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Snedeker Reaps Huge Payday with Tour Championship Victory
Brandt Snedeker closed with a 2-under 68 Sunday to win the season-ending Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup. The finale of the FedEx Cup Playoffs took place at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.
The prestigious title gave the 31-year-old from Nashville the winner's share of $1.44 million, while Snedeker also pocketed the $10 million bonus that goes to the Cup champion. He finished at 10-under 270 on the par-70 course, three shots clear of England's Justin Rose, who shot 71 Sunday.
Snedeker began the final round tied for the lead with Rose. After a birdie on the par-4 third hole, he ran into trouble on the par-3 sixth when his tee shot found the water and ended up with a double-bogey. But Snedeker played well from there, with four birdies through 17 holes to forge a four-stroke lead as he went to the 18th hole.
After his tee shot hit the grandstands left of the green on the 232-yard, par-3 closer, Snedeker took a drop, chipped to 25 feet and missed his par putt for a meaningless bogey. The tap-in gave the likable Tennessean - who'll be playing in next week's Ryder Cup at Medinah near Chicago along with many other players, American and European, in the elite field - the fourth win of his career and second in 2012.
"At the end of the day, I had complete confidence of what I was doing out there today," he said at greenside. The victory was Snedeker's first when he came into Sunday with a lead; his three prior titles all involved final-round comebacks. "I don't know where it came from," Snedeker said. "I'll try to rekindle it more often in the future." (See below for his full post-round interview.)
He was particularly adept on East Lake's slick greens. In his first three rounds, Snedeker needed 27, 29 and 29 putts, respectively, in crafting a 68, 70 and 64. On Sunday he needed only 25 strokes on the short grass. "I putted great all week," he noted.
Rose told reporters later that, unlike the winner, he had a tough time on the greens. "I didn't get the momentum going on the greens," he said. "I hit a couple of good putts early in my round that didn't go in. But I felt like I got a little tentative on the greens, unfortunately. I'm quite early down the track of what I've been working on with my putting. It's days like today where it gets really tested under pressure, and I've just got to be a little more confident on the greens, I suppose. That will come over time. There is no doubt.
"I've only just embarked on this quest to revamp my putting. I'm a good putter at heart. I know how to make putts. Just when I really needed to make one on 18 and you believe, and you just focus on making the putt and that's it, I can make putts. I'll take the positives out of that."
Snedeker came to Atlanta ranked fifth in the points' rankings behind Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Nick Watney and Phil Mickelson. Since the points system was reworked for the 2009 season he became the first winner in the top five to win at East Lake. Last year's Tour Championship and overall FedEx Cup winner, Bill Haas, entered the tournament ranked 25th.
Tied for third at 274 were Luke Donald (67) and Ryan Moore. Thanks to back-to-back birdies on the 14th and 15th holes, Moore rose into a share of the lead with Snedeker. But the Puyallup, Wash., native, seeking his second PGA Tour win, closed with bogeys on the final three holes for a disappointing 70.
"It was a good day," Moore said later. "Really, a good week. I've been feeling good about my game really for the last few weeks. Started putting the ball a lot better the last few weeks. I was excited to kind of get in the mix, and at least make it a little interesting there for a while.
"You know, it just came down to the last three holes," he added. "They're tough golf holes, and I didn't hit good shots on them. So they'll sneak up on you really quick if you don't put them in the right spots, and unfortunately, that's what got me."
Donald carded two straight 67s over the weekend after opening with a 71 and 69. "It was a lot more solid play," said the 34-year-old Englishman. "I've just been really close, and it's nice to finally string a couple of good rounds together. I came up a little bit short for this week, but it was a good effort."
Webb Simpson matched Sunday's low round, a 4-under 66, to get a piece of fifth at 275 with Bubba Watson, who shot 70. Jim Fuyk posted a 72 for solo seventh at 277, while another stroke back were Hunter Mahan (66) and Tiger Woods (72).
Woods got off to a poor start with two bogeys, a double on the sixth and birdie on the ninth for a 3-over 38 on the front nine. He improved a bit on the back, with three birdies and a pair of bogeys for a 34. "I just didn't have it this weekend," Woods said. "I wasn't sharp."
Despite his rocky finish, Woods was pleased with his performance at East Lake. "I was obviously struggling with my health last year, and this year I was able to turn it around and I played some pretty good golf this year which was good," he told reporters.
Dustin Johnson (70), Matt Kuchar (73), Bo Van Pelt (73), Robert Garrigus (73) and McIlroy (74) shared 10th at 279 in the 30-player field. With wins in the last two FedEx Cup events - the Deutsche Bank Championship and BMW Championship - McIlroy was in prime position entering Atlanta.
