ATLANTA — Saturday’s first round of the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, the final event in the FedExCup Playoffs that will determine this year’s FedExCup champion, is in the books. Here’s a look at the key developments and notes concerning the FedExCup:
NO. 1 PROJECTION: Brandt Snedeker, who owns a share of the lead with Justin Rose at 8 under, is currently projected to win the FedExCup. That’s because he came to East Lake ranked fifth in the standings and is guaranteed the $10 million bonus with a TOUR Championship victory.
Rory McIlroy, who started the week ranked first, is now projected No. 2 while Rose, who came in 24th, is third and Tiger Woods is fourth.
HOW TOP FIVE FARED: Any of the top five players in points after the reset can win the FedExCup by winning the TOUR Championship. Here’s a look at their third rounds.
|Player||Score||Thru 54||Pos||Quick review|
|Rory McIlroy||68||5 under||T4||McIlroy has steadily improved in
hitting fairways each day, with 8 on Saturday, and he found
12 greens, as well. But he needs some putts to fall –
McIlroy ranks 11th in strokes-gained putting.
Strokes back: He needs to make up four strokes to win the Cup.
|Tiger Woods||67||4 under||T7||Saturday was bounce-back day for
Woods. Interestingly, though, his fairways hit declined for
the second straight day, but 13 greens in regulation tied for
his best of the week.
Strokes back: He needs to make up five shots to win the Cup.
|Nick Watney||70||9 over||29th||Watney birdied his first hole
but made three straight bogeys starting at the third. Birdies
at Nos. 7 and 18, though, gave Watney his best score of a
Strokes back: He needs to make up 18 shots to win the Cup.
|Phil Mickelson||72||2 over||T20||Mickelson is tied for 29th in
fairways hit and 16th in greens in regulation.
Saturday’s 27 putts were his low of the week but that
double-bogey start put him behind the eight-ball.
Strokes back: He needs to make up 11 strokes to win the Cup.
|Brandt Snedeker||64||8 under||T1||Snedeker made six birdies and it
could have been more as he missed chances of 20 feet or less
on three of his first four holes. He’s tied for first
in fairways hit and greens in regulation.
Strokes back: He is actually three strokes to the good in his battle to win the Cup.
BIGGEST MOVERS: Justin Rose continues to make his presence known. He’s tie for first for the second time in three rounds at East Lake this week and has moved up 21 spots to third in the FedExCup. Ryan Moore, who played his way into the top 30 at the BMW Championship, has moved up 19 spots into ninth.
ODDS & ENDS: If the TOUR Championship had ended after the third round, there would have been some interesting scenarios. Brandt Snedeker and Justin Rose would have played off for the TOUR Championship title – and if Rose had won, Snedeker and Rory McIlroy would have been involved in a sudden death playoff for the FedExCup title. …
Brandt Snedeker is the first player ranked in the all-important top five to take the lead into the final round of the TOUR Championship since the points system was reworked in 2009. …
Ryan Moore made the second-biggest move in the projected standings on Saturday when he shot a 65. He started the Playoffs ranked 64th and finished in the top 25 of each one, including ties for 10th in the last two. He must win the TOUR Championship – and get considerable help – to win the FedExCup. Not that he’s thinking about the dual victory. “I honestly have no chance to win the FedExCup,” Moore said. “That is my reality. But I do have a chance to win a golf tournament. That is my focus. I haven't won a golf tournament this year. I only have one more chance, one more tournament I'm playing after this, so this is one of my last chances to close out the year the right way.”
Brandt Snedeker reflects on his play in the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola with John Maginnes from SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio.
Following a third-round 68, Rory McIlroy talks about his play at East Lake with Fred Albers from SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ATLANTA -- Rory McIlroy thinks 10 under is a good target score.
If he can get there on Sunday, the young Northern Irishman figures he has a great chance to win the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola -- as well as the FedExCup. He controls his own destiny with a win, but so does Brandt Snedeker, who is currently tied for the lead at 8 under, three strokes ahead of McIlroy.
And don't forget Tiger Woods, who starts the final round at 4 under. He came into the week ranked second to McIlroy's first-place standing in the FedExCup and has his eye on the $10 million prize for the third time in the competition's six-year history.
"They're not up at the top of the standings for nothing," McIlroy said. "They're playing well. They've played well the last few weeks. So, yeah, I knew coming in here if I won, I'd win everything, and that's still my attitude going into tomorrow."
McIlroy is hardly the underdog. He won the last two Playoffs events and is the top seed, and until Snedeker birdied the 17th hole on Saturday, he was still projected No. 1.
And there are plenty of permutations that would put the silver Tiffany trophy in McIlroy's hands and the $10 million in his bank account without a win. So he's looking forward to the challenge on Sunday.
"It's going to be one of the most exciting Sundays of the year," McIlroy said. "There are a few guys still in it with a chance to win the FedExCup to win this tournament. So looking forward to it. Great to be in the mix. Only three back, so I'm excited about the prospect of a very exciting finish tomorrow."
McIlroy has flirted with the 64 or 65 he figures he'll need to shoot in the final round at East Lake. He just hasn't found enough fairways, only 50 percent over the first three rounds, to let him go aggressively at the greens. And many of those birdie putts have stubbornly refused to fall.
