Brandt Snedeker gave himself the opportunity in the FedEx Cup. He also has the company he expected.
Snedeker played one of his best rounds at the right time Saturday, making a collection of tough putts and relying on his short game to pick up a couple more birdies on his way to a 6-under 64 for a share of the lead with Justin Rose in the Tour Championship.
That means he now only has to win Sunday at East Lake to claim the FedEx Cup and its $10 million prize, the richest payoff in golf.
So does Rory McIlroy, who was three shots out.
Ditto for Tiger Woods, four shots behind.
The Tour Championship has never had so much at stake for so many top players.
“It’s going to be one of the most exciting Sundays of the year,” McIlroy said after a 68. “Great to be in the mix.”
McIlroy, who won the last two FedEx Cup playoff events, had his 11th consecutive round in the 60s. Woods salvaged an important par after his shot ricocheted off a Georgia pine and wound up with a 67.
Snedeker, McIlroy and Woods were among the top-five seeds coming into the Tour Championship, giving each the best shot at the $10 million because they only have to win the Tour Championship no matter what anyone else does at East Lake.
They won’t be the only players with a chance to win at least one trophy – the Tour Championship – on Sunday. Rose will be in the final group with Snedeker, and while it’s unlikely he can win the FedEx Cup, the Englishman surely would settle for his second win of the year against a strong field.
“I have the advantage of just playing the Tour Championship,” said Rose, who won a World Golf Championship at Doral in March. “The whole year, we’ve been grinding for the FedEx Cup, and it’s still possible. It’s not an easy golf course. Things can happen out there. But for me, it’s about one tournament.”
Snedeker and Rose were at 8-under 202.
Ryan Moore spoiled his round with a bogey on the 17th for a 65, putting him alone in third at 6 under.
Jim Furyk, the 36-hole leader, was tied for the lead until he pulled his tee shot into the water on the 17th, hit the next tee shot into the gallery, his fourth shot into a bunker and made triple bogey that sent him tumbling down to a 72.
The FedEx Cup is up for grabs in so many ways.
Woods, McIlroy and Snedeker could win it by finishing second, depending on how the others fare. There’s even one scenario in which Woods could finish alone in third and McIlroy could be alone in fourth, and they would be tied in the FedEx Cup and go to the par-3 18th to play off for the $10 million title.
All three of them are thinking more about trophies than mathematical equations.
“I’m playing for the `W,’ and tomorrow I get a great shot at it,” Woods said. “All the money and awards and all of that stuff, that comes along with winning championships. That’s the way I’ve always looked at it, and right now, I’m four back.”
Lewis is trying to complete an Alabama sweep after beating Thompson by a stroke in the Mobile Bay LPA Classic in late April.