But it was not to be for the 23-year-old from Northern Ireland. "Not very good from the tee," said McIlroy, who hit only 41 percent of the fairways Sunday. "You need to hit fairways out here and I didn't. That's the story of the day."
Tied for 15th at 281 were Mickelson (69), Sergio Garcia (68), Scott Piercy (70) and Zach Johnson (74). Adam Scott took solo 19th at 283 after a 72, while Carl Pettersson (71) and Jason Dufner (73) shared 20th at 284.
Rounding out the field in 22nd was Steve Stricker (73) at 286; Keegan Bradley (74), Rickie Fowler (76) and Louis Oosthuizen (77) at 287; John Senden (75) at 288; Ernie Els (71) at 289; Watney (74) at 293; John Huh (77) at 294; and Lee Westwood (74) in last place at 295.
For complete scoring, visit http://www.pgatour.com/r/leaderboard/.
After signing his scorecard, an ebullient Snedeker met with reporters for the following Q&A.
MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome our 2012 FedEx Cup champion, also the winner of the Tour Championship by Coca Cola. You did exactly what you needed to do which was win here and win both. It's getting a little time to sink in. Just give us your reaction?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: It's just unbelievable. You know, it's - you don't think about what's going to happen after today, after the round. It was a full round today. But you go out there and play that round of golf, with that kind of pressure on that tough of a golf course and to go through the adversity I had to go through, hitting the ball in the water and making a double bogey early and fighting my way back.
You know, this is what you work your whole life for. I look at all the putts I've hit and all the shots I've hit all through my life, it's just unbelievable the ability to stay calm today. It just came through. I was so calm last night, I couldn't believe it. Just, I'm very rarely speechless, but this is about as close as I get to speechless.
Q. Of the mile or so of putts you made today, was there one that stands out as being, perhaps, the most important during the round?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I think the birdie putt on 8 was huge. That's a two shot swing. If that putt misses, it's moving pretty good, and it would have been five or six feet by, for sure. That gave me momentum going the other way after the double bogey on 6.
Q. How about the putt on 10? The up and down on 10?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: The up and down was huge. I got really agitated or frustrated at that shot because it was probably the best shot I hit all day. I hit exactly the way I wanted to, and you hit about three of those today. I expected it to be pretty close, and to have it come up short in the bunker was very frustrating. And for me to hit the bunker shot to ten feet, I was able to stay calm and make that putt. That was huge. Don't know how it went in. I pulled it a little bit. It cut the left edge and went in, and kept the momentum going and gave me faith.
Q. Was the win on 10?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Yeah, we misjudged the wind. We thought it was helping more than it was. We got too cute with the second shot, and I thought I hit it close, ended up being a tough up and down.
Q. How does this identify you as a player?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I don't know. I mean, that's what your all's job is for, I guess. I think it solidifies what I already know, and I think when I play my best golf, my best golf is some of the best in the world. You know, 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 okay 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.
Q. Could you talk about your visit to the Shepherd's Center, and what role that played and how calm you were?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Yeah, it was great. It puts everything in perspective. It gave me a little bit of a boost. I was going there expecting the worst, to see Tucker. He was definitely a lot better than I expected him to be. And that was great. To see the way he's fighting and the way Todd and Stacey are fighting, it gives you a lot of things to be thankful for and grateful for. It just made me realize how unimportant, as much as I make today out to be important, how unimportant it really is. It got me focused on the small stuff, which I did a great job of doing today.
Q. That air of calm that you have today, how easy will it be to summon that next week when you make your Ryder Cup debut? And how much will today help you as far as that is concerned?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I'm not under any illusion of being calm next week. I know it's going to be a very pressure packed week. But I am going to use today as a huge thing to fall back on next week. I played against the best in the world this week for 72 holes and I beat them. So nothing's going to happen next week that's going to change that fact. So I'm going to use it as confidence. I'm playing the best golf of my career. The last four weeks I've been playing a bunch, which has been great. And I look forward to getting up there next week and playing some even better golf.
Q. You had some long walks between holes, 9 to 10, and 16 to 17, did you catch yourself scoreboard watching?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I didn't look at the scoreboard all day. I had no clue where I was or what I was doing. My only goal today was to shoot as low as I possibly could, and that's what I did. No good comes out of me looking at the leaderboard. I get too amped up. I get too complacent if I'm ahead, or trying to push too much if I'm behind. So I try to play the same way I would if I had a five shot lead or a five shot deficit.
