Full speed ahead for Brandt Snedeker

ORLANDO, Fla. -- For more than a month, Brandt Snedeker sat at home, fidgeting. His family moved to a new house in Nashville, but he was advised not to lift anything. He didn't swing a golf club for more than three weeks.

Since walking off the 18th hole at Pebble Beach victorious in mid-February, the world's fourth-ranked player has been on the sideline, a rib injury that started bothering him in the final round serious enough to force a sabbatical.

"It's been tough being away because I was playing so good, and missed a lot of great tournaments and great venues that I love," Snedeker said Tuesday. "But I'm back healthy and excited to have a chance to play."

Snedeker returns this week at Bay Hill for the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and still leads the PGA Tour money and FedEx Cup points lists despite missing both World Golf Championship events.

In consecutive weeks, he finished second to Tiger Woods at the Farmers Insurance Open, second to Phil Mickelson at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and then won the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Snedeker described his injury as a muscle strain on his left side, something that has occurred before, but on his right side.

"I had about every test run you can possibly have run and the good news is I'm completely healthy," he said. "The bad news is I'm completely healthy. I don't know why it keeps happening. I was kind of hoping that something would creep up and would lead me to see [why] this keeps happening, and nothing kind of came up. So just kind of chalk it up to bad luck I guess and get back healthy."

Snedeker reports no issues now, but said it affected him through impact and follow-through on his swing. And it didn't really bother him until the last four or five holes at Pebble Beach.

Still, it was bad enough to knock him out of action at a time when he's playing some of the best golf of his career. And the reigning FedEx Cup champion is not looking to ease back in.

"I have very high expectations," he said. "I think that I'm very confident in what I'm doing. I'm fresh. I'm probably the freshest guy on the PGA Tour right now because I haven't played in five weeks, and I'm probably one of the few guys who is really excited about the next stretch of golf. So I feel great about it.

"I just want to give myself a chance on Sunday. Get up there and have a chance on Sunday with a great field like this would be a lot of fun."

Because of all the time away, Snedeker has added next week's Shell Houston Open to help prepare for the Masters, a tournament he dearly did not want to miss.

"The biggest thing was making sure I was healthy," he said. "I wasn't really concerned with one tournament. The Masters is obviously important, but I'm not going to jeopardize the British Open, the PGA, the rest of the year on making sure I can play the Masters. I'm in this thing for the next 10 years. I've got to make sure I do the smart stuff for my body going forward.

"But I also wanted to make sure I was healthy enough 100 percent to play the Masters. I didn't want to come back and be 90 percent at the Masters. That was my thought process."