McIlroy has stayed patient, though -- a state of mind that has marked an impressive run that includes wins in three of his last four starts, the first of which was an eight-stroke victory at the PGA Championship.
"You go play the first hole, and you see how you do there,” McIlroy said. “Then you play the second, and you see how you do there. It's all you're really doing. That's the way I feel like I have been playing for the last few weeks."
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ATLANTA -- For more than a decade, Tiger Woods topped Forbes's annual list of the the richest athletes in the world.
The reason he holds that distinction is simple. Woods doesn't think about the money. He just focuses on piling up the victories, 74 and counting right now, -- and Sunday at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola will be no exception.
Woods will start the final round of the FedExCup Playoffs finale four shots off the lead. Win the tournament and he becomes the first three-time winner of the $10 million bonus.
But Woods is quick to tell you, "That's not why we play.
"I'm playing for the W, and tomorrow I get a great shot at it," he said. "You know, all the money and awards and all of that stuff, that comes along with winning championships. That's the way I've always looked at it, and right now I'm four back. If I win the golf tournament, everything's kind of taken care of."
Woods put himself in position for his fourth victory of season with round of 67 on this breezy Saturday that left him at 4 under. The turnaround was important after Woods squandered a share of the first-round lead with a 73 on Friday that marked his first score above par at East Lake in 14 rounds.
Not that he was worried, though.
"I've done it before," Woods said when asked about the bounce-back round. "I've been out here a long time, and just claw your way back into it, and usually I'll take a round in the 60s. I figured the guys aren't going to go out and run off and hide on this golf course. It's just playing too difficult."
Woods' 67 on Saturday was much tidier than the second round that saw him make five bogeys and one double bogey, along with the three birdies. He only used 29 putts, as opposed to 32 on Friday, and hit 72 percent of his fairways.
And now he has a chance to accomplish the dual victory for the third time in his career. Just don't ask him which W would mean more.
"I think they go hand in hand," Woods said.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ATLANTA -- Brandt Snedeker came up with what he called "probably one of the best rounds I've played this year" when it counted most.
And after that 64 on Saturday, Snedeker finds himself tied for the lead at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola -- and in the catbird seat as far as the FedExCup and its $10 million bonus is concerned.
Snedeker and Justin Rose will start Sunday's final round at East Lake at 8 under and leading Ryan Moore by two strokes. Rose held steady with his second-straight 68 while Moore had a 65 in the third round.
Snedeker, who finished second and sixth in the first two events of the FedExCup Playoffs, entered this week's finale ranked fifth. As such, he is guaranteed the eye-opening bonus with a victory on Sunday -- regardless of what anyone else in the field should do.
Now, the Vanderbilt product just has finish off the job.
"My first goal for this week is achieved, and that is to have a chance going into Sunday," Snedeker said. "I think something like 90 something percent of the PGA TOUR winners come from the last two groups, and that's where I want to be in those last two groups.
“So I know get I get a chance to do that tomorrow, and it should be a lot of fun."
Snedeker, though, isn’t the only player who controls his own fate. Rory McIlroy, who entered the week ranked No. 1, trails by three with Bubba Watson and Jim Furyk, who triple bogeyed the 17th hole to fall out of a tie for the lead.
Tiger Woods, who came in ranked second in the FedExCup, is among four players are 4 under. McIlroy has dropped to second in the projections while Woods clocks in at No. 4 entering the final round.
Like Snedeker, either Woods or McIlroy can also win the FedExCup with a win at the TOUR Championship.
“It's going to be one of the most exciting Sundays of the year,” McIlroy said. “There are a few guys still in it with a chance to win the FedExCup to win this tournament. So looking forward to it. Great to be in the mix. Only three back, so I'm excited about the prospect of a very exciting finish tomorrow.”
Rose, on the other hand, knows he needs a "little help from my friends," he said, smiling, in order to win the FedExCup. He came in 24th and knew, for example, he likely needed McIlroy to finish lower than 17th -- and that doesn't take into account the other players in the top five.
"Every credit to him," Rose said. "He's having a very solid week, as I expected him to.
“And Brandt, you've got to give him credit.I know he got off to a rough start on Thursday, and to climb back and tie for the lead being in that sort of vital top 5 is a wonderful performance. So he's going to be the one out of the two of us thinking about it overnight."
Rose plans to just focus on the TOUR Championship.
"The whole year we've been grinding for the FedExCup, and it's still possible," he said. "It's not an easy golf course. Things can happen out there. But for me, it's about one tournament. I wish I would be in the situation that Brandt's in. I would trade him, but obviously, that's the position I'm in."
ATLANTA -- Brandt Snedeker joined Jim Furyk and Justin Rose at the top of the leaderboard when he posted a bogey-free 64 in the third round of the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola.
Rose and Furyk have four holes remaining but when he walked off the 18th green, Snedeker was projected No. 1 in the FedExCup. Snedeker started the week ranked No. 5 -- one of the players who is assured of winning the $10 million bonus with a win in the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola.
Snedeker, who won his third PGA TOUR event earlier this year, was near-flawless on Saturday. He hit 10 of 14 fairways, all but one green in regulation and made six birdies on 29 putts. He ranks second in strokes gained putting this week.