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Ryder Cup: Everything set up for ‘great week’ at Medinah

Brandt Snedeker’s victory Sunday Tour Championship was worth nearly $11.5 million. | David Goldman~AP

Brandt Snedeker’s victory Sunday in the Tour Championship was worth nearly $11.5 million. | David Goldman~AP

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Updated: October 25, 2012 6:24AM

Brandt Snedeker joined the PGA Tour in 2007 and entered play Sunday with career earnings of $16 million.

After shooting a 2-under-par 68 on Sunday at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Snedeker secured $1.44 million for winning the Tour Championship and
$10 million for claiming the FedEx Cup.

Still, Snedeker said he expects the Ryder Cup this week at Medinah Country Club to be even more stressful for him.

‘‘I’m not under any illusion of being calm next week,’’ Snedeker said shortly after his two-stroke victory over Justin Rose. ‘‘I know it’s going to be a very pressure-packed week.’’

Starting Monday, Chicago will become the epicenter of golf as the sport prepares for what many think will be its greatest event ever. For the first time in Ryder Cup history, the combined 24 players who will represent Team USA and Team Europe all are ranked among the top 35 in the world.

‘‘I think it’s set up for a great week in Chicago,’’ said Rose, a Team Europe member from England. ‘‘I looked at the long-range weather forecast, and it looks like it’s going to be perfect. Two great teams . . . so it’s probably as strong as it’s ever been.’’

There are some hot U.S. players, but Davis Love III wisely used one of his four captain’s picks this month on Snedeker.

Team USA clearly is riding the momentum into Medinah after seven of its players finished among the top 14 in the Tour Championship.

‘‘I think it’s been a real good ebb and flow between the American team and European team,’’ Rose said. ‘‘Obviously, [with] Snedeker winning, the needle might be swinging in favor of the Americans.’’

Before Snedeker’s victory, though, Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland was the hottest golfer in the world, rising to
No. 1 in the rankings and winning three of his previous four tournaments, including a rout at the PGA Championship in August. But the game is fickle and maddening, and McIlroy sounded like a young man in need of a pep talk after shooting 4-over Sunday to finish tied for 10th in the Tour Championship.

‘‘I made it tough for myself, just didn’t hit fairways,’’ McIlroy said. ‘‘I hit three fairways all day, so that was the story of my day.’’

U.S. veteran Jim Furyk recently suggested McIlroy was a ‘‘marked man,’’ given his strong season. But for all the encouraging performances Sunday from U.S. side, Furyk and his teammates must face this reality: None of them has a winning record in the Ryder Cup, and Team Europe has won the biennial competition six of the last eight times.

Interestingly, the only player who can claim a home-course advantage is on Team Europe. Luke Donald of England starred at Northwestern, maintains a residence in Evanston and trains often with Wildcats coach Pat Goss.

Asked about the Ryder Cup after finishing tied for third Sunday at East Lake, Donald said: ‘‘I am looking forward to it. Obviously it’s the Ryder Cup, and some of my best moments in golf have been during that event. And obviously being in Chicago, the place I’ve lived for the last 15 years, it will be pretty special to just drive down the road and play.’’

The players will try to unwind Monday as they fly in private jets to Chicago. It will be a brief calm before the eventual storm.

‘‘It will be nice to shut it down and gear up again because we’ve got a long, long week ahead of us,’’ said U.S. star Tiger Woods, who finished tied for eighth at the Tour Championship. ‘‘We’re all going to need our energy and get our rest when we can.’’

The stars have aligned, and it appears as though the event will be a rare one that doesn’t disappoint, regardless of what happens.

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