You don't realize that chandeliers are really low."
Which is true, you don't. Unless, like Brandt Snedeker, you've been walking through empty dining rooms on runners improvised from collapsed cardboard boxes.
It was a cold, rainy morning in early March, and a cheerful Snedeker was explaining it was not the chandelier in his half-empty house in Nashville that had put the latest lump on his noggin. No, the 6'1" golfer blamed the big copper wheel hanging from a ceiling in his recently purchased hilltop mansion in nearby Franklin. Or maybe it was the gaslight sconce he had inadvertently head-butted outside his new front door.
"I've nearly killed myself four times just walking through the new house," he said, watching a team of movers wrap the last three years of his life in padded blankets. "To say I'm injury-prone would be an understatement."
Well, no. To say that would be factual.
Snedeker, the PGA Tour's biggest money winner since last September, recently missed five weeks of competition because of an intercostal strain on the left side of his chest. Hip and rib injuries have disabled him four times since he joined the Tour in 2007, and this time it happened at the worst possible moment: when he was leading in the final round of the AT&T National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach in February.
"For a couple of days it was brutal," he admitted recently. "I couldn't move or breathe without pain." Friends and family watching the telecast knew that something was wrong: Snedeker's stride was tentative; he grimaced on shots down the stretch. "My caddie said something really smart. He said, 'How many full swings you got left? Give me 20 more swings. Just give me eight more swings....'"
Snedeker gave Scott Vail enough knife-in-the-chest swings to finish bogey-free on the back nine at Pebble and nail down a two-stroke victory, his fourth in two years. But he said nothing publicly about his injury until the following Tuesday, when he pulled out of the WGC Accenture Match Play—the first in a string of reluctant withdrawals.
"You never want to take a break this long," Snedeker explained after a month of physical therapy in Nashville, "especially the way I was playing." Frustrated by his inability to practice, he had seen several specialists about his ribs, including a bone doc from his alma mater, Vanderbilt, and a muscle expert at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. "Everything was clean," he said with a smile and a shrug. "I'm probably the only guy to walk out of the Mayo Clinic disappointed because he got a clean bill of health."
The X-rays of Snedeker's season have been just as clean. He leads the Tour in three statistical categories (scoring average, birdie average and all-around ranking), is second in the FedEx Cup points list and the Tour money rankings ($2.86 million), and has four top three finishes in seven starts. That's on top of his scintillating autumn of 2012, which saw him win the season-ending Tour Championship ($1.44 million), the seasonlong FedEx Cup race ($10 million) and a basement full of bottled Coke (priceless).