Daily Wrap-up: Round 4, TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola

September 23, 2012
Staff and wire reports

ATLANTA -- With the biggest round of his career, Brandt Snedeker won something far more valuable than money Sunday.

He proved to himself he could beat the best in the world.

Snedeker knew his best chance to be the FedExCup champion was to win the TOUR Championship, no simple task with East Lake as tough as ever and Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods going after the same prize.

Snedeker was the only player in the last five groups to break par.

He answered the final challenge with three big birdies on the back nine, building such a big lead that his final tee shot sailed into the grandstands to the left of the 18th green and it didn't even matter. Snedeker still closed with a 2-under 68 for a three-shot win in the TOUR Championship, and a $10 million bonus for winning the FedExCup.

But this was never about money.

"I think it solidifies what I already know," Snedeker said. "I think when I play my best golf, my best golf is some of the best in the world. I've never had more confidence in myself than I have the last five weeks, and I made sure that I kept telling myself that all day. I am one of the best players in the world. This is supposed to happen. It's OK to feel nervous, and no matter what I feel today, everybody else in the field feels exactly the same way I do.

"So go out there and get it done. I did a great job of that."

Playoffs update
ROUND 4: Brandt Snedeker won the FedExCup with his TOUR Championship victory. Final standings | Bonus money

McIlroy, the best player in golf this year and the No. 1 seed going into the TOUR Championship, faded early by dropping four shots in a four-hole span on the front nine. So did Woods, who already was 3 over on his round before making his first birdie on the par-5 ninth.

Snedeker wound up with a three-shot victory over Justin Rose (71) to win the TOUR Championship, his second win this year and a trophy that came with $1.44 million. Add the $10 million bonus from the FedExCup, and it's the richest payoff in golf.

Big deal.

The 31-year-old from Nashville, Tenn., calls that kind of money "crazy talk ... like winning the lottery." Far greater perspective came from a 30-minute hospital visit Sunday morning with Tucker Anderson, the son of his swing coach who was critically injured in a car accident and is in a responsive coma.

"I asked him if he thought I was going to beat Rory McIlroy, and he gave me a wink," Snedeker said.

He beat McIlroy out of the FedExCup, and everyone else in his way at East Lake. Ryan Moore was tied for the lead with birdies on the 14th and 15th holes, only to make bogey on the last three holes for a 70 to tie for third with Luke Donald (67).

McIlroy had won the last two Playoff events and three of his last four tournaments dating to his record eight-shot win at the PGA Championship. He still is virtually a lock to be voted PGA TOUR Player of the Year, but he had to settle for second place -- and a $3 million bonus -- in the FedExCup.

Shot of the Day

Brandt Snedeker holes a 28-foot birdie chip shot on the par-4 17th hole.

And so ends the most successful year yet in the FedExCup -- four wildly entertaining playoff events packed with the biggest names, even if the No. 1 player in the world wound up at No. 2.

"I'm a little disappointed, but at the same time, Brandt really deserves to win," McIlroy said. "He played the best golf out of anyone. He knew what he needed to do. He needed to come in here and win. He controlled his own destiny, just like I did. And he was able to come and do that. So because of that, he really deserves it."

How can Snedeker explain winning the FedExCup over a player who won twice during the Playoffs?

"Life is all about timing," he said, grinning.

Snedeker, who finished on 10-under 270, won for the fourth time in his career and moved into the top 10 in the world for the first time.

It also was his first time winning with a share of the lead going into the last day. In his previous three wins, he came from five shots, six shots and seven shots behind, the latter at Torrey Pines this year.

That's what made Sunday feel more valuable than the cash. That's what he takes to the Ryder Cup next week at Medinah, where no one can question why U.S. captain Davis Love III picked him for the team.

"I'm a lot better under pressure than I gave myself credit for," Snedeker said. "I learned that over the last four weeks. I've had a lot of pressure the last four weeks and a bunch of different stuff going on in my life. To be able to focus in and do what I did was pretty impressive."

Snedeker joins Woods (twice), Vijay Singh, Jim Furyk and Bill Haas as winners of the FedExCup in its six-year history.

It was an emotional week in so many ways for Snedeker, already a high-strung personality. His father, Larry, flew in to watch final round at East Lake, only the second tournament he has attended since having a liver transplant last year. And then came the visit with Tucker.

"It just made me realize ... as much as I made today out be important, how unimportant it really is," he said. "It got me focused on the small stuff, which I did a great job of doing today."

But he delivered some big shots -- a 40-foot birdie putt on No. 8, just two holes after he dumped his tee shot into the water on the par-3 sixth and made double bogey; the 18-foot birdie putt on No. 13 that gave him momentum on the back nine; and a chip-in for birdie from short of the 17th green that effectively clinched it.

"I had complete confidence in what I was doing," Snedeker said.

Rose was within one shot on the back nine, but he never caught up after Snedeker's big birdie on the 13th. Rose will look back on the final round and regret a series of missed putts, mostly for birdies and one for par, all of them costly. He missed four putts inside 10 feet.

