The biggest surprise for American Brandt Snedeker on his way to victory in both the season-ending Tour Championship and the FedExCup playoff race on Sunday was his ability to flourish under intense pressure.
Not only was he vying with 29 of the games leading players for a chance to win a staggering bonus of $10 million at East Lake Golf Club but he did so amid several off-course distractions.
His wife Mandy is expecting their second child in a month and his father Larry was watching him play this week for only the second time since having a liver transplant last year. On top of that,Snedeker had spent 30 minutes earlier in the day visiting his swing coachs son who is in a responsive coma in an Atlanta hospital after being severely injured in a car accident.
Im a lot better under pressure than I gave myself credit for, Snedeker told reporters when asked what he had learned most about himself during his triumphant week at East Lake.
I was so calm the last nine holes,I couldnt believe it. Ive had a lot of pressure the last four weeks and a bunch of different stuff going on in my life. To be able to focus and do what I did was pretty impressive.
Remarkably,the potential of a massive playoff payday to the tune of $10 million was never a distraction for Snedeker who ensured his sole motivation was to win a golf tournament.
I was so worried about trying to beat Justin (Rose) to win the Tour Championship today, said the fast-talking American,who began the final round tied for the lead with Rose and ended it three strokes in front.
I was not thinking about the $10 million at all until the last hole,and I hit an awful shot there so that shows you what that does for you. It (the money) really hasnt crossed my mind yet to be honest with you,but its unbelievable. Its going to be an unbelievable thing to go through this process of being financially secure for a long period of time.
Snedeker,who also earned a winners cheque of $1.44 million at East Lake after making three birdies in the last six holes,said he would probably use a lot of the money to help less fortunate people in his home state of Tennessee.
Im not by any means a flashy guy, the 31-year-old said with a smile. Of anybody that I know,I do not need $11 million. There are going to be things we can do to really help people,so thats the way I look at it. I really think we can make a difference and help a lot of people out in Nashville,Tennessee and the surrounding areas,for sure.
Snedeker,who clinched his fourth PGA Tour title by closing with a two-under-par 68,had no doubt about the biggest impending change in his life.
Ive got another little boy on the way here in a month,and the most important thing in my life when I get home tonight will be to see my little girl in the morning and spend time with her before I go to the Ryder Cup, he said. So my life is about to change drastically,not because of this money but because Im going to have two kids for the first time in my life,which is going to be absolutely crazy in a month.
Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods,both of whom could have won the FedEx Cup with a victory Sunday,faded early and were never a factor.
Snedeker joins Woods (twice),Vijay Singh,Jim Furyk and Bill Haas as winners of the FedEx Cup in its six-year history.
McIlroy had won the last two playoff events and three of his last four tournaments dating to his eight-shot win in the PGA Championship. He still is virtually a lock to be voted PGA Tour player of the year,but he had to settle for second place in the FedEx Cup.
What are FEDEx CUP playoffs
Points won from all tournaments in a regular PGA Tour season,including the four majors,help golfers qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs,for which only the top 125 make the cut.
The Barclays is the first of three playoff events which culminate in the Tour Championship after which the player with most FedEx Cup points gets $10 million.
With every playoff event,the field is reduced,Deutsche Bank Championship (100),BMW Championship (70),and 30 compete in the Tour Championship.