Defending FedEx Cup champion Brandt Snedeker leads after the first round of the BMW Championship, shooting an 8-under 63 that included seven consecutive birdies in the middle of the round.
His first-round performance at Conway Farms is a far cry from the agonizing four-putt that locked him out of the FedEx Cup finale, the Tour Championship, in 2009.
On the 72nd hole at Cog Hill, all Snedeker -- the guy Steve Stricker called the best putter he's ever seen on Thursday -- had to do was two-putt for bogey to squeak into the Tour Championship at 30th place, the last available spot for the FedEx Cup finale.
Instead, Snedeker ran his first putt 3 feet by the hole, then rushed the comebacker and missed it. Then he missed a tap-in for a devastating four-putt. Snedeker closed with 5-over 76 and in a tie for 10th place.
Seemingly, he has never recovered in the BMW Championship. In his last 12 BMW Championship rounds, Snedeker has only shot in the 60s four times. He has gone T-37 twice and T-22 in the three years since that four-putt.
However, Snedeker has improved every year since 2010 in his final FedEx Cup position. He was 37th in 2010, eighth in 2011 and the winner last year. He'll become the first FedEx Cup champion to reach the Tour Championship in the year after raking in the $10 million prize.
That improvement has come because Snedeker has found a way to navigate the other FedEx Cup events well. He has six top-6 finishes in the 13 playoff events he's played since that 2009 choke.
Now he could be laughing all the way to the bank -- to cash a second $10 million FedEx Cup check. OK, it's direct deposited.