MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Lucas Glover’s experiences have spanned the spectrum in his two decades as a professional. He’s withstood the Sunday pressure to win a major championship and been filled with fear while standing over the simplest of shots.
But now, at 43, Glover may be playing the best golf of his career, thanks in large part to a new putter that fixed the ailment that had afflicted him for a decade. Three consecutive finishes of sixth or better preceded Glover’s win at last week’s Wyndham Championship.
He carried his strong play into the opening event of the FedExCup Playoffs, and now takes a one-stroke lead into the final round of the FedEx St. Jude Championship. A win would give Glover the first multiple-win season of his career and more wins in his 40s (3) than in his 20s (2), a surprising statistic considering the impressive resume he compiled while at Clemson.
The secret to Glover’s longevity? A steady demeanor that isn’t impacted greatly by the game’s unpredictability.
“It’s never as good as it seems and it’s never as bad as it seems,” he said. That philosophy paid off Saturday, with a round that was a microcosm of all that golf offers. A hot start gave Glover the opportunity to run away from the field, while two short misses on the final holes leave him with the smallest of advantages entering Sunday.
Glover is 14-under par after shooting 66 on Saturday at TPC Southwind. He will start the final round with a one-shot lead over Taylor Moore, winner of this year’s Valspar Championship, and two ahead of Tommy Fleetwood. Several of the game’s biggest names are still within reach, as well.
Max Homa and Jordan Spieth are three back, while Rory McIlroy, Viktor Hovland, Patrick Cantlay, Tom Kim, Sungjae Im and Emiliano Grillo are within five. They’re facing one of the most penal courses on TOUR, one that’s known for having the most balls hit in the water since ShotLink stats debuted 20 years ago.
It’s a layout that can lead to a wide variety of scores but also one that plays to Glover’s strengths, rewarding strong ballstrikers who can keep their ball safe and dry. He finished third here a year ago and arrived this week as arguably the hottest player on TOUR. He’s projected to move to third in the FedExCup with a win Sunday.
“I’m old enough to know it can change the over way in a hurry, too,” he said earlier this week, “so kind of ride the wave and just don’t overthink it.”
Glover chipped in on his first hole Saturday, then made putts from outside 15 feet on Nos. 2 and 4. He was just 1 under par the rest of the day, however, missing a 4-foot birdie putt on 16 and 6-footer for birdie on the final hole.
“Three months ago if you’d told me I’d be mad at 66, I’d say you were crazy,” he said after the round. Glover was sitting around 180th in the FedExCup back in May and desperate for answers. In his first 18 starts of the season, he missed half his cuts and didn’t finish better than T36.
Glover, long known for his accurate iron play, had struggled with the yips for the past decade. He leads the TOUR this season in average approach-shot proximity to the hole but couldn’t convert on the birdie opportunities.
“Anybody who’s ever listened to him hit a golf ball knows he’s different,” said Homa.
It was the week of the PGA Championship when Glover, who was not in the field, knew he needed to make a change. He was going to try the long putter at the behest of Brad Faxon, the eight-time TOUR winner who now moonlights as a part-time putting coach. If that didn’t work, putting left-handed was Glover’s last resort.
“Nothing I did worked, nothing I practiced worked,” he said. “Brain was just fried.”
Glover debuted the putter, which was built to the same specifications as Adam Scott’s, at the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday. Gone was that “crazy, awful, yippy stroke,” he said. That was enough for the putter to earn its spot in the bag.
Success quickly followed. He finished T20 at the RBC Canadian Open in June, his first top-25 finish of the season. He missed the cut in his next start but then rolled off three consecutive finishes of sixth or better.
Then he won the Wyndham Championship. His struggles had been so severe that even with the strong finish to the Regular Season, he arrived at the Wyndham ranked 112th in the FedExCup, well outside the cutoff to qualify for the Playoffs. He jumped to 49th in the standings after last week’s win but still was not ensured of a spot in next week’s BMW Championship. The top 50 in the FedExCup standings after Sunday will qualify for next week’s second Playoffs stop at Olympia Fields Country Club outside Chicago.
Another win Sunday not only would put Glover in contention to win the FedExCup, but it would also strengthen his 11th-hour Ryder Cup candidacy. He has only represented the United States in one international team competition as a professional, playing in the 2009 Presidents Cup after winning that year’s U.S. Open (he also played in the 2001 Walker Cup as an amateur).
“He’s a new man with that new putter,” said McIlroy. Another win Sunday would serve as further proof.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Sloppy mud one day, broiling heat the next. Lucas Glover is playing his best golf no the matter the conditions on the ground or in the air, posting a 6-under 64 on Friday for a one-shot lead over Jordan Spieth in the FedEx St. Jude Championship.
