ATLANTA — Brandt Snedeker played the biggest round of his career for the biggest payoff in golf.
Needing to win the Tour Championship on Sunday to beat out Rory McIlroy for the FedEx Cup, Snedeker came up with three big birdies on the back nine at East Lake to take all the drama out the final day that had been loaded with possibilities.
Snedeker hit his final tee shot into the grandstand left of the 18th green and made bogey. By then, it didn’t matter. So dominant was his performance that he was the only player from the last five groups who managed to break par, closing with a 2-under 68.
Along the way, he answered any questions about why Davis Love made him a captain’s pick for the Ryder Cup next week at Medinah.
Snedeker won by three shots over Justin Rose (71), his second title of the year, and collected $1.44 million. And he won the $10 million bonus for capturing the FedEx Cup, which comes with a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour.
McIlroy and Tiger Woods, both of whom could have won the FedEx Cup with a victory, were never a factor.
Snedeker joins Woods (twice), Vijay Singh, Jim Furyk, and Bill Haas as winners of the Cup in its six-year history.
McIlroy had won the last two playoff events and three of his last four tournaments dating to his eight-shot win in the PGA Championship. He still is a lock as PGA Tour player of the year, but he had to settle for second place in the FedEx Cup.
‘‘I knew what I needed to do,’’ McIlroy said. ‘‘I needed to win. Brandt knew what he needed to do. And he played fantastic. He really deserved it.’’
It was an emotional week in so many ways for Snedeker, already a high-strung personality. His father, Larry, flew in to watch final round at East Lake, only the second tournament he has attended since having a liver transplant last year.
Snedeker beat everybody at East Lake in a convincing fashion. After taking a double bogey on the par-3 sixth when he hit his tee shot into the water, Snedeker responded with a 40-foot birdie putt on the eighth, an 18-foot birdie putt on No. 13, and chipping in from short of the 17th green to end all doubt.
‘‘I had complete confidence in what I was doing,’’ Snedeker said.
He finished 10-under 270 and will move into the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time in his career.
Ryan Moore (70) made the strongest run at Snedeker on the back nine, and with an up-and-down behind the par-5 15th green for back-to-back birdies, he was tied for the lead. But he bogeyed the final three holes to fall out of contention.
Woods, who started four shots behind, left the picture early. He missed the first fairway with a 3-wood and made bogey, hit into the water on the par-3 sixth hole, and was never a factor the rest of the way. He birdied the last hole for a 72 and finished eight shots behind in a tie for eighth.
‘‘I just didn’t have it this weekend,’’ Woods said.
McIlroy also came undone early. He had 11 consecutive rounds in the 60s during the playoff, but with a strong breeze and a fierce course, that was bound to end. He sped the process along by getting caught up in the rough on No. 4 for bogey, hitting into the water on the sixth for double bogey, and driving into a bunker on the next hole for yet another bogey.