Survive and Advance
Major winners Scott, Glover among four pros to play their way inside FedEx Cup top 70, extend season another week
Adam Scott moved on to the BMW Championship after shooting a closing 66 at TPC Southwind to secure a top-10 finish at the FedEx St. Jude Championship.
MEMPHIS — The PGA Tour/FedEx Cup bubble is a steady source of high drama, from the Wyndham Championship through the Tour Championship. At this week's FedEx St. Jude Championship, the top 125 players at the end of the regular season fought it out to finishing inside the top 70 and keep their playoff experience alive at next week's BMW Championship. In the past, when four playoff events were held, it was somewhat easier to climb up from the lower ranks during the course of the playoffs, but since 2019 and the start of the three-eventera, it took a special performance in the very first leg to stay alive.
That was true again in Memphis, and when the final putt had fallen, four players had stepped up sufficiently to go from outside No. 70 to the safety of qualification. Adam Scott, Lucas Glover, Andrew Putnam, and Wyndham Clark were the beneficiaries of strong play and, in some cases, a bit of late luck.
Scott's campaign was one of the most definitive, a closing 66 capping a stellar week and a T-5 finish. That vaulted the Aussie up 32 spots, from 77th to 45th, and was more than enough to secure a tee time at Delaware Country Club.
"What's satisfying?" he asked rhetorically. "Getting through I guess, but I played really poorly yesterday and somehow shot a decent score. To turn it around and play solid today and give myself a chance to go through, I'm happy with that. I get to play four rounds next week … I feel even though I'm not winning this event, I feel like I'm getting something out of the week.
"I think that's sometimes the hardest thing at this point in my career is week after week switching the mind on all the time," he added. "Floating around on autopilot sometimes and that doesn't get you very far, so I had to focus a little bit more this week."
One of only two players to gain more ground than Scott in Memphis was Lucas Glover, who finished a stroke better than the Australian at 12 under to secure a T-3 finish. He started the week barely inside the postseason bubble, at 121st, and ended 34th, which not only ensures a continued playoff run but gives him a decent chance to qualify for the Tour Championship with another solid week.
"It's nice. Kind of a similar situation a couple years ago," Glover said, referring to his 2019 run. "I had one and a half good weeks and ended up in Atlanta. That was kind of in the back of my head. Thought, you know, just got to get to the next week and then everybody's got a shot."
Like Scott, Putnam finished at 11 under and made the bubble cutoff with room to spare, moving from 87th to 47th on the eligibility points list.
Wyndham Clark's chances, however, were on a knife's edge all day. For a long time, it appeared as though Lee Hodges was going to be the fourth player to go from out to in, and Clark did himself no favors by playing his final five holes in four over, only avoiding worse trouble with an up-and-down par on 18 to close out a two-over 72. It seemed as though he had blown his chance, especially when Hodges finished with a birdie on 18 to post 65. But fluctuations in the leaderboard late in the day, after both had left the course, hurt Hodges' final position and brought Clark back to No. 70. It got to the point where a single Sungjae Im bogey on 18 would have brought Hodges back into the mix, but it wasn't to be.
For each player who fought their way inside the top 70, simple math indicates that someone else must fall out. The most frustrating figure of the bubble dance this week was Anirban Lahiri, who missed the cut by two shots but still had a fighting chance to make the BMW. Instead, he finished 71st in the standings, trailing Clark by just three points. (Moments before the end of the tournament, the margin was a ridiculously slim .072 points.)
Elsewhere, Brendon Todd needed a strong closing round to save his playoff hopes, but shot 75 to slip out of the top 70 after starting the week in 68th place. The final two players to fall from the top 70 were John Huh, who withdrew with a lower-back injury during his second round, and Lanto Griffin, who in late July opted to undergo back surgery and miss the rest of the 2021-22 season, but remained in 69th place at the start of this week.
Sepp Straka, who nearly won the event after six straight missed cuts, rose to eighth place, while Will Zalatoris took over the top spot from Scottie Scheffler with his first PGA Tour victory. Brian Harman, with a t-3 finish, made a huge leap from 55th to 23rd, and now has an inside track to the Tour Championship, while fellow Georgia Bulldog Kevin Kisner used his own t-20 finish to crack the top 30. Trey Mullinax rose from 70th to 40th at 11 under, and two rookies, Tom Kim and Sahith Theegala, also moved inside the top 30 with strong showings. Seamus Power, Shane Lowry, Aaron Wise and Cameron Tringale had the opposite experience—they were inside the top 30, but middling finishes or missed cuts pushed them out, and they'll have work to do at the BMW Championship