of 67 was just enough to win. It will be interesting to see if he can kick on from this victory and become a more consistent performer on the European Tour.
RACV Ladies Masters
The LET’s 2015 began in Australia – and it would be a home winner who triumphed. Su-Hyun Oh – formerly the world’s number one ranked amateur – shot a final round of 69 to win the RACV Ladies Masters at Royal Pines on the Gold Coast.
It was just the 18-year-old’s second event as a professional, and her introduction to the world stage came after encouraging words from Australian legend, Karrie Webb, who texted with Oh before Sunday.
There will be disappointment for Charley Hull – still only 18 herself – at shooting a final round of 73 to finish three shots back of Oh.
Expectations around the Solheim Cup star remain extremely high, and Sunday’s frustrations will serve as a character building experience. Every player needs those days – particularly when so young – and we can look forward to Hull bouncing back in the coming weeks.
But the story of the week was Su-Hyun Oh. Unquestionably a name to follow.
ACE Group Classic
Before Sunday in Florida, Lee Janzen’s last official professional victory came at the 1998 U.S. Open. The two-time major champion’s regular Tour career from point was fairly innocuous, with him being present without ever doing anything particularly notable. It became easy to forget that his career achievements included two U.S. Opens and a Player Championship.
However, like many players, the Champions Tour has provided an opportunity to forge a second career. A chance to reboot. And the ACE Group Classic would be the site of his maiden triumph on the senior circuit.
A par on the first hole of sudden death proved to be enough for Janzen to win ahead of Bart Bryant – who had shot a final round of 62 to surge through the field.