Glover holed three putts longer than 25 feet, one of them for eagle on the par-5 16th, and has made only one bogey through 36 holes going into the weekend of the PGA Tour’s postseason opener at TPC Southwind.
It was the 19th time in his last 20 rounds Glover has shot in the 60s. A week ago, he was No. 112 in the FedEx Cup and looking at a month off. Now he’s moving closer to making it all the way to the Tour Championship.
“I’m old enough to know it can change the other way in a hurry, too,” the 43-year-old Glover said. “So kind of ride the wave and just don’t overthink it. Keep going and play until it runs out, and then figure it out after that.”
Glover was at 10-under 130.
For all of them, the biggest issue was the hot sun and Southern humidity, a combination that had the heat index just short of 120 degrees Fahrenheit (48 Celsius).
Eric Larson, the caddie for Harris English, had to stop after 10 holes. He stooped to tie his shoes on the second hole and had trouble standing up. English all but ordered him to get checked out. Larson said his heart rate was high and blood pressure was low (90 over 50).
He had intravenous fluids and felt better by the end of the day. English grabbed Andrew Argotsinger, the head pro at nearby Windyke Country Club, to fill in. Larson slipped him $100 for the effort when the round was over.
For everyone else, it was a matter of soaked shirts, soaked pants and plenty of birdies from the fairway on a course that had been soaked by storms the last few days.
Towels were used as much to wipe arms, necks and brows as cleaning clubs.
“I didn’t get this wet in the shower this morning,” Glover said.
Spieth figured the heat would not be an issue coming from Dallas the last few weeks, though he conceded he played most of his golf before noon. He practically bragged to his caddie that Memphis heat was nothing to worry about.
“And then today I’m like, ‘Man, I was wrong.’ I’m humbled,” Spieth said. “It’s just a different kind of heat. But it felt like it was just coming off the ground. I’ll bring two shirts from now on and change at the turn because I was struggling a bit early in the round.”
The golf part was fine, though Spieth said the heat contributed to a few poor club choices that led to bogey. He’s right where he wants to be going into the weekend, with plenty of company.
Tommy Fleetwood (66) and Sungjae Im (65) were among five players at 8-under 132. Scottie Scheffler and Rory McIlroy each had a 66 and were in the group three shots behind.
The top 50 from the 70-man field advance to the second week of the playoffs at the BMW Championship, with Cam Davis making the biggest move. He had three birdies late for a 67 that currently would have him inside the top 50.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The battle for the FedExCup is officially underway at the FedEx St. Jude Championship. Just 70 men teed it up today in Memphis, Tennessee, with a trip to next week’s BMW Championship and a spot in next season’s Signature Events on the line.
It was a vintage Jordan Spieth sighting to kick off the FedExCup Playoffs, with the Texan tying his season-low round of 63 to take the first-round lead by one shot. Spieth was cruising, holding five birdies to zero bogeys as he hit his approach into 16. What followed was pure Spieth magic.
Spieth felt right at home in the muggy Southern air, finding his groove despite two weeks off. The recently turned 30-year-old said he spent that time playing plenty of golf.
“I tried to play a lot back at home just to shoot scores. I had kind of taken off playing a bunch, and I think that that helped a bit in the last couple weeks. Just tried to kind of get some competition. I felt like the more I’m playing at home and not having to work on a ton of stuff, the better it comes out to the course here,” said Spieth following his round.
The 2015 FedExCup champion hasn’t had the season he had hoped for. Spieth has as many missed cuts as he has top tens (six) and headed to Memphis missing the cut in two of his last three starts. While he was playing well by his own accord, the scores weren’t representative.
“I just found that I wasn’t playing a ton in that break between U.S. Open and (Genesis) Scottish Open, and so I just got to the Scottish, and I felt like things were good, but I just wasn’t scoring, so it was pretty frustrating.”
Near misses at the RBC Heritage and the Valspar Championship as well as a top five at the Masters buoyed Spieth in the FedExCup standings, where he finished the Regular Season ranked 31st, just outside the East Lake bubble.
Spieth found what he was looking for today at TPC Southwind and should have no problem making it to Atlanta if he can keep up his current form.
“I feel good,” Spieth added, “It didn’t quite feel as tight ball-striking-wise, but then all of a sudden, I ended up hitting a good one on 15 and then chipping in on 16, so I think it was solid. I’ve been driving the ball really nicely and everything kind of goes from there. If I feel confident stepping into a driver, getting in front of some shots and hitting some nice ones, that normally feeds to the rest of the bag.”
