Lucas Glover still leads at St. Jude Championship but laments missed chances

AP photo by George Walker IV / Lucas Glover hits from the rough on the ninth hole at TPC Southwind during the third round of the FedEx St. Jude Championship on Saturday in Memphis. Glover had a one-shot lead for the second straight day in the opening event of the PGA Tour playoffs.

Lucas Glover shot a 4-under-par 66. He has the 54-hole lead in the FedEx St. Jude Championship. He has made only two bogeys going into the final round.

Such is the state of his game that he said he needed time to think about all the good things that went right Saturday.

"Scrappy would be how I would describe that day; parts of it you could remove the 'S.' I got a lot out of what I had," Glover said after building a one-shot lead, at 14-under 196, over Taylor Moore.

Glover is steeped in common sense, however, and it wasn't long before he could laugh at his state of mind.

"Three months ago, if I'd have been mad at 66 — or if you told me I'd be mad at 66 — I'd say you were crazy," he said.

Glover got enough out of his round to stay in front at steamy TPC Southwind in the opening event of the PGA Tour postseason. The irritation came from two short birdie chances he missed over the last three holes, a four-footer at the par-5 16th and a sharp-breaking six-footer on the final hole.

Even so, it was his sixth score of 66 or lower in his last seven rounds — and 11 of his last 19 — and it made the 43-year-old American the man to catch Sunday. There are plenty lined up for that chance.

Moore, who earned his first PGA Tour victory this year at the Valspar Championship, bogeyed his last hole for a 65 and will play in the final group.

England's Tommy Fleetwood ran off three late birdies for a 66 that left him two shots behind as he goes for his first win on American soil. Max Homa (65) and Jordan Spieth (68) were tied for fourth and three back.

"I like how I'm playing. I can't do a whole lot more than what I've been doing," Homa said. "I played three really solid rounds. Obviously, left some out there, like everybody has. I'm just going to keep doing it and see what comes of tomorrow."

Glover was No. 112 in the FedEx Cup standings a week ago when he won the Wyndham Championship for his first victory in two years. That moved him to No. 49 — easily among the top 70 who qualified for the PGA Tour's postseason — and now he has a chance to wrap up a spot in the top 30 for the FedEx Cup finale, depending on how things go Sunday.

"I'm in a good spot," Glover said. "Just iron a few things out and wake up tomorrow a little more confident than I am right now and see where we are."

The top 50 in the FedEx Cup standings after this tournament move on to the BMW Championship, which starts Thursday near Chicago. The top 30 after that head to Atlanta for the season-ending Tour Championship.

Chattanooga resident Stephan Jaeger, 61st in the standings entering the week, is tied for 16th on the leaderboard in Memphis, moving to 7 under with a 69. Chattanooga native Keith Mitchell, 58th in the standings, is tied for 55th at par after a 72. A third Baylor School graduate, Harris English, was another stroke back and tied for 60th after a 70, but he was the only one of the trio who began the tournament in the FedEx Cup chase's top 50, at No. 42.

While Glover had a slim lead, he at least created a little separation. There were 16 players within four shots of him at the start of another steamy day in Memphis; now only four players are within three shots.

Justin Rose wasn't one of them, though he did tie the course record with a 61. After opening with a 76 and following with a 67 on Friday — there are no cuts in the PGA Tour's postseason — the low round left him tied for 23rd.

Rory McIlroy (68) and Patrick Cantlay (66) were in the large group tied for sixth at 9-under 201, just five shots back. McIlroy decided to cut an inch off a new putter he is using this week, and it helped a little, but not enough to offset four bogeys that held him back.

"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. "Five back going into tomorrow, I feel like I could catch fire and hopefully make a run."

Glover's big run didn't come out of the blue. Once he went to a long putter at the Memorial Tournament in early June, he has been trending. He had three straight finishes in the top six, took a week off and missed a cut in his return, then won the Wyndham Championship and is playing with confidence.

Through it all, the 2009 U.S. Open champ remains at his self-deprecating best, such as describing how he chipped in for birdie on the opening hole Saturday.

"That was a brutal shot. I had 98 yards in the fairway, downwind, with a front pin with a backstop," he said. "In your guys' world, I misspelled 'the.' ... I chunked a wedge, but I made up for it in pretty flashy fashion."

He rolled in an 18-foot birdie putt on No. 2, which he made look easy, and after his lone bogey of the round, he sank an eight-foot birdie on the sixth.

Glover's expectations are such that all he could think about when he finished were the two birdie chances he let get away from him. He doesn't want that to happen Sunday, when he figures to have his hands full.

"I think the first nine holes is just pedal to the metal, because they're coming," he said. "Best players in the world are right behind me."