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$11-million man

Snedeker hits paydirt in FedEx Cup

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ATLANTA -- Brandt Snedeker played the biggest round of his career for the biggest payoff in golf.

Needing to win the Tour Championship on Sunday to beat out Rory McIlroy for the FedEx Cup, Snedeker came up with three big birdies on the back nine at East Lake to take all the drama out the final day that had been loaded with possibilities.

Snedeker hit his final tee shot into the grandstand left of the 18th green and made bogey. By then, it didn't matter. So dominant was his performance that he was the only player from the last five groups who managed to break par, closing with a 2-under 68.

Along the way, he answered any questions about why Davis Love III made him a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup next week at Medinah.

Snedeker won by three shots over Justin Rose (71) in the Tour Championship, his second title of the year, and collected $1.44 million. And he won the $10 million bonus for capturing the FedEx Cup, which comes with a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour.

McIlroy and Tiger Woods, both of whom could have won the FedEx Cup with a victory Sunday, faded early and were never a factor.

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

McIlroy had won the last two playoff events and three of his last four tournaments dating to his eight-shot win in 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 in the FedEx Cup.

"I knew what I needed to do," McIlroy said. "I needed to win. Brandt knew what he needed to do. And he played fantastic. He really deserved it."

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

Snedeker stopped by a hospital in Atlanta to visit Tucker Anderson, the son of his swing coach who was critically injured in a recent car crash and remains unable to communicate with words.

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

He beat everybody at East Lake in a convincing fashion. After taking a double bogey on the par-3 sixth when he hit his tee shot into the water, Snedeker responded with a 40-foot birdie putt on the eighth, an 18-foot birdie putt on No. 13, and chipping in from short of the 17th green to end all doubt.

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

He finished at 10-under 270 and will move into the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time in his career.

Ryan Moore made the strongest run at Snedeker on the back nine, and with an up-and-down behind the par-5 15th green for back-to-back birdies, he was tied for the lead. Moore never was in the mix for the $10 million bonus, though he could have affected the outcome of the FedEx Cup.

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.

"It's kind of a different pressure, playing for $10 million," Rose said. "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."

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 24, 2012 C1

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