Brandt Snedeker, right, is congratulated by caddie Scott Vail after clinching… (Sam Greenwood / Getty Images )
ATLANTA — Brandt Snedeker caught his mind wandering to the FedEx Cup and its $10-million bonus just twice Sunday.
The first time, Snedeker nearly slapped himself back to reality as he walked down the 15th fairway. Then at No.18, he airmailed his tee shot into the grandstand.
"An awful shot," Snedeker said. "That shows you what that does for you."
At that point, though, it mattered little. A four-shot lead at the Tour Championship offered more than enough cushion to finish off his richest payday — and one that might redefine his career.
"When I play my best golf, my best golf is some of the best in the world," Snedeker said after a two-under-par 68 not only won the tournament but removed any number-crunching for the FedEx Cup points crown.
"I've never had more confidence in myself than I have the last five weeks, and I made sure I kept telling myself that all day."
Snedeker, 31, left no doubt he was best at East Lake Golf Club. After a Saturday 64 allowed him to enter Sunday with a share of the lead, he was the only man in the final five pairings to break par as gusty winds left many golfers flummoxed.
"Brandt really deserves to win," said Rory McIlroy, who finished second in the points table despite winning two of this year's four FedEx Cup playoff events. A Sunday 74 left him tied for 10th.
Snedeker entered the week at No.5 in points, the final spot for which a victory would wrap up the FedEx title without any outside help. Tied for the lead as late as the 15th fairway, two birdies on those final four holes opened the gap.
The clincher came with a chip-in at No.17 — after his drive caromed off a hospitality tent and a gust of wind knocked down his approach, just clearing a greenside bunker.
"Just unbelievable," Snedeker said. "I played great. I don't know where it came from, but I hope it comes out a little more in the future."
Snedeker completed four rounds in 10-under 270. After a bogey and double bogey in his first six holes Thursday, he played his final 66 holes in 13 under par.
The golfer also got a boost from a morning hospital visit. Tucker Anderson, the 18-year-old son of swing coach Todd Anderson, nearly died in an auto accident two weeks ago in Pensacola, Fla., and transferred this week to a facility in Atlanta.
"He really uplifted me," Snedeker said. "I was down there thinking the worst and he was awake and alert. I asked him if I could beat Rory McIlroy today and he gave me a wink. That was all I needed."
Snedeker entered the FedEx series at No.19 on the points list, then finished runner-up at The Barclays and sixth at the Deutsche Bank Championship. Critics will argue McIlroy was robbed of the crown, but the system encourages volatility.
"I'm not going to criticize the format," McIlroy said. "You've got to play well every week."
Said Snedeker: "Life is all about timing."
Ryan Moore used birdies at Nos. 13 and 14 to draw even with Snedeker, but bogeyed his final three holes for a 70 that left him tied for third. Justin Rose was runner-up after a 71, followed by Moore and Luke Donald (67).
Tiger Woods, who began the week second in points behind McIlroy, closed with a 72 that left him eight shots behind Snedeker on the East Lake leaderboard and third in FedEx Cup points.
"I just didn't have it this weekend," Woods said. "I wasn't sharp. On this golf course, you have to hit it in the fairway. This Bermuda rough, you don't know what it's going to do."