PEBBLE BEACH -- At the point that Brandt Snedeker left with the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am championship trophy last year, he appeared well on his way to a possible PGA Tour Player of the Year season.

It didn't happen. While he still had his best year on tour, winning $5.3 million and finishing third in the FedEx Cup standings, Snedeker was once again beset by a chronic rib problem that slowed him down after a start in which he won more than $2.6 million in his first five events with his AT&T win, plus two runner-up finishes and a third.

Snedeker's subsequent derailment actually began during his late push to win the AT&T on the final day. On his drive at Pebble Beach Golf Links' 14th hole, he felt a stabbing pain in his rib cage. He managed to finish the round and walk away with a two-stroke victory, but he would go on to miss six weeks because of the injury.

While he would rebound to win the Canadian Open in July and perform reasonably well in the majors, he never truly regained his early form.

It's been a slow start to 2014, too, after Snedeker strained the ACL in his left knee during a freakish fall at a corporate event in China in November.

"Any time you've got a lot of confidence and momentum and you get hurt, you come back and there are a lot of uncertainties as to how your body's going to feel, how your game's going to feel," he said Wednesday. "It was tough getting back that confidence I had at the beginning of the year."

Snedeker learned midway through last year that his rib problems have been caused by a condition called low bone turnover in which the bones in his rib cage don't regenerate quickly enough, causing them to become brittle and break, as they have four of the past six years.

But with the diagnosis came medicine that may help him overcome the problem. On the top of that, he said his knee is fine -- he has played three consecutive weeks coming into the AT&T. Now he's just waiting on his game to get healthy. He has just one top 25, a tie for 11th at the limited-field Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

"Even though the results aren't there, the game's actually really close," he said. "I was watching footage of last year's tournament and I feel like I'm doing a lot of things a lot better than I was last year (after the injury) and just not quite coming through. So this next little stretch for me should entail some pretty good golf."

  • One of the most excited first-time players at the AT&T is Cal product Max Homa, who won the 2013 NCAA individual championship. He made his professional debut at the Frys.com Open in October and placed ninth.

    After finishing tied for sixth in the PGA qualifying school in December, the 23-year-old Homa earned seven PGA Tour exemptions and is fully exempt on the Web.com Tour for the first 12 weeks.

    "I couldn't imagine doing this about a year ago," said Homa, who's from Valencia. "Getting to go to school up here kind of makes it even more special. I know I have some teammates and friends coming out, so it makes me appreciate it even more."

    Homa has had a remarkable last 12 months. He also qualified for the U.S. Open in Merion last June (he missed the cut) and played on the victorious U.S. Walker Cup team in September.

  • Strange sighting during Wednesday's practice rounds -- Denver quarterback Peyton Manning playing in the same group with a longtime adversary, New England coach Bill Belichick.

    Belichick will play alongside his quarterback, Tom Brady, in the actual tournament with pros James Driscoll and Ricky Barnes. Manning is paired with pro Scott Langley, and he'll play in a foursome that also includes pro Greg Owen and former 49ers offensive lineman Harris Barton.

    Most of the celebrities and top pros will once again open at Monterey Peninsula Country Club on Thursday, followed by Spyglass Hill on Friday and Pebble Beach on Saturday.

  • Actors Andy Garcia and Lucas Black were the big winners in the 3M Celebrity Challenge, winning a total of $60,000 for their charities. Musicians Darius Rucker and Clay Walker earned $30,000, while comedian Ray Romano and musician Joe Don Rooney earned $20,000 in the five-hole, alternate-shot event at Pebble Beach.