GREENSBORO, N.C. - Tied with two holes to play and seemingly headed for a playoff, Brandt Snedeker needed to make something bold happen. He made the best shot of his short career.
Snedeker's 3-iron to within 32 feet on the par-3 17th set up a birdie putt that moved him ahead of Tim Petrovic for good, and the rookie finished with a 9-under 63 on Sunday for his first career PGA Tour win, a two-stroke victory at the low-scoring Wyndham Championship.
"I knew I was going to have to birdie one of the last two to give myself a chance," Snedeker said. "The way the scores were going, everybody was getting birdies everywhere."
Snedeker, a 26-year-old Tennessee native and former Vanderbilt player, had the best round of the tournament. He finished at 22-under 266, earned $900,000 - and, perhaps most importantly, jumped 17 spots to No. 9 on the FedEx Cup points list.
"Everything the tour has been telling us, you have a legitimate chance to win the FedEx Cup, (but) you've got to be inside the Top 15," Snedeker said. "That's why I came here - I wanted to get in the Top 15 and give myself a chance.... I know my game can leave me tomorrow and I can have the shanks. I wanted to go as high as I could."
Petrovic (67) - who was tied with Snedeker with two holes to play - joined Jeff Overton (70) and Billy Mayfair (67) two strokes back.
Carl Pettersson (68) - a North Carolina resident and a member of the tournament's board - finished three strokes behind Snedeker, who joined Shigeki Maruyama (2003) and K.J. Choi (2005) as recent winners at 22 under at a Forest Oaks Country Club course dominated all week by high temperatures and low scores.
Snedeker and Petrovic were tied at 21 heading into the final two holes, and a playoff seemed a real possibility until Snedeker made his move on the par-3 17th.
He hit his 3-iron 32 feet from the flagstick - a shot that "under the pressure, probably was the best swing of my life," he said - to set up the clutch birdie putt.
Petrovic, playing two groups behind him, landed his tee shot on the green about 70 feet from the hole but missed his birdie attempt and tapped in from about 2 feet for par.
"I knew what I had to do. Everybody was out here making birdies today, so I wasn't mad, I wasn't shocked," Petrovic said. "I was just kind of ready to go and do my own thing."
Snedeker then closed his round with an uneventful par on No. 18, while Petrovic sent his drive into the woods on the left side of the fairway and wound up finishing with a bogey.
"A guy shoots 63, you've got to take your hat off to him - he won it, I didn't lose it," Petrovic said.
Though he was denied his second career victory and first since 2005 when he won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, he did stand to move up 42 spots to No. 82 in the FedEx Cup standings and ensuring himself of making the field for The Barclays this week and next week's Deutsche Bank Championship.
"At least I'm guaranteed the first two," Petrovic said. "I just kind of had an off year, and I saw signs of life, my game starting to get a little better."
Snedeker was at 18 under before a late run of three consecutive birdies thrust him up the leaderboard. He capped the string with one on the par-5 15th.
His previous best finish on the tour came in January when he was third at 12-under in the Buick Invitational after shooting a career-best 61 in the first round.
Overton - the 24-year-old former Indiana player who led after the second and third rounds and entered with a three-stroke lead - fell off the pace after early trouble and was briefly overtaken before he rejoined the pack with a 44-foot birdie putt on the par-4 11th.
Still, he used a strong week to play himself into the FedEx Cup. Overton came to Greensboro at No. 165 on the points list - only the top 144 qualify for the first postseason tournament - but picked up 1,867 points and jumped to 109th.
It didn't work out as well for some of the bubble players desperate for points to make the playoffs. Eric Axley, who at No. 145 (1,566 points) gained 174 more for his tie for 27th this week, but fell 22 points shy of 144th-ranked Jeff Gove.
Others on the bubble who failed to qualify: No. 146 Lee Janzen, No. 147 Glen Day and No. 148 Marco Dawson, who each came to Greensboro in the Top 144 but missed the cut and dropped four spots to fall from the field.