That bit of philosophical wisdom came from the mouth of golf’s newest mega-millionaire, a fidgety, long-haired Vanderbilt graduate named Brandt Snedeker who defied all expectations and not only held onto his third-round lead Sunday at the Tour Championship, but actually extended it.
When Snedeker holed the final putt for a 2-under-par 68 and a three-shot win at East Lake Golf Club, he was the FedEx Cup champion, a prize worth $10 million. Throw in the $1.44 million that came with winning the tournament and Snedeker joined last year’s winner Bill Haas as the game’s latest accidental mogul.
“It’s crazy,” said Snedeker, who moved into the top 10 in the world for the first time. “You 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. I really don’t know what to expect. I never thought about having this much money before.”
No one else thought about Snedeker having that much money, either. Coming into the week, he was almost an afterthought, the fifth-ranked player in the FedEx Cup standings behind Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Nick Watney and Phil Mickelson, all accomplished closers who had been in this position before.
McIlroy, who was in the No. 1 spot in the standings at the beginning of the week, had two playoff wins. He teed off on Sunday tied for fourth. Everyone expected the final round to be a coronation: the No.1 player in the world nabbing golf’s richest prize.
But something unexpected happened. McIlroy, who had won three of his past four tournaments, shot 74 and had to settle for second. Woods shot 72 and tied for eighth.
Snedeker, meanwhile, was the only player in the last five groups to break par. Long considered one of the best putters in the game, Snedeker made every crucial putt. Every single one. If it had to go in, he drained it.
“His putting is what Brandt lives and dies by,” said Justin Rose, who finished second while playing alongside Snedeker on Sunday and watched as the unheralded American got up and down from impossible spots and drained bombs from places where most players would have been trying not to three-putt.
“His putts were always right there or somewhere thereabouts,” Rose said. “He’s one of the best putters in the world.”
That is the reason Davis Love III used one of his four Ryder Cup captain’s picks on Snedeker, a pick that garnered criticism as players like Hunter Mahan had more wins and more Ryder Cup experience.
Now Davis looks like a genius.
“It solidifies what I already know,” Snedeker said when asked what this win does to identify him as a player. “I think when I play my best golf, my best golf is some of the best in the world.”
That theory will be tested at Medinah this week in the Ryder Cup, where the pressure will be magnified exponentially. He got a small taste of it late on Sunday when chants of “U-S-A” echoed through the Georgia pines.
“I’m going to use today as a huge thing to fall back on next week,” Snedeker said. “I know it’s going to be a pressure-packed week. But I played against the best in the world this week for 72 holes. And I beat them.”
By sundown on Sunday at the home course of Bobby Jones, another quote came to mind, one of many Jones made in his life.
“A good putter is a match for any man,” Jones once said.
Snedeker proved that with an $11.44 million exclamation point.