Snedeker enters foreign territory at Medinah

MEDINAH, Illinois Tue Sep 25, 2012 6:02pm EDT

U.S. golfer Brandt Snedeker hits from a sand trap on the second green during a practice round at the 39th Ryder Cup golf matches at the Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Illinois, September 25, 2012. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan

U.S. golfer Brandt Snedeker hits from a sand trap on the second green during a practice round at the 39th Ryder Cup golf matches at the Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Illinois, September 25, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Matt Sullivan

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MEDINAH, Illinois (Reuters) - Rookie Brandt Snedeker knows what it is like to win $11.44 million at just one event but he is under no illusions he will have to contend with unprecedented emotion and intensity at this week's Ryder Cup.

Snedeker, who earned his mind-boggling pay-day with a three-shot victory at the Tour Championship in Atlanta on Sunday, has long been warned about the sheer terror debutants can experience when they step on to the first tee at a Ryder Cup.

"They say it's not going to be like anything you've ever felt before," American Snedeker told Reuters while preparing for Friday's opening foursomes matches at Medinah Country Club in the biennial competition.

"The only comforting fact is that I know everybody else has felt that way. No matter who I'm playing at the Ryder Cup is going to feel exact the same way that I do.

"I know it's going to be a very pressure-packed week but I'm playing the best golf of my career right now. I look forward to getting up there this week and playing some even better golf."

The fast-talking American, who is known for his streaky putting and his ability to shoot low scores, was one of four wildcard picks chosen by captain Davis Love III for the 2012 U.S. team.

CUP INSIGHT

Snedeker has regarded Love as something of an 'uncle figure' ever since his rookie season on the PGA Tour in 2007 and he has spoken to the 48-year-old at length to gain Ryder Cup insight.

"I've kind of talked to everybody a little bit about it but Davis has obviously been one of the main ones as team captain," said the 31-year-old from Nashville, Tennessee. "He's got a ton of Ryder Cup experience and I know him very, very well.

"He's been great and kind of helped through all the trappings that rookies get into. The biggest thing he has told me is to make sure I don't get worn out as Ryder Cup weeks are long weeks."

One of four rookies on the U.S. team, Snedeker knows that virtually every Ryder Cup debutant in recent years is a highly experienced player who has probably competed on circuits all over the world.

"I have played with all these guys on the other team before," he smiled. "These are not guys that I've never played with before. The Rory McIlroys, the Graeme McDowells, these are guys that I have played against my whole life.

"I have played all over the world playing against them so this is nothing new for me to be in this situation. The only thing that's going to be different is the intensity of the crowd and the pride that goes into this event."

Snedeker, an energetic figure both on and off the course, is delighted to be making his Ryder Cup debut on U.S. soil.

"I think it's huge," he said. "I'm going to feed off emotion a lot this week and to have that crowd behind us, especially here in Chicago, the fans are going to be crazy.

"I can also take comfort from that and realise that being on U.S. soil I will have a little bit more of a 'home field' advantage here, I guess.

"The crowd will be right behind me and I'll enjoy the challenge of trying to pull off a good shot and really get into the rhythm of the round."

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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