"He's mentally tough, Brandt," Rose said. "It's kind of a different pressure, playing for $10 million. It gets in your head more than other golf tournaments. Other golf tournaments, it's more routine. But this week, it's not routine. We talk about it all year long, and suddenly you have to walk the walk. And he did a great job of that today."

Snedeker, McIlroy and Woods were separated by four shots going into the final round. All any of them had to do was win to capture the FedExCup.

MORE FROM EAST LAKE: Larry Dorman is writing nightly columns from the course this week. Click to read more. Archive

Woods, who was four shots behind, was the first to leave the picture. He missed the first fairway with a 3-wood and made bogey, hit into the water on the par-3 sixth hole and was never a factor the rest of the way. He birdied the last hole for a 72 and finished eight shots behind in a tie for eighth.

"I just didn't have it this weekend," Woods said.

McIlroy, three off the lead, also came undone early. He had 11 consecutive rounds in the 60s during the FedExCup playoff, but with a strong breeze and a fierce golf course, that was bound to end. He sped the process along by getting caught up in the rough on No. 4 for bogey, hitting into the water on the sixth for double bogey, and driving into a bunker on the next hole for yet another bogey. He shot a 74 to finish nine strokes back.

The toughest part for Snedeker is figuring out what to do with such a windfall. The only thing he has ever splurged on was his home in Nashville, which he said was "not grandiose." He still drives the SUV he bought when he first joined the PGA TOUR in 2006.

East Lake: Round 4
The par-5 15th hole was the easiest with a Sunday scoring average of 4.267.
The par-3 6th hole was the toughest with a Sunday scoring average of 3.600.
About the winner
• Brandt Snedeker entered the final round of the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola tied for the lead with Justin Rose at 8-under 202. A final-round 2-under 68 gave the 32-year-old Nashville native a three-stroke victory over Rose (71), securing the 2012 FedExCup. He joins past FedExCup winners Bill Haas (2011), Jim Furyk (2010), Tiger Woods (2007, 2009) and Vijay Singh (2008).
• In addition to the $1,440,000 first-place check, Snedeker earns $10 million for winning the FedExCup.
• Snedeker in the FedExCup: 2007 (20th), 2008 (34th), 2009 (33rd), 2010 (37th), 2011 (8th), 2012 (1st).
• Snedeker wins in his third start at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola (T29-2007, T16-2011, 1-2012).
• Snedeker records the 22nd win of the season by a player in his 30s (17 players), compared to 16 wins by players in their 20s and three in their 40s. He becomes the sixth multiple winner of the season, joining Rory McIlroy (4), Tiger Woods (3), Jason Dufner (2), Hunter Mahan (2) and Zach Johnson (2).
• Stats: 2nd in Fairways Hit (37/56-66.1%), T7 in Greens in Regulation (50/72-69.4%), 1st in Strokes Gained -- Putting (1.660 per round), 2nd in Putts per Round (27.50).
• Snedeker becomes the first 54-hole leader/co-leader to carry that lead on to victory in the 2012 PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup. Nick Watney (The Barclays) and Rory McIlroy (Deutsche Bank Championship and BMW Championship) came from behind in their wins.
• This marks the first time in three attempts Snedeker has won after leading or sharing the lead after 54 holes on the PGA TOUR. His most recent experience was less than successful; at the 2010 Waste Management Phoenix Open, Snedeker led by one shot after 54 holes but carded a 78 (+7) on Sunday and finished T43. His only other 54-hole lead (tied) came at the 2007 Buick Invitational; he shot 71 (-1) in the final round and finished third.
• On his way to the winner's circle, Snedeker equaled a career-best 17 of 18 greens in regulation during the third round of the TOUR Championship. It marks the sixth time he has hit 17 of 18 greens on the PGA TOUR. Prior to Saturday, the last time he performed the feat was during the final round en route to victory at the 2012 Farmers Insurance Open.
• On Saturday, Snedeker became the first player ranked within the top five in the FedExCup standings at the beginning of the week to lead the TOUR Championship after 54 holes since the FedExCup points system was reworked for the 2009 season. Beginning in 2009 the point system was modified to allow the top five in the standings to control their own destiny -- win the TOUR Championship and win the FedExCup.
• Snedeker began the FedExCup Playoffs ranked No. 19 after a solid 2012 regular season, which included a playoff victory over Kyle Stanley at the Farmers Insurance Open. There, Snedeker made up a seven-shot deficit to claim his third career PGA TOUR victory (and third in come-from-behind fashion).

"I'm not by any means a flashy guy," he said. "Of anybody that I know, I do not need $11 million. So there are going to be things we can do to really help people. So that's the way I look at it. This is unbelievable to be financially stable for the rest of my career. As long as I'm not an idiot, I should be fine, really. I really think we can make a difference and help a lot of people out in Nashville and Tennessee and the surrounding areas."