By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM correspondent
ATLANTA -- With the wind swirling and the sixth hole measuring 202 yards, the par-3 sixth at East Lake was a brutal test during Sunday's final round. The peninsula green was hard to reach, and nine balls (out of 30 tee shots) found the water. That’s almost a third of the field. Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods and Brandt Snedeker all splashed and made double bogeys.
Fairways: I thought McIlroy was primed to turn in his best performance of the week; instead Sunday was his worst. It’s not hard to determine the cause of his 74 -- McIlroy drove the ball poorly. He hit just two of 14 fairways in the final round. On the plus side, Rory’s birdie to fairway ratio was excellent. McIlroy birdied both the 12 and 15th holes, the only holes in which he found the fairway.
Water level: There was never a chance for anyone to duplicate Bill Haas “water shot” this year. Hass, the 2011 TOUR Championship winner, played a ball from out of the water at the 17th while beating Hunter Mahan in a playoff last year. This season, East Lake’s water level is much higher, lapping up onto the slope to the left of the green. Either a golf ball held up in the long grass or tumbled down the hill into two feet of water.
Family affair: If Justin Rose was feeling disappointed leaving the 18th green, it did not last long. Hiding behind the corner of the grandstand was 3-year-old Leo. Rose’s son plotted the perfect ambush and jumped out in front of his father yelling, “Boo.” Rose immediately swept the boy into his arms and they laughed together all the way to the scoring trailer.
Winner, winner: Brandt Snedeker’s chip-in birdie at the 17th was impressive, and he was clearly the best golfer at East Lake the entire week. He was second in fairways hit (37 of 56); he was seventh in greens in regulation (50 of 72). He found just four bunkers the entire week and was 4 for 4 in sand saves. Snedeker was second in total putts with rounds of 27-29-29-25. Finally, he led the TOUR Championship in strokes-gained putting. Brandt Snedeker dominated the statistics and the leaderboard.
Chicago bound: Players say it’s difficult to take a swing from the driving range to the first tee, let alone predict what will happen the following Friday. Taking that into account, it’s important to recognize that U.S. Ryder Cup players had a very good week at the TOUR Championship.
The Ryder Cup is all about putting and there were four U.S. team members in the top 10 of strokes-gained putting, with Snedeker and Matt Kuchar ranking first and second. Keegan Bradley was fourth in strokes-gained putting while Bubba Watson was ninth. Luke Donald and Justin Rose were the top Europeans, ranking sixth and eighth respectively.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here .