A couple of Sundays ago, PGA Tour player Brandt Snedeker and his Canadian caddie Scott Vail were on a win-win FedEx Cup high.
A week later, they were downtrodden and mired in disbelief as they staggered into the United States team room after a mighty collapse that allowed Europe to snatch the Ryder Cup again.
There was already plenty to deal with for Snedeker and Vail. There was the Tour Championship win and subsequent FedEx Cup title, all that money that came with the two lofty achievements (more on that later), and an automobile accident that left the son of Snedeker's swing coach fighting for his life.
"I'm still not sure everything has kicked in yet," said Vail, who returned to his hometown of Oshawa, Ont. for some rest and to spend time with his family this week. "It's been an emotional month. There have been a ton of highs and lows. But we really haven't had to think about everything. I'm sure Brandt would say the same things.
"It's not easy. You go from one Sunday and all the good feelings to the next Sunday when that happens at the Ryder Cup in front of the whole world. I don't want to sound like I'm using this as a cliché, but the serious car accident put life into perspective."
Todd Anderson's son Tucker suffered serious head and back injuries in a Sept. 7 near-fatal car accident in Pensacola, Fla. He spent time in a coma and now faces a long road of rehabilitation.Getting a boost
But the younger Anderson received a boost when Snedeker stopped by the Shepherd Center in Atlanta to visit Tucker before the final round of the Tour Championship. The PGA Tour player fist-bumped his fallen friend and received a wink in return.
Snedeker then proceeded to the East Lake golf course and to close the deal and win the coveted tournament and FedEx title.
"Brandt had this calm about him on that Sunday," said Vail, who wrote the word Tuck on his hat for that final round. "It was a day to remember."
Snedeker and Vail made their way to Chicago for the Ryder Cup the next day. Everywhere Vail turned people offered their congratulations and best wishes. Of course, they also wanted to know what percentage of the combined $11.44-million US winner's cheque -- given to the victor of the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup title -- did the caddie receive.
"Let's just say Brandt has always been generous to me and he took care of me," Vail said.
Golfer-caddie relationships on the PGA Tour vary from duo to duo. Vail and Snedeker are friends. They hang out while out on tour, but give each other space when they are off.
Vail, 36, is single. Snedeker is 31 years old and married. He and his wife Mandy have a young daughter and are expecting their second child. Even though Snedeker hails from Nashville and lives there he has a Canadian connection because of Vail.
"Brandt has become an adopted Canadian," Vail said. "He loves it. He tries to play in the Canadian Open if it fits in his schedule."
Vail himself receives plenty of attention from Canadian golf fans, too.
"I find it flattering and embarrassing sometimes," he said. "Sometimes I call home and my mom will let me know about somebody who stopped her because they heard my name or something. Canada is a proud nation when it comes to sports."Hockey connection
Vail is the son of former NHL forward Eric Vail, who played 591 games with the Atlanta and Calgary Flames as well as the Detroit Red Wings. But it was golf that caught his fancy when he was young.
He worked at the Oshawa Golf Club and it was there he met and became friends with another junior golfer named Derek Gillespie. When Gillespie returned home to turn pro after his golf scholarship at the University of Arizona concluded, Vail began caddying for him on the Canadian and Nationwide Tours (the latter now is called the Web.com Tour).
Vail's life as a looper began to snowball on the Nationwide Tour when he met Snedeker seven years ago. The two had immediate success with two wins and a playoff loss in the first seven events of 2006.
In 2007, he was named PGA Tour rookie of the year and the 2012 Tour Championship was his fourth career win. In 22 events this season, Snedeker enjoyed two wins, seven top-10 finishes and 10 top-25 showings, plus his maiden appearance for the United States at the Ryder Cup.
All this was a rich experience for his Canadian caddie, in more ways than one.
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