A win at the FedEx St. Jude would be Spieth’s first since the RBC Heritage in 2022 and would vault him to third in the standings, putting his sights squarely on a second FedExCup.
Jon Rahm (No. 1, projected to No. 1), the FedExCup standings leader, had a rocky start to his Playoffs campaign. After starting 2-under through six holes, Rahm added four bogeys, a double bogey and just one more birdie in his finishing 12 holes to card a 3-over 73. He needs to put together three good rounds to maintain his position atop the standings. … After withdrawing from the Wyndham Championship due to an ankle injury, Tom Kim (No. 14, projected to No. 4) fired off a 6-under 64 to jump up 10 spots in the FedExCup projections to No. 4. … A winner early in the season at The RSM Classic set up Adam Svensson (No. 38, projected to No. 28) to make the Playoffs, but a 4-under effort on Thursday has moved him into the top 30 and in position to make the TOUR Championship. … Eric Cole (No. 40, projected to No. 29) is solidifying his case for PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year honors with a 4-under 66, vaulting him up seven spots in the projected standings to No. 33. … Making his sixth consecutive Playoffs appearance, J.T. Poston (No. 45, projected to No. 33) carded a 4-under 66 at TPC Southwind on Thursday, which may help him finish this season where he finished last season – in Atlanta. … Chris Kirk (No. 28, projected to No. 38) lost ground in the projected standings following a 1-over 71, dropping down to No. 38 from No. 28. … A 1-over effort from Seamus Power (No. 29, projected to No. 39) is not going to do the trick for a guy that’s currently sitting right near the top 30 in the standings. Power lost substantial position, dropping 10 spots down to No. 39.
Here are the players projected to move inside the top 50 of the FedExCup after the first round of the FedEx St. Jude Championship. The top 50 will advance to the BMW Championship, set for Aug. 17-20 at Olympia Fields Country Club outside Chicago:
Cam Davis (No. 62, projected to No. 48): A heroic final round last week in Greensboro at the Wyndham Championship helped secure the Aussie a spot in the Playoffs and his effort on Thursday in Memphis may help him extend his stay. Starting the week at No. 62 in the standings, Davis was 12 spots from the top-50 threshold to get into the BMW Championship. Fortunately for him, his 4-under 66 on Thursday sees in a tie for fifth with enough projected points to move him inside the top 50 to 48th. “I would say putting has been a little bit better…all parts of my game are just in a pretty good place right now. I’m driving it pretty well, for the most part hitting it well into the greens and giving myself plenty of looks…” Davis said when asked about what’s clicking to make his Playoffs push.
Harris English (No. 42, projected to No. 51): English was 3-over par entering his final three holes of the day. He closed with three consecutive birdies to salvage an even-par round. An inspiring finish to the day in which he will hope to carry the momentum to Friday as he saw himself slide out of the top 50 to 51st on Thursday.
Patrick Rodgers (No. 43, projected to No. 52): A recent solo second at the Barracuda Championship in which he lost in a playoff to Akshay Bhatia (who earned his first TOUR win), Rodgers was in a good spot to make it to Chicago next week for the second Playoffs event. His plans took a hit Thursday as he slipped nine spots down to 52nd in the projected standings.
Aaron Rai (No. 65, projected to No. 50): One of the last on the course Thursday, and oh did he take advantage. Rai, who also falls under the “projected in” category today, was one of the few bogey-free rounds of the day and he complimented that with four birdies. Aside from finishing the day in T5, Rai also moved up 15 spots in the projected standings to sit exactly on the bubble on No. 50.
Lucas Glover (No. 49, projected to No. 35): Earning his way into the Playoffs with a win last week in Greensboro was apparently not satisfying enough for Glover who is now trying to solidify himself inside the top 50 to play next week in Chicago. Entering the week at No. 49 the five-time TOUR winner used back-to-back nines of 33 to card a 4-under 66. Glover is one of 10 players in a log jam at T5 but he is in a position to not only compete for the FedEx St. Jude title but also extend his season by another week.
J.T. Poston (No. 45, projected to No. 33): Making his sixth consecutive Playoffs appearance, Poston’s 4-under 66 at TPC Southwind may help him finish this season where he finished last season, in Atlanta. Poston started the week at 45th but his effort on Thursday vaulted him all the way up to 33rd, comfortably within the top 50 number for the BMW Championship. Three top-30 finishes in three trips to TPC Southwind including a T20 here last season, Poston would like to eclipse that this week to add a few more weeks to his season.