Rory McIlroy believes it may take a closing 65 or even a 64 to win the Tour Championship and the $10m FedEx Cup.
McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Brandt Snedeker and Nick Watney came into the final week of the FedEx Cup play-offs knowing the staggering payout would be theirs if they won the Tour Championship.
And it was Snedeker who emerged as the most likely to do so on Saturday with a third round of 64 to share the lead on eight under par with England’s Justin Rose.
American Ryan Moore (65) was alone in third on six under with McIlroy sharing fourth place on five under with Bubba Watson and Jim Furyk after a 68 that was his 11th successive sub-70 score.
But the 23-year-old world number one knows he could need to go far lower on Sunday to win the tournament and the FedEx Cup.
After finishng by holing an eight footer for a sand save par-three at the last - fist-pump included - he said: “I think if I shoot 65, 64, I’ll have a good chance. If I get it to 10‑under par, I think that could be a good target.”
His short game has been excellent all week yet he’s not sure if Saturday night’s par-save on the 18th prove crucial: “It depends on how I play tomorrow. I wanted to make it because I didn’t want to give a shot away right at the end.”
Woods is four off the lead on four under after a 67, with Luke Donald a shot further back after matching that score largely thanks to holing his second shot to the 14th for an eagle two.
Snedeker had gone into the tournament aiming to be in contention to win on the final day.
He told the PGA Tour website: “My first goal for this week is achieved, and that is to have a chance going into Sunday.
“I think something like 90% of the PGA Tour winners come from the last two groups, and that’s where I want to be - in those last two groups.
“So I now get I get a chance to do that tomorrow, and it should be a lot of fun.”
Rose praised Snedeker for recovering from a slow start to the tournament.
“I know he got off to a rough start on Thursday, and to climb back and tie for the lead being in that sort of vital top five is a wonderful performance,” the Englishman said
“So he’s going to be the one out of the two of us thinking about it overnight.”
Rose plans to just focus on the Tour Championship win rather than worry about the FedEx Cup.
He said: “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.
“I wish I would be in the situation that Brandt’s in. I would trade him, but obviously, that’s the position I’m in.”