Commentary

Snedeker double dips at East Lake

Originally Published: September 24, 2012
By Bob Harig | ESPN.com

ATLANTA -- Aside from the guys who had a crack at snagging $10 million away from him, it would be hard to find anyone in the world of golf who is not happy for Brandt Snedeker.

The fast-talking, fast-walking mop-headed golfer who played collegiately at Vanderbilt sobbed after a tough final round a few years ago at the Masters. He overcame injuries earlier this year to get selected to his first Ryder Cup team and he's now the 2012 FedEx Cup champion.

That doesn't have the same ring to it that comes with winning one of the four major championships, but the $10 million bonus that goes to the winner of the PGA Tour's playoff series surely helps soothe any immediate feelings about that.

And probably coolest of all? Snedeker sounds like someone who'd be just fine if he won thousands rather than millions.

"It's going to be an unbelievable thing to go through this process of being financially secure for a long period of time," said Snedeker, who in addition to the $10 million bonus receives $1.44 million as his share of the purse for winning the Tour Championship. "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."

The fact that Snedeker won the Tour Championship by 3 shots over Justin Rose and kept the typically contrived and confusing points scenarios to a minimum makes for a nice bow on that FedEx package.

Even Rory McIlroy, who finished second to Snedeker in the final FedEx standings despite two playoff victories, a major championship and a total of four wins this year (to Snedeker's two), was left to give a golf clap to Snedeker while having to "settle'' for his $3 million bonus.

"I'm a little disappointed, but at the same time, Brandt really deserves to win," McIlroy said. "If you look at his stats the whole way [throughout] the week, 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. Because of that, he really deserves it."

[+] EnlargeBrandt Snedeker
Sam Greenwood/Getty ImagesBrandt Snedeker's fourth PGA Tour victory certainly was his most lucrative day in his pro career. Besides pocketing the $1.44 million for winning the Tour Championship, Snedeker also claimed the $10 million bonus for taking the FedEx Cup playoffs title.

With his victory, Snedeker, 31, won for the second time this year and fourth in his PGA Tour career. It was the first time, however, he won with the lead, as he came from well back in each of his three previous triumphs.

That was a motivating factor for Snedeker, as was proving his worth as a pick for this week's Ryder Cup and simply getting the job done against such an elite field. The Tour Championship boasted 17 of the 24 Ryder Cup players from both sides and 21 of the top 22 in the world rankings.

"I think it solidifies what I already know, I think when I play my best golf, my best golf is some of the best in the world," he said. "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."

Neither McIlroy nor Tiger Woods were able to make a run at Snedeker. As Snedeker's tee shot found the water at the par-3 sixth hole, the Nos. 1 and 2 players in the world both did the same earlier Sunday. McIlroy and Woods made double bogey. While Snedeker also came away with a double bogey, it never dropped him out of the lead.

His closest pursuers were players who had little chance of claiming the FedEx Cup. Rose, who began the day tied with Snedeker, finished 3 shots back, while Ryan Moore -- who was tied for the lead on the back nine but bogeyed his last three holes -- finished tied for third with Luke Donald.

McIlroy shot a final-round 74, his first over-par round in the last three playoff events, to tie for 10th. It was his first Tour Championship. Woods, who was 4-over par through six holes Sunday, shot 72 to tie for eighth, and for the first time since the FedEx Cup began in 2007, came to East Lake but did not leave with the FedEx title. (He missed due to injury or not qualifying in three of the years.)

Had Rose won and Snedeker dropped into a tie for second for the tournament, then the FedEx scenarios would have been in full force. That would have put McIlroy atop the standings despite finishing 9 shots back in the tournament.

But Rose didn't make his first birdie until the 11th hole and his bogey at the 17th ended his hopes while Snedeker birdied the penultimate hole and all but ended the drama.

"He's mentally tough, Brandt," said Rose, who won at Doral earlier this year. "To do what he did today, I think next week [the Ryder Cup] is going to be pretty easy for him. There is a lot of pressure. Doesn't get any more pressure, I would say, than major championships and this. It's a different kind of pressure for playing for $10 million. It gets in your head more than other golf tournaments, where it's more routine.

"This week is 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."

It has been quite the ride over the past several weeks for Snedeker. He contended at the Open Championship before finishing third, then missed the cut at the PGA Championship with his Ryder Cup hopes teetering. Two strong playoff events at The Barclays and Deutsche Bank Championship got him a captain's pick and high up the FedEx points list.

Then Tucker Anderson, the college-age son of Snedecker's coach, Todd Anderson, was involved in a serious car accident that still has him in a responsive coma. Snedeker visited with Tucker Anderson for nearly 30 minutes on Sunday at the nearby hospital where he is rehabilitating, and that certainly offered up a healthy dose of perspective.

Snedeker said that while Anderson cannot talk, "he can wink and give you a fist pump."

That was a pretty healthy dose of motivation, as is the Ryder Cup coming up and the fact that his wife, Mandy, is at home expecting the couple's second child in about a month.

If Snedker is a bit dizzy from it all, well, all those zeroes at the end of that big check won't make it any easier. Snedeker came into the 2012 season with just more than $11 million in official prize money -- and matched it one day.

"It's a little crazy," he said. "You're start throwing around a number like $10 million -- it's like crazy talk. It's like winning the lottery. 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."

Bob Harig | email

Golf Writer, ESPN.com

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