When losing hurts more than winning feels good
HONOLULU (AP) Brandt Snedeker won in his next start after losing the Sony Open in a playoff last year.
Emotions remain stronger over the loss.
Such is the nature of golf. Of the top five players in the world, Jordan Spieth has the highest winning percentage worldwide at 9.3 percent, mainly because he’s so young. That doesn’t ease the sting of losing.
This question was posed to Snedeker on the eve of the Sony Open, and it was inspired by Jim Furyk being appointed U.S. Ryder Cup captain. It was Furyk three years ago who mentioned going into the 2014 Ryder Cup that the greater the stage, losing feels worse than winning feels good.
”I think failure drives us more than the excitement of winning,” Snedeker said. ”I remember last year losing a playoff here, it stuck with me. I had a week off and then the whole next week, it stuck with me. I felt like I left something on the golf course.”
Snedeker was tied for the lead going into the final round when his reliable putter went cold. He opened with seven pars and a bogey to fall three shots behind, rallied on the back nine and got up-and-down on the par-5 18th at Waialae Country Club to force a playoff with Fabian Gomez .
Snedeker had a 12-foot birdie putt to win in the playoff, and left it short.
He had a 10-foot birdie putt to extend the playoff and missed again.
”You never mind losing when you do everything you possibly can,” Snedeker said. ”But when you don’t do something you should have done … like last year, I didn’t birdie 18 either time in the playoff. I should be able to birdie it one or two times, so I felt like I left something out there. And that stings a lot and stays with you for a while.”
He won at Torrey Pines two weeks later with a 69 that was nearly nine shots lower than the average score in the final round because of high wind that toppled trees and forced the tournament into Monday.
The celebration didn’t last long.
”It was just a dinner that night, and then you’re on to next week playing, so you don’t really care,” Snedeker said. ”Nobody gives a rip. The tour moves very fast in that way. You don’t have time to really celebrate and really enjoy your wins, and you always carry your losses with you a lot longer.”
Hideki Matsuyama can appreciate that.
The 24-year-old from Japan had won three straight tournaments, starting with a seven-shot victory in the HSBC Champions for his first World Golf Championship title, and most recently a two-shot victory against a top-heavy, 18-man field in the Bahamas.
And then at Kapalua last week, he was runner-up by three shots to Justin Thomas after a surprising rally on the back nine. So in his last six tournaments, Matsuyama has four victories and two runner-up finishes. That’s pretty good golf.
”I’ve had some good results in the past, but not hitting the ball as good as I would like,” he said.
This was just three days after a runner-up finish. Matsuyama was on the putting green at the Sony Open until twilight Wednesday. He had three golf balls from about 7 feet. He made the first. He made the second. And he scooped up the third.
”You have one more to make,” an observer said to him.
Matsuyama smiled and shook his head.
Ben Crane might be the exception. He remembers a story in Hank Haney’s book on coaching Tiger Woods, ”The Big Miss,” in which Woods won a tournament his wife planned to celebrate. According to the book, Woods said there would be no need for a party because he was supposed to win.
Crane won the FedEx St. Jude Classic in 2014, and he threw a party that summer.
A big one.
He invited 70 of his closest friends. He strung up lights and brought in food trucks. He hired a disc jockey and everyone danced into the night.
”I’m not Tiger Woods,” Crane said that year. ”I’m not supposed to win. And when I do, we’re going to go for it!”