Q. You said that you've never been as confident as you have in the last five weeks. Was there something that happened? A moment? A shot? A tournament?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Just going over stuff with my team of guys between Todd and Scott, my caddie, and my family and everybody, just realizing that it's okay to boost yourself up a little bit. At the PGA, we had a terrible PGA and played awful, and I felt like I was playing good. We sat down and went over everything, my stats, where I ranked, what was going on, and what needed to be changed. We realized that nothing needed to be changed. Everything was fine. Just to believe in myself a hundred percent no matter what happens. The tougher the courses get, typically, the better I play, to play to my strengths. My strength is my short game, my putting. This week I drove the ball great, and that's why I won. But I made a lot of great up and downs when I needed to today, made some key putts and the more I played to that, funny enough, the better I played.
Q. Your stats guy, did he -
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Yeah, he put it in black and white for me. Very simple. Just let me know that this is where I'm very good at. This is where I need work at. If you put my stats against the rest of the guys in the PGA Tour, I'm a top 5 player on the PGA Tour if I play the way I'm capable of, and it just gave me some confidence that I needed.
Q. I think Justin said something about the extra pressure of playing for $10 million. Is that something that was on top of everything else?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Not at all. I was so worried about trying to beat Justin to win the Tour Championship today. I was not thinking about the $10 million at all until the last hole, and I hit an awful shot. So that shows you what that does for you.
Q. I know you talked about you don't leaderboard watch. Did you know where you stood though on 18?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: No.
Q. You had no idea?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I knew I had a good lead. I figured Justin was in second because I hadn't heard any roars in front of me. And I figured I had a good, comfortable lead. My caddie wanted me to 4 iron in there and hit it short, and me being the guy that I am said, no, it's not going to get there. I need a cut hybrid; and I hit it dead straight and 30 yards too far. That's why you have a big lead.
Q. To follow up, Scott mentioned down there how big this is because you have the victory to come from behind. Does this put it into a different perspective for you?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Yeah, that was my main goal today. I'm sure 90 percent of you all probably didn't pick me to win today, because I've never done it before, and I don't blame you. But today was my day to go out and prove a bunch of people wrong, that I can play with the lead. I can handle the pressure. I've done it my whole career in junior golf, and high school golf, college golf, even on the Nationwide Tour I've played with the lead and won. I knew I could do it. It was just a matter of doing it when the pressure was on, and I did it today.
Q. After you hit the tee shot at 17, did you think that birdie was going to be in your future there at that hole?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: No.
Q. And can you talk us through the shot? Did you have a nervous moment there?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: No, 17 was just a tough hole. I knew if I bailed out right, I still had a good chance of making par. I figured nobody was going to birdie 17 today. It was playing too tough. The wind had it teeing off to the left. You pick your moments to be aggressive. That's not a moment to be aggressive. That's why you play great for 16 holes so you have a shot to play with there if you need it. I tried to play for it. I pulled a 9 iron out of the rough, a flier. I thought the ball was going to go in the water. The wind kind of caught it, brought it back, and I told myself with the pitch shot, that I hadn't made a pitch shot since I can remember. And I'm way overdue. Now it would be the time to do it. It came off perfect and went right in the middle.
Q. Just to clarify a few things, how much time did you spend with Tucker this morning? Was he in a coma?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: He's in a coma. He's in a responsive coma. He's been in a coma for 14 days. He's almost - his biggest thing right now is he has a tracheotomy in right now, so can't talk. He can't tell you what's going on. So it's been tough. But I spent about 30 minutes with him this morning.
Q. He can wink?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: He's only got one good eye. He can wink and give you a fist pump.
Q. And your dad, they said on TV that this was his second tournament he was at. What was the other one?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: The Masters.
Q. Did you find your experience at the British Open helpful today?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I kind of lean back on past experiences, for sure. I looked back at the British, and this morning kind of came to the golf course. I thought about how great that was for my pressure, handling the pressure, and being in a situation like that. Even though I didn't play particularly great, I hung in there very, very well. It could have gotten really ugly on the weekend, and it didn't. So I knew that by just hanging in there today, just stay patient. You hear me say that a hundred times, just stay patient. This golf course wants you to become impatient. Got a couple of good breaks out there, and I stayed patient. The double bogey on 5 or 6 didn't even bother me. I mean, it was a hard hole. I knew guys would make mistakes there. That's why you play great to overcome that.
Q. I know you had your hands full today, but was there even a moment when you thought about next week's Ryder Cup today?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: No, not at all. Couple of times maybe I heard the USA chants going, I thought this is what it's going to feel like next week, the whole week, every match, all day long, and it's stressful. So a little bit of that sank in a little bit. But next week's just going to be as intense as this week was. I'm sure next week will be twice as much.
