Brandt Snedeker began the week inside the “fantastic five” and finished the weekend on top as the victor at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola and the $10 million winner of the FedExCup Playoffs. Snedeker coasted home with birdies in three of his last six holes to defeat Englishman Justin Rose by three shots. Englishman Luke Donald and American Ryan Moore were one further shot back in joint third. Americans Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson shared fifth place, five shot behind at East Lake Golf Club outside of Atlanta. Snedeker posted 10-under-par 270 in his victory.
Snedeker entered the week No. 5 on the list of five players who had the chance to win the Playoffs with a victory at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. All the talk was about the impending showdown between the “old” king, Tiger Woods and the “king-in-waiting”, Rory McIlroy. Heck, even Phil Mickelson found his game in the last two events, adding a third-wheel to an already compelling story in the world of golf. Nick Watney rounded out the quintet as the winner of the first Playoff event, the Barclays. As Thursday approached, it was all but certain that McIlroy and Woods would fight it out on Sunday for the crown, the Playoffs and the $10 million. Somebody forgot to tell Snedeker that.
Snedeker, who was flying under the radar after his T37 at the BMW two weeks ago, became the first player to win the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola by posting double-digits under par since the bermudagrass greens were laid in 2008. Snedeker was spectacularly consistent this week as he poured in 20 birdies (No. 1 this week), six bogeys (No. 1) and double-bogeyed hole No. 6 on Thursday and Sunday and still won the golf tournament. Snedeker is known for his exceptional putting and this week wasn’t any different as he was No.1 in strokes gained putting (same as his ranking on TOUR), second in putts per round and third in putts per GIR. He ranked second in fairways which led to a T7 finish in GIR so his game was clicking at exactly the right time. Snedeker shared the third round lead with runner-up Justin Rose after firing a bogey-free 64 on Saturday to jump into the $10 million question for Sunday. Snedeker finished the week with all four rounds at par or better and only made one bogey and one double on the weekend to win for the fourth time in his career and the second time (FIO) this season. This was also Snedeker’s fourth podium appearance of 2012.
Déjà vu All Over Again?
Brandt Snedeker and Justin Rose started the day tied for first and finished the day first and second so I’ll call it a wash this week. In 40 weeks of stroke play tournaments, 26 third round leaders failed to lift the trophy in 2012.
Americans now have registered 30 victories in 41 events. Brandt Snedeker (FIO, the TOUR Championship), joins Rory McIlroy (4), Tiger Woods (3), Zach Johnson (2), Jason Dufner (2) and Hunter Mahan (2) as the only multiple-winners in 2012. The only foreign-born players to win in 2012 are Rory McIlroy (Honda, PGA, DBC and BMW), Justin Rose (WGC-CC), Luke Donald (Transitions), Carl Pettersson (RBC Heritage), Marc Leishman (the Travelers), South African Ernie Els (The Open) and Spain’s Sergio Garcia (Wyndham).
Snedeker adds this title to his 2007 Wyndham Championship, 2011 Heritage and 2012 Farmers Insurance Open.
Snedeker joins Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Jim Furyk and Bill Haas as FedExCup Champions since the inception of the playoffs in 2007.
With this victory, Snedeker collects $1,440,000, 2500 FedExCup Points and $10 million. So if you’re scoring at home, that’s $11,440,000 for his troubles this week!
“Young” Guns versus “Middle” Guns versus “Old” Guns
In 41 events on TOUR in 2012 the “Young” continue to increase the lead thanks to victories in the past weeks by Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Nick Watney and now Snedeker. The “Young” guns have locked it up at the top as they now lead 22-16-3.
For the “Young”, age during their victory in ( ), Johnson Wagner (31), Brandt Snedeker TWICE (31), Kyle Stanley (24), Bill Haas (29), John Huh (21), Hunter Mahan TWICE (29) Rory McIlroy FOUR times (22), Justin Rose (31), Rickie Fowler (23), Dustin Johnson (27), Webb Simpson (26), Marc Leishman (29), Ted Potter, Jr. (28), Scott Stallings (27), Keegan Bradley (26), Sergio Garcia (32) and Nick Watney (32) are your winners.
The “Middle” guys are Mark Wilson (37), George McNeill (36), Luke Donald (34), Tiger Woods THRICE (36), Bubba Watson (33), Carl Pettersson (34), Ben Curtis (34), Matt Kuchar (33), Jason Dufner TWICE (35), Zach Johnson TWICE (36), Scott Piercy (33) and J.J. Henry (37) have been victorious.
Steve Stricker (44), Phil Mickelson (41) and Ernie Els (42) are the only “Old” guys to hit the board in 2012. At least 33% of their wins are majors! Jim Furyk’s solo seventh was the best finish this week for the “old” boys.
Final FedExCup Playoff ranking in parentheses
Justin Rose (6): Rose said during the week that he’s been hitting the ball great all season and he just wasn’t scoring. His T7 GIR this week was very solid and his putting led to 15 birdies. The Englishman would have finished higher if not for his T46, MC and T16 in the first three events. When ball-striking is a premium, Rose has to be on your list. At watch out once he finds a putter that he likes!
