(Reuters) - Invigorated by his new swing coach Butch Harmon, Brandt Snedeker believes he is on the “right path” as he bids to return to the winner’s circle at this week’s Canadian Open in Montreal where he will defend the title.
American Snedeker has not triumphed anywhere since he clinched last year’s Canadian Open by three shots in Ontario but says he has renewed his appetite for the game over the past month while working with Harmon.
“It’s been a good switch,” the fast-talking Snedeker told reporters while preparing for Thursday’s opening round at Royal Montreal about his decision to part company with his previous swing coach, Todd Anderson.
“Butch is very, very easy to work with. He’s very, very simple. He’s not into overhauling golf swings and changing anything that I’ve done my whole career, so it was a very easy transition for me.”
A six-times winner on the PGA Tour, Snedeker has recorded only two top-10s in 19 starts during his 2013-14 campaign but has been encouraged by his improving form since linking up with Harmon.
“I feel like my game is finally back to where I know I can compete again and play again,” said the 33-year-old, who tied for ninth in last month’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst.
“Not that it was ever that far off, but I’ve got the confidence back and I know what I am doing. (It) has been great the last three weeks that I’ve worked with him (Harmon) and I feel like I’m on the right path.”
Though Snedeker has never previously played at Royal Montreal, he gained a strong appreciation for the par-70 layout while watching the Presidents Cup held there in 2007.
“I’ve heard great things about it,” said Snedeker. “I remember watching the Presidents Cup on TV and seeing a great finishing stretch of holes and realizing it probably is going to be the determining factor this week on who wins.
“So I’m excited about getting out there and trying to defend my championship.”
World number seven Matt Kuchar and fellow American Jim Furyk, a twice former Canadian Open champion who is ranked 10th, head a strong field at Royal Montreal this week.
Once again, there will be the usual weight of expectation from Canadian fans who have waited patiently for the tournament’s first home-grown winner since Pat Fletcher at Vancouver’s Point Grey Golf and Country Club in 1954.
Canadian Graeme DeLaet, who has yet to win on the PGA Tour, is looking forward to being roared on by local supporters this week, regardless of how well he and his compatriots fare.
“No matter how we play, they’re still going to be fans of us and they’re going to cheer us on,” said DeLaet, who has been a runner-up three times on the U.S. circuit.
“I don’t think we’re going to let anyone down by not winning or not playing our best golf. I guarantee every single Canadian in the field is going to give it all that they have this week, and that’s really all that you can expect or ask of them.
“I think that we have as strong of a group of Canadian players here this year as we’ve had. Hopefully it’s an exciting week and we can make some noise on the weekend.”
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Steve Keating