Q. What are your travel plans to get to Chicago?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I'm going to fly out tomorrow afternoon.
Q. At what point today did you perhaps have the toughest time staying patient out there?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I caught myself on 15, the par 5 after hitting the fairway. I caught myself kind of jumping forward. Thinking of what this would mean to win, and the FedEx Cup and all that stuff. I literally almost hit myself in the face and said boy, we've got a ton of golf left. We've got a bunch of hard holes left. Get back into what you're supposed to be doing. And that shot on the par 5 was huge. It got me that birdie that I needed, and I hit a great shot in there for the first time this week, and got a reward for it.
Q. You were tied at that point? Did you realize that?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: No, who was there? I have no clue.
BRANDT SNEDEKER: What did he end up finishing?
Q. Three bogeys to finish.
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Got you, okay.
Q. It will all be in the paper tomorrow.
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Yeah, no clue.
Q. When did $10 million cross your mind? What does it mean to you, and what are you going to do with it?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: It really hasn't crossed my mind yet to be honest with you, but it's unbelievable. It's going to be an unbelievable thing to go through this process of being financially secure for a long period of time. Looking at what we can do to help other people out with that money. I'm not by any means a flashy guy. 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, for sure.
Q. A follow up on the money. Obviously, you guys play for a lot all the time, but and you touched on it yesterday a little bit - is it hard to not think about what the riches are? The rewards?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Yeah, it's a little crazy. You start throwing around a number like $10 million, it's like crazy talk. It's like winning the lottery. So this will definitely - I don't know. I don't know what to tell you I'm going to do with it because I have no clue what I'm going to do with it (laughing). I really don't know what to expect. This is a new thing for me. I never even thought about having that much money before. Now that I do, I have to figure out how to hold on to it and help people and take care of my family.
Q. What is the biggest material thing you've gotten? What is the one thing you've ever splurged on yourself on?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Our house, which is not grandiose by any means. My dad was always - one thing my dad did really well with me is whatever you buy in your life, you need to make sure you can pay for it. Don't ever go into debt to do anything, and that's what I've done my whole life. This obviously gives me a little more freedom to do some more stuff like that, but I don't. I drive the same car I've had since I've been on the PGA Tour.
Q. What is that?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: A GMC Yukon Denali. Put it this way, this is why I don't need a new car, I've had a car for four and a half years and it's got 24,000 miles on it. So why do I need a new car? It is new. I never drive it.
Q. It's been a difficult testing week for you. What's the one thing you've really learned most about yourself and how you've handled this whole experience?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: That I'm a lot better under pressure than I gave myself credit for. 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.
Q. I heard you say earlier, this is not the most important thing right now in your life. I know you've spoken about your hospital visit earlier this morning. Can you just elaborate a little bit more on golf, this amount of money, and perspectives in your life right now?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Yeah, I mean, I've got another little boy on the way here in a month. The most important thing in my life when I get home tonight will be to see my little girl in the morning and spend time with her before I go to the Ryder Cup. So my life is about to change drastically, not because of this money, but because I'm going to have two kids for the first time in my life, which is going to be absolutely crazy in a month. That is my biggest thing in my life is to make sure I'm a good father and a good dad to those kids. So that's my driving force, to make sure that I am. When I'm home, I try to be home with them.
Q. I'm curious about number six. Was the wind an issue, and how do you put that behind you?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Yeah, the wind was an issue because it was a tough shot. You're hitting a 4 iron to an island green into a left to right wind, which is the worse for a left to right player, and I shot a poor shot. I pushed it. Never had a chance. I did the same thing on Thursday. Yeah, Thursday I did the same thing. That being said, I was 3 over after six holes on Thursday, and played the rest of the week 13 under par. So I knew I could come back from that, which was great.
Q. At what point at number 15 were you thinking things that you had to almost slap yourself for?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Walking off the tee. After the tee shot, I felt it was really important. If I hit the fairway there, I felt like that's a birdie. I felt like I could get up and down from anywhere around that green. So it was like, okay, we're going in the right direction. And I hit a great shot into 16, cut 5 iron, that hole has been playing tough, and that's probably the best shot I hit all day under the gun. Cut is not my forte and to hit that shot under pressure was pretty special.
Q. You had a little rules discussion there.
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I was in a drain that had been re-sodded, and I was in the middle of the sod, not in the sod seams, so I depth get relief.
Q. There are going to be people out there who say Rory won two of the playoff events. You won one. Why did he win the FedEx Cup Championship? What would you say to them about explaining this?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Life is all about timing. You should know that better than anybody else (laughing).
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.
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