Snedeker’s wins come after Vail surgery |

Snedeker’s wins come after Vail surgery

Jim Brown
Special to the Daily
Vail, CO Colorado
Brandt Snedeker reacts after chipping in for a birdie on the 17th hole during the final round of play in the Tour Championship golf tournament in Atlanta, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012. (AP Photo, 2012. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

VAIL, Colorado – How many career-changing events can you have in one year? Four and counting, if you are professional golf star Brandt Snedeker.

Snedeker had hip surgery at the Steadman Clinic in November of 2011, won a PGA tournament 90 days later at Torrey Pines, was named to the U.S. Ryder Cup team early in September, and won the Tour Championship and the FedExCup on Sunday in Atlanta.

Other than that, the past year or so has been business as usual for Snedeker, who joined the PGA after graduating from Vanderbilt and playing two years on the Nationwide Tour. In 2007, he was named PGA Rookie of the Year.

Actually, there have been two surgeries, one on the left hip in 2010 and a similar procedure one the right hip last November.

“In 2010, my left hip started to hurt during the U.S. Open,” Snedeker said. “I thought it might have been just a fluke thing and tried to get through the rest of the season, but it really never got better. I had a sharp stabbing pain when I walked, and it was very sore at night and early every morning.

“I had heard about Dr. Marc Philippon from other golfers and knew that he had treated Greg Norman for a hip problem. Every golfer I talked with had nothing but good things to say about their experience with Dr. Philippon and his colleagues at the Steadman Clinic and the Steadman Philippon Research Institute.

“I sat down with Dr. Philippon on a Monday and after looking at MRI results, he told me that he could get me back to 100 percent in eight weeks – playing tournaments in 12 weeks. He was completely confident that it was an issue that could be resolved, and he was right. I had the operation two days later and was playing golf right on schedule.”

The hip disorders causing Snedeker’s pain were, among other things, a torn labrum and a condition called femoroacetabular impingement. FAI is a common cause of hip pain and osteoarthritis that involves too much friction in the hip joint during extreme range of motion movements.

“As my left hip got better, I noticed a growing problem in my right hip,” he said. “It wasn’t as bad as the left hip, but it was causing pain and nothing I tried could calm it down. I knew I had the same bone problem as in my right hip and I that it wasn’t going to get any better, so I went back to Vail for pretty much the same procedure done in 2010.”

Return to golf

The second surgery was on Nov. 1, 2011. After three weeks of physical therapy in Vail with therapists at Howard Head Sports Medicine, Snedeker returned to Nashville and continued rehabbing with his physical therapists there.

“Having the surgery was the best health-related decision I’ve ever made,” he said. “Just the knowledge Dr. Philippon has about what he does and working with the physical therapists four to six hours a day was a huge bonus in getting me back to 100 percent.”

By mid-January, Snedeker was back on the course and ready for the PGA tour again. In only his second tournament after surgery, the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, he came from seven shots back in the final round and defeated Kyle Stanley in a playoff. It was Snedeker’s third PGA title, but not his last.

On Sept. 4, the Ryder Cup team was announced and Snedeker was one of four wildcard selections made by team captain Davis Love III.

“He called and asked me if I wanted to represent the United States on the Ryder Cup team,” Snedeker said. “I couldn’t say ‘yes’ fast enough. It’s a huge thing for my career.”

Snedeker is also one of four Ryder Cup rookies named to the team. Love wanted “hot” putters on the team and Snedeker has been one of the best putters on the tour. The Ryder Cup is scheduled for late September at Medinah Country Club near Chicago, a club that has hosted two PGA Championships since 1999.

Tour Championship win

Snedeker already had the year of a lifetime when the Tour Championship tournament began. In addition to the Farmers Insurance Open, he recorded six top 10 finishes and more than $3.5 million in season earnings.

By winning the Tour Championship, he added $1.44 million in prize money, plus a $10 million bonus for accumulating the most points during the season.

“This is what you work your whole life for; all those balls you hit,” Snedeker told the press after the tournament.

What would Brandt tell someone with a hip problem similar to his?

“I’ve heard too many horror stories of what happened to people who didn’t take this kind of condition seriously,” he said. “It can affect you for the rest of your life. It’s worth the effort to get the best medical advice and there is no question that Dr. Philippon and the people at Steadman Philippon are the best at what they do.”

For those who might consider supporting the Steadman Philippon Research Institute, Snedeker said, “Every dollar you donate will go toward helping people recover from orthopaedic conditions and injuries. And everything they are doing at SPRI is on the forefront of helping people return to good health as fast as possible. They did it twice for me.”

Jim Brown is executive editor of SPRI News at the Steadman Philippon Research Institute.

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