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Wayward drives kept Brandt Snedeker scrambling a bit more than he preferred to on Thursday. (Martin/Getty Images)

Snedeker focuses on keeping it on straight and narrow

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Brandt Snedeker carved out an excellent 71 Thursday, but hit only five fairways. He knows that won't work all week long, so he hit the driving range until the the last rays of daylight gave out.

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM Chief of Correspondents

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. - The shadows were lengthening Thursday evening, but Brandt Snedeker was determined to use every ray of sunlight remaining as he headed to the range.

He managed to eke out a 1-over 71 in the first round of the PGA Championship, but Snedeker's driver had refused to behave. He only hit five fairways Thursday, but he had stayed with the driver anyway to combat Oakland Hills' 7,395 unforgiving yards.

"I figured I was hitting everything crooked right now so I might as well get it closer to the green, " Snedeker said with a shrug. "I didn't hit many fairways on the back nine, but I just scrambled and made a lot of 8-, 9-footers for par, which you've got to do."

Snedeker made the turn 1 under but his momentum was halted by the 85-minute rain delay. After some couch time and a "couple of meals," he joked, he came back out and made two bogeys, but was hardly out of the hunt.

"The wind really calmed down and there were still some tough pins out there," he said. "All in all, it was a good first day. The course is so playing so tough you can't lose your patience at all."

Snedeker, who will defend his first PGA TOUR title next week at the Wyndham Championship, tied for third at the Masters and ninth at the U.S. Open earlier this year. His finish at Torrey Pines, though, is his only top-10 since he played in the final group with Masters champion Trevor Immelman at Augusta National that Sunday.

The culprit, at least of late, has been Snedeker's putter. He changed his ball position last week at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, though, and by the weekend, he was feeling much better on the greens.

"I finally moved it back after several months of being stubborn and I've started rolling it good again," he said.

Snedeker would like nothing better than for everything to come together this week. In addition to trying to win his first major, he's trying to play his way onto Paul Azinger's Ryder Cup team.

He currently ranks 15th in the standings. The top eight at the end of the PGA Championship - where points are doubled - earn automatic spots. Azinger will complete his team with four Captain's Picks on Sept. 2.

"If I play good, I take care of it," Snedeker said simply. "If I don't, then I try to play good next week. I put a lot of pressure on myself just because I haven't played good of late. I'm due for a good week."

As much as he wants to represent the United States in the biennial competition, though, Snedeker says he didn't think about the Ryder Cup once on Thursday. He's got enough on his hands just trying to battle the course Ben Hogan called the "monster."

"This course is so tough, I'm just worried about the first tee shot," Snedeker said. "If you're off by a fraction for a day, you'll be shooting 80 easy. I'm going to go try to get my driver squared away and figure out how to hit more fairways tomorrow.

"I need to try to set up some birdie opportunities. They are few and far between out there and when you do have one, you need to make it."

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