Brandt Snedeker gave himself the opportunity he wanted in the FedEx Cup. He also has the company he expected.
Snedeker played one of his best rounds this year at just the right time Saturday, making a collection of tough putts and relying on his short game to pick up a couple of other birdies on his way to a 6-under-par 64 that gave him a share of the lead with Justin Rose at the Tour Championship in Atlanta.
That means he now only has to win today at East Lake to claim the FedEx Cup and its $10 million prize, the richest payoff in golf.
The same applies to Rory McIlroy, who was only three shots out of the lead.
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 past 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 on the way to a 67.
Snedeker, McIlroy and Woods were among the top five seeds going 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.
Rose will be in the final group with Snedeker, and while it’s unlikely he can win the FedEx Cup, the Englishman is searching for his second win of the year – he won a World Golf Championship event at Doral in March.
Snedeker and Rose were at 8-under 202.
“My first goal for this week is achieved,” Snedeker said. “And that is to have a chance going into Sunday. It should be a lot of fun.”
Puyallup’s Ryan Moore spoiled his round with a bogey on the 17th and still had a 65, putting him alone in third at 6 under. He will be paired with McIlroy tody.
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 a triple-bogey 7 that sent him tumbling to a 72. He was still in the mix at 205, along with McIlroy and Masters champion Bubba Watson, who had a double bogey on the 16th hole and shot 70.
Typical of the FedEx Cup playoffs, there was plenty of star power in contention, with 11 of the top 14 players on the leaderboard headed to the Ryder Cup next week.
Third-ranked Stacy Lewis shot a 7-under 65 to take a two-stroke lead at the Navistar LPGA Classic in Prattville, Ala., while second-round leader Lexi Thompson stumbled to a 2-over 74 to fall five shots behind. Lewis was at 15-under 201. … Tacoma’s Michael Putnam shot a 3-under 69 at the Web.com Tour’s WNB Classic in Midland, Texas. He was nine shot back of leader Danny Lee, who was at 16-under 200 after a 7-under third round. Olympia’s Andres Gonzales stumbled to a 5-over 77 and was 16 shots back.