Last week, Vanderbilt and the Tennessee golf community lost a legend when Mason Rudolph died.
On Sunday, Brandt Snedeker put together a performance Rudolph surely would have enjoyed.
Snedeker, a graduate of Montgomery Bell Academy and former Vanderbilt All-American, shot a 64 on Sunday in the final round of The Heritage in Hilton Head Island, S.C., and then edged Luke Donald in a three-hole playoff to earn his second PGA Tour victory, and his first since 2007.
His last victory came during his rookie year at the Wyndham Championship, which he captured by shooting a 63 on the final day.
“I know it has been four years. It seems a lot longer than that,” Snedeker said. “I can’t put into words how much the win means to me, because the first one was my rookie year. You come out here and don’t really know what to expect. To win like that was kind of out of nowhere.”
Snedeker, 30, entered the final day of the tournament in 17th place and six strokes back. But he birdied nine holes and made par on seven others in regulation for a 7-under.
That landed him in a playoff with Donald, who was trying to become the No. 1-ranked golfer in the world. Both players birdied the first extra hole (No. 18) and then made par at No. 17. Donald’s approach shot to the next went into the bunker and Snedeker saved par to claim the tournament, which rewards the winner with a plaid jacket.
“Those are two jackets I want to learn in my lifetime, a green jacket [for winning the Masters] and a plaid jacket,” he said. “I’ve got one. ... I look pretty good in [plaid]. I could get used to this.”
Snedeker moves up to seventh in the FedExCup points list and finished in the top 10 for the fifth time this season. Two weeks ago, he finished tied for 15th at the Masters.
His solid start to the 2011 season is even more impressive, considering he and his wife, Mandy, just had their first baby, Lily Hayes, last month.
“I feel like my game is finally there, especially with a newborn at home and everything that entails,” Snedeker said. “I’m sure there is no secret that that’s probably the reason why I won, was having that distraction, having that, I guess, comfort at home, knowing that I’ve got a family now and how special that is, and how fortunate we are to have that.
“I give her full credit. She doesn’t know yet. She slept through the whole thing this afternoon.”
Earlier in the week, Rudolph died at the age of 76 due to heart complications. The Clarksville native coached the Vanderbilt men’s golf team from 1992-97 before he became director of golf — a position he held until moving into an emeritus role in 2002.
He obviously had a big impact on Snedeker, who graduated from Vanderbilt in 2004. After Rudolph’s death on Monday, Snedeker said, “He was instrumental in helping me become a better golfer, but more importantly a better person.”