By Steve Keating
AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Brandt Snedeker is a man with a plan and it is a simple one after he surged into a share of the third-round lead at Augusta National on Saturday - win the Masters.
After firing a bogey-free three-under 69 to join Argentine Angel Cabrera in the final pair on Sunday, Snedeker promised he had learned his lessons from five years ago when he also played in the last group and left his news conference in tears.
Snedeker was two behind going into the final round that day and had briefly held a share of the lead before dropping six shots over the last 16 holes to finish in a tie for third.
"I had no clue what I was doing in 2008," recalled the 32-year-old Snedeker. "I had no game plan, no idea of when to be aggressive, when not to be aggressive, how to play this golf course the way you're supposed to play it.
"I have a completely clear focus of what I need to do tomorrow, a clear set of goals that I need to hit."
When it comes to achieving goals, world number five Snedeker has already ticked off quite a few while establishing himself as one of golf's top talents.
The American enjoyed a spectacular campaign last year with a win at the Farmers Insurance Open, followed by a third place finish at the British Open, a maiden selection to the U.S. Ryder Cup team and capped off by taking home a $10 million bonus as the FedExCup winner with victory at the Tour Championship.
But all that, says the fast-talking Snedeker, was merely preparation for Sunday.
"I've spent 32 years of my life getting ready for tomorrow and it's all been a learning process and I am completely, 100 percent sure that I'm ready to handle this no matter what happens tomorrow," said Snedeker.
"I'm not here to get a good finish. I'm not here to finish top five. I'm here to win and that's all I'm going to be focused on tomorrow.
"I realize what I have to do and I'm going to do everything I can to make sure that that happens."
Snedeker carried his momentum from last year into this season and would have been among the favorites to don the green jacket if not for a rib injury.
One of the game's best putters, Snedeker started the season as the PGA Tour's hottest player with a win, two runner-up finishes and a third place from five starts to race to the top of the FedExCup standings.
But following his fifth PGA Tour victory at Pebble Beach in February, Snedeker put himself on the sidelines to rest his sore rib cage to be ready for the year's first major.
After missing five weeks, he returned to action at the Arnold Palmer Invitational where he failed to make the cut.
A rusty Snedeker also missed the cut the following week at the Houston Open, leaving him as a Masters wildcard instead of a favorite.
"It's been two seasons, I guess, is the best way to put it," said Snedeker. "The first part of the season, I was healthy, playing great, nothing was wrong. Then I got hurt and had to start pretty much from scratch again.
"I'm fresh, I'm mentally fresh and physically fresh and you know, this is what I've worked my whole life for is tomorrow. So I'm really excited about what tomorrow holds."
(Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)