Lucas Glover fired a four-under par 66 to seize a one-stroke lead after Saturday’s third round of the St. Jude Championship, the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoff opener.
The 43-year-old American, trying to win for the second consecutive week, birdied four of the first six holes on his way to finishing 54 holes on 14-under 196 at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee.
That put Glover, the 2009 US Open champion, one ahead of countryman Taylor Moore, who shot 65, with England’s Tommy Fleetwood third on 198 after a third straight 66.
“Scrappy would be how I would describe that day. Parts of it you could remove the ‘S,'” Glover said.
“It was a little bit of smoke and mirrors today, just to be honest. I got a lot out of what I had.
“Short game bailed me out a lot early, and missed a couple putts I thought I should have made coming in. But I’m still in a good spot.”
Three-time major winner Jordan Spieth and fellow American Max Homa were on 199 while a sixth-place pack on 201 included world number two Rory McIlroy, South Koreans Tom Kim and Im Sung-jae, American Patrick Cantlay, Norway‘s Viktor Hovland and Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo.
The 70-player showdown will advance 50 to next week’s BMW Championship, from which only the top 30 in season points qualify for the Tour Championship in two weeks at Atlanta.
Glover, who snapped a two-year win drought at Greensboro last Sunday, had been in the top six in three of his four PGA starts last month before his breakthrough.
“I’m going to need more of the same,” Glover said. “I’m going to need to make more putts than I did coming down the stretch.”
Glover holed out from beyond 43 feet at the first, sank birdie putts of 16 feet at the second and 21 feet at the par-3 fourth then answered his lone bogey at the fifth, when he missed the green on his approach, with an eight foot birdie putt at the sixth. From there he finished with 11 pars and a five-foot birdie putt at 13.
Moore shared the lead at the 18th tee but found a fairway bunker and needed three to reach the green, leaving himself a putt from just under 14 feet for par.
He came up short and a closing bogey left Glover alone at the top, but Moore was fired up for the closing drama.
“Just really stoked,” Moore said. “I’m driving the ball well, putting the ball in the fairway and giving myself chances, some good looks coming in on these greens, and I feel like that has been the recipe.
Moore said winning his first PGA title in March at the Valspar Championship could help him capture his second this weekend.
“With a win under my belt, just more mature and more comfortable in that situation,” Moore said. “Get yourself in position on the back nine on Sunday, that’s all I can ask for. Looking forward to the challenge.”
Four-time major winner McIlroy fired a 68 to pull within five while top-ranked Scottie Scheffler shot 71 to stand on 204. McIlroy would overtake Scheffler for world number one with a victory if the American finishes tied for fifth or worse.
“Overall I feel like I’ve sort of been stuck in neutral a little bit this week, and I’m still in a decent position,” McIlroy said. “I feel like I could catch fire and hopefully make a run.”
– Rose‘s 61 ties record –
England’s Justin Rose, the 2013 US Open winner and 2016 Olympic champion, fired a bogey-free 61 to match the course record and stand on 204.
Rose won his 11th career PGA title, and his first in four years, in February at Pebble Beach.
“I actually didn’t realize 61 was the course record, but great,” Rose said. “Nice little bonus for the day.”
American Sam Burns aced the par-3 11th hole from 157 yards, his second career PGA hole-in-one after an ace at this year’s US Open. He shot 67 to stand on 210.
Reigning Masters champion Jon Rahm, the season points leader from Spain, fired a 67 to finish on 207.