FedExCup top 5 now positioned to chase the big prize

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Nick Watney admits that he ran out of steam at Crooked Stick. In two weeks at East Lake, however, the FedExCup will be there for the taking.
September 09, 2012
Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

CARMEL, Ind. -- Brandt Snedeker has what he called Sunday a "love-hate" relationship with the BMW Championship. He was smiling when he said it, and this year, he could well afford to.

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Three years ago, though, Snedeker had four-putted the 72nd hole at Cog Hill, a gaffe that sent him tumbling from 28th to 32nd in the FedExCup and eliminated him from the final event in the FedExCup Playoffs.

But this season is different. In two weeks, Snedeker heads to East Lake as one of the five players who are guaranteed the $10 million bonus if they win the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola.

He did have an anxious moment or two at Crooked Stick, though, since he was projected to fall from fourth to sixth when he finished off a round of 74 that included bogeys on his last two holes. Turns out, Snedeker locked down the fifth and final spot with his tie for 27th after putting himself in the position to control his own destiny when he finished solo second at The Barclays and sixth at the Deutsche Bank Championship.

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Here are the top five players following the BMW Championship:
1 Rory McIlroy
2 Tiger Woods
3 Nick Watney
4 Phil Mickelson
5 Brandt Snedeker

"This tournament, it's a love-hate tournament -- either you love it or your hate it," Snedeker said. "I've had the best of both worlds here so it's nice to be back in Atlanta and not have to sweat this week out like I have in the past.

"I am playing good. Today was a bad day but I've been playing great all week and just ready to get some rest and get back at in Atlanta."

Rory McIlroy, who made the BMW Championship his second straight Playoffs victory, holds down the No. 1 spot as he prepares for his TOUR Championship debut. Tiger Woods, already a two-time FedExCup champion, moved up to second, changing places with Nick Watney, who gained his spot among the elite when he won The Barclays two weeks ago.

"It'll be my first trip to East Lake, so it'll be a new golf course for me,' said McIlroy, who closed with a 67 at Crooked Stick and won by two. "But that's what the FedExCup Playoffs were designed for, to have the best players playing at this time of the year and to make it exciting.

"... So you've got all these top guys with a chance to win going into Atlanta. It's what it's all about, and it makes it exciting for the end of the year.

Phil Mickelson, who is one of just three players to make it to the TOUR Championship in all six years of the FedExCup, nosed his way into the top 5 with his tie for second at the BMW Championship. He's fourth after his second straight top-10 in the Playoffs, bumping Snedeker to fifth and Playoffs rookie Louis Oosthuizen to sixth.

"I'm really pleased with the way my game has come around the last two weeks," Mickelson said. "... It puts me in a position where if I can improve just a little bit more for the TOUR Championship and win, I'll be able to win the FedExCup.

"I accomplished one of my goals, which was to get in the top 5. The other would have been obviously to win. But more than that, I just feel really good about where my game is headed, and hopefully I'll keep improving on that for next week."

Watney didn't figure to be in the top five as he started the Playoffs. He was 49th after he tied for 31st at the Wyndham Championship but vaulted to No. 1 when he came from behind on the Black Course at Bethpage State Park to beat Sergio Garcia.

Watney wasn't completely sure he would remain in the top five when he finished off his round of 74 on Sunday. He noted that Bill Haas's dual victory at East Lake -- winning the FedExCup and the TOUR Championship in a playoff last year -- should give everyone hope.

"I just ran out of gas this week," Watney said. "It was my sixth in a row, and I was just very flat and just ran out of gas. ... But Bill showed last year that there's always a chance. I think just going there and trying to take care of business, hopefully I can control my own destiny, but if I go there and win, FedExCup hopefully will take care of itself."

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