Snedeker makes a push for FedEx Cup championship
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 in Atlanta, 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 64 that gave him a share of the lead with Justin Rose in the Tour Championship.
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That means he now only has to win Sunday at East Lake to claim the FedEx Cup and its $10 million prize, the richest payoff in golf.
So does 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 last two FedEx Cup playoff events, had his 11th consecutive round in the 60s. Woods salvaged an important par on the 16th hole after one of his shots ricocheted off a Georgia pine and wound up with a 67.
Rose will be in the final group with Snedeker, and while it's unlikely he can win the FedEx Cup, the Englishman surely would settle for his second win of the year against a strong field.
"I have the advantage of just playing the Tour Championship," said Rose, who won a World Golf Championship at Doral in March. "The whole year, we've been grinding for the FedEx Cup, and it's still possible. It's not an easy golf course. Things can happen out there. But for me, it's about one tournament."
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 triple bogey that sent him tumbling down 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.
East Lake demanded a crisp game as the wind rustled pine branches and the greens became firm.
"It was so tough today," Snedeker said. "The wind made it so hard to hit the fairways here because the wind seemed like it would move the ball 4 or 5 yards one way or the other, and these fairways might be 15 yards wide. Just every iron shot has to be hit so crisply to control your distances, and I did a great job of that today."
■ Third-ranked Stacy Lewis shot a 7-under 65 to take a two-stroke lead over Angela Stanford in the Navistar LPGA Classic, while second-round leader Lexi Thompson fell five shots behind in Prattville, Ala. Lewis is trying to complete an Alabama sweep after beating Thompson by a stroke in the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic in late April.
Lewis birdied four of the first five holes in her bogey-free round.
"I think going into today I knew I needed to make birdies just the way the scores had been all day, and you don't know if you're ever going to start off like that," Lewis said. "You can kind of hit it good warming up, but you never really know what you're going to take to the course."
Handsome Mike surprise winner in Pa.
Long shot Handsome Mike won the $1 million, Grade II Pennsylvania Derby, and My Miss Aurelia took the $1 million Cotillion Stakes on Saturday at Parx Racing in Bensalem, Pa.
Ridden by Irad Oriz Jr., Handsome Mike beat West Virginia Derby winner Macho Macho by 2 lengths in the race for 3-year-olds, running 11⁄8 miles in 1:513⁄5 for his second career victory.
In the Cotillion, My Miss Aurelia remained undefeated in six career starts, beating Questing by a head.
Ridden by Cory Nakatani, My Miss Aurelia — the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner last year, ran 11⁄16 miles in 1:442⁄5.
Nakatani said the race went as he and trainer Steve Asmussen planned.
■ Dust and Diamonds earned a spot in the Breeders' Cup with a 11/4-length victory over Judy the Beauty in the $200,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap for fillies and mares at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.
The Gallant Bloom was a "Win and You're In" challenge stakes, guaranteeing the winner a berth in the $1 million Filly & Mare Sprint on Nov. 3 at Santa Anita.
Dust and Diamonds, a 4-year-old trained by Steve Asmussen, extended her winning streak to three with the biggest triumph of her career. Never worse than second, Dust and Diamonds and jockey Julien Leparoux took charge in midstretch from the pacesetting Roman Treasure and held off a late charge from Judy the Beauty.
■ Multiple Grade I winner The Factor was retired from racing and will enter stud at William S. Farish's Lane's End Farm for the 2013 breeding season. The Factor won six races, five of them graded, including the Grade I Malibu Stakes and Grade I Pat O'Brien Stakes.
Stewart jokes about his job security
Tony Stewart, who won in New Hampshire last September, got off to an awkward start in practice this weekend when he spun his tires heading onto the track.
"I just got on it too much, and with the track being cold like that I just spun," he said. "I didn't spin all the way out, but it's bad enough I had to go through the grass. I told them, 'I didn't think I would run out of talent in the first five seconds of the session.'"
Stewart went on to qualify third for Sunday's race, behind pole-sitter Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch, giving him a good chance for another victory at the track. He has three wins there and 14 top-five finishes in 27 starts, so he doesn't have to worry about being replaced after the minor mishap.
"Not yet," said Stewart, also the team co-owner. "Well, I don't know. They were having a meeting a minute ago. If they start changing the seat, I will know."
Williams rolls perfect game, 724 series
Brian Williams rolled a 300 game on Sept. 17 at Collins Bowling Centers-Southland in the James R. Wafford Memorial League. The perfect game, the fourth of the season in Lexington leagues, highlighted a 724 series.
■ The Lexington USBC will hold its Hall of Fame luncheon and induction ceremony at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, at the Clarion Hotel on Newtown Pike. Tickets are $20 and are available from any Lexington USBC officer or director. This year's inductees are Nancy Hohensee, Kenny Stephens and Julie Whitaker.
Macumber 1st for women's cross country
Junior Cally Macumber's first-place finish helped Kentucky's women's cross country team take second overall to Virginia in the Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational in Earlysville, Va.. UK's men's team wound up seventh. Macumber crossed the finish line in 17:29.13, more than five seconds ahead of Virginia's Catherine White. Oklahoma won the men's title.
■ Kentucky's men's soccer team (4-4-0) got a first-half goal from Tyler Riggs and a second-half score from Matt Lodge in a 2-0 victory at Evansville.
The last word
Hey, Philadelphia Eagles fans. You have to root for Dallas now. No, not the hated Dallas Cowboys. The team's new starting center is Dallas Reynolds. Reynolds said he remembers going to training camp on his first day with the Eagles in 2009 and seeing a sign that read: "Dallas Sucks!":
"At first, I was like, 'Man, first day, really?' But it's cool now. I get it."