Luke Donald (9): Donald was never going to match 2011 where he led the TOUR and the European Tour in winnings but he fought to another podium finish in 2012. Donald finishes the Playoffs with two top 10’s as he heads home to Chicago and the Ryder Cup. Donald has now finished T3, second and T3 in his last three starts at East Lake. Horse for course.
Ryan Moore (11): Moore completed a fantastic playoff run with a T3 finish this week. His Playoffs were in jeopardy on 18 tee two weeks ago at Crooked Stick but his birdie on the 72nd hole cashed his ticket for East Lake. Moore took advantage and was tied for the lead with three holes to play before he finished with three straight bogeys. Moore’s solid driving and steady putting saw him improve each week of the Playoffs as he finished T24, T10, T10 and T3 this week. Moore has played East Lake twice and finished T9 in 2010 and T3 this year. He likes this course as well!
Bubba Watson (13): Watson continued his amazing streak of making the top 25 in every event he made the cut in 2012. Calm down. I know there were only 30 players in the field this week, but they were the 30 best the TOUR had to offer and Watson banged another top 10, T5, for his seventh of 2012. The Masters champ finished T10, MC, T12 and T5. His MC at DBC kept him from having a better shot the $10 million. Gamers, remember this was a course the Watson admitted to NOT liking this week. This was his first top 10 in four tries at East Lake.
Webb Simpson (16): This was Simpson’s first top 10 in seven events (The Greenbrier). After his 22nd place finish last season at East Lake, Simpson backed that up with T5 this year. He does nothing outstanding except cashing checks. He’s live every week he’s entered and his wife is NOT giving birth or is late in her pregnancy.
Jim Furyk (15): Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Furyk was leading on the weekend and then didn’t make it across the finish line. After making nine birdies on Friday to fire 64, Furyk made exactly one more the rest of the weekend to finish solo seventh. He was tied for the lead on Saturday on 17 tee when his tee shot found the water. He never recovered. After MC at the Barclays, Furyk closed with T13, ninth and seventh. It was definitely a season of “what-ifs” for Furyk, but once again he showed Atlanta to be his playground with his fourth-consecutive top seven finish in the last five years. He did not start last year. Automatic pick on this course.
Hunter Mahan (19): I opined last week that Mahan was struggling and that golf fans wanted to see him splitting fairways and making birdies sooner than later. Mahan obviously read my column and decided it was time to get his game back in order. He led the field in GIR and had the low round of the day on Sunday with 66 to jump from T20 to T8. This was his first top 10 since his T8 at AT&T National on July 1. This is Mahan’s sixth trip to East Lake and the third time he’s hit the top 10.
Tiger Woods (3): Another chance to regain dominance on TOUR passed Woods by as he finished T8. Nine top 10’s. Three wins, a second and two thirds in 2012.
Dustin Johnson (8): Johnson finally hit the top 10 in his fourth start at East Lake. His previous best finish was T22 in 2010. Johnson finished eight on the FedExCup Playoff standings even though he missed two-and-a-half months in the spring due to injury. His Playoff run was excellent as he finished T3, T4, T6 and T10 this week. Long, short, wet, dry or whatever the course set up, Johnson is legit.
Matt Kuchar (18): The Georgia Tech grad also hit the top 10 for the first time in three events at East Lake with his T10 finish. Kuchar hit the top 10 for the first time in last six events and has been an afterthought in these playoffs. His putter carried him through this weekend as he was T24 GIR.
Robert Garrigus (23): Another last minute entrant this week after his T4 at Crooked Stick, Garrigus took advantage of his good play at the top 10 again this week at T10. Garrigus is known to bomb it and pepper GIR and he did that this week as he was sixth in driving distance and second in GIR. In his last eight starts, Garrigus has found himself in the top 10 in half of those. Sunday’s 73 broke up a streak of seven straight rounds in the 60’s.
Bo Van Pelt (22): Another week, another top 10 as Van Pelt hits the top 10 for the 10th time in 2012. Van Pelt did it the hard way on Sunday as he made three double bogeys in firing 73. His putter saved his bacon this week as he was T24 in driving accuracy and T26 in GIR. In his last seven events, including the FedExCup Playoffs and WGC-BI, his worst finish is T26. This was his third consecutive TOUR Championship and his second consecutive top 10.
Rory McIlroy (2): He began the week as No. 1 and will end it at No. 2 even though he hit the top 10 (T10). It’s hard to wrap my head around how McIlroy didn’t win the Playoffs even though he won half of the events. Ok, fine, gotta win the last one, sure but that’s still weird. McIlroy has proven to me that he’s the 2012 player of the year even though he didn’t win the FedExCup Playoffs or the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. Remember, if anyone besides Snedeker or Woods would have won today, we’d be talking about McIlroy as the Playoff champion.
“And another thing…”
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