ATLANTA (Reuters) - Tour Championship winner Brandt Snedeker and runner-up Justin Rose were among a host of players who delivered sparkling form in the final event of the PGA Tour’s regular season ahead of next week’s Ryder Cup.
With the triumphant Snedeker leading the way, nine members of the 12-man American team finished in the top 15 at East Lake Golf Club and Englishman Rose was one of three European players to follow suit.
The entire U.S. Ryder Cup team competed in the elite field of 30 at the Tour Championship while just five of the players who will represent Europe next week at Medinah Country Club outside Chicago took part.
“It’s been a real good ebb-and-flow between the American team and European team,” Rose told reporters after firing a one-over-par 71 in Sunday’s final round to finish three shots behind Snedeker.
”Obviously with Snedeker winning, the needle might be swinging in favor of the Americans. But I think it’s set up for a great week in Chicago. Two great teams, all in the top 40 in the world, something like that.
“It’s probably as strong as it’s ever been between the two teams. All 12 of their guys played this week, and only five of ours did. We’ll see how that plays out.”
Northern Irish world number one Rory McIlroy, who tied for 10th at the Tour Championship where he had been bidding for a third successive victory in the PGA Tour’s playoffs, was equally thrilled by the recent form of his peers.
“You look at how the Ryder Cup players have played over the past few weeks, and they’ve been at the top of the leaderboards. They’ve been winning, they’ve been contending, it’s great,” the 23-year-old smiled.
”I just hope that we’re all still as fresh for next week. It’s been a long run. I think everyone’s going to take the day off tomorrow, the ones that have played here, chill out and just get ready for the Ryder Cup because it’s a long week.
“Not just with the golf and how much golf you have to play, but all the commitments you have outside of that. It’s a draining week, and you’ve got to really conserve your energy.”
Snedeker is one of four rookies on the U.S. team that will host holders Europe at Medinah next week and he is expecting a fiery baptism in the emotional pressure cooker of the biennial team competition.
”I‘m not under any illusion of being calm next week,“ the American said after winning his fourth title on the PGA Tour. ”I know it’s going to be a very pressure-packed week.
”But I am going to use today as a huge thing to fall back on next week. I played against the best in the world this week for 72 holes and I beat them.
“Nothing’s going to happen next week that’s going to change that fact, so I‘m going to use it as confidence. I‘m playing the best golf of my career. And I look forward to getting up there next week and playing some even better golf.”
The 39th Ryder Cup will start on Friday.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Ian Ransom