The Punter

The Punter's In-Play Blog: Can Glover get the job done?

Golfer Lucas Glover
Lucas Glover in action in round three

There's just one round to go at the FedEx St Jude Championship and last week's Wyndham winner, Lucas Glover, is still in front but can he hold on?

  • Stats point to the frontrunner

  • Prolific Homa a fair alternative to the front three

  • Is Rory ready to put in a charge?

08:30 - August 13, 2023

Lucas Glover missed a six footer for birdie at the 18th hole yesterday at the FedEx St Jude Championship but he still goes into the fourth and final round with a one-stroke lead. Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 8:25.

Lucas Glover -14 3.65
Taylor Moore -13 5.85/1
Tommy Fleetwood -12 5.69/2
Max Homa -11 10.09/1
Jordan Spieth -11 10.519/2
Rory McIlroy -9 21.020/1
Viktor Hovland -9 29.028/1
Patrick Cantlay -9 36.035/1
Tom Kim -9 50.049/1
Sungjae im -9 60.059/1
Emiliano Grillo -9 80.079/1
-8 and 100.099/1 bar

The last four 54-hole leaders at TPC Southwind - Rory McIlroy (2019), Brendon Todd (2020), Harris English (2021) and J.J Spaun (2022) have all failed to convert.

McIlroy and English both finished fourth but Todd finished only 15th and poor Spaun shot 78 to finish 42nd!

Last year's winner, Will Zalatoris, sat tied for third and two strokes behind Spaun through three rounds and the two course winners before him, Justin Thomas and Abraham Ancer, both trailed by four with a round to go but that's as far back as any winner has trailed by at Southwind since Len Mattiace won from seven strokes back 21 years ago.

Those stats suggest we shouldn't be scanning too far down the leaderboard, but we can't completely rule out an off the pace winner given Sam Burns and Hideki Matsuyama made the playoff here two years ago having trailed by eight and nine strokes respectively.

Although Jon Rahm won back-to-back PGA Tour events earlier in the season, Dave Tindall's each-way fancy, Lucas Glover, is bidding to be the first player this season to win in consecutive weeks and while I keep bashing him, he keeps on delivering.

I was keen to be against him last week with a round to go and I've been disparaging of his chances of delivering all week here but there's no denying his stats are phenomenal.

The two key stats here over the years have been Scrambling and Par 4 Scoring and Glover is playing the par fours better than anyone else and he's ranking third for Scrambling.

Ranking only 32nd for Putting Average and 34th for Strokes Gained Putting, his split grip with the new long putter isn't working quite as well as it did last week but it's no surprise to see him still in front given he also ranks first for SG Tee-to Green, second for SG Approach and third for SG Around the Green. If he keeps that up, he may well go in again but I'm going to stick to my guns. I think he's worth taking on.

The Valspar winner, Taylor Moore, who sits alone in second, scored very well yesterday afternoon given his long game looked ragged at times and while nobody would be disappointed to see Tommy Fleetwood finally win for the first time on the PGA Tour, backing him in-contention rarely pays dividends.

If the front three are all going to come up short, and I suspect they might, Max Homa could well be the man to capitalise.

The prolific 32-year-old is looking to win for the second time on the PGA Tour for the third year in-a-row and if he keeps trending in the right direction, the 9/110.00 looks fair. So far this week he's shot rounds of 68, 66 and 65 but I wouldn't rule out any of the players trailing by six on -9.

Rory McIlroy is making a lot of sloppy mistakes, but we all know how dangerous he is, Viktor Hovland is always a threat when trailing with a round to go and I haven't given up on in-play pick, Tom Kim, who shot 61 in round four to win the Wyndham Championship 12 months ago.

Rory McIlroy at TPC Southwind.jpg

My Find Me a 100 Winner pick, Lee Hodges, was particularly disappointing on the back-nine yesterday, having climbed to third after playing the front nine in two-under-par, and the 15/82.88 taken about him finishing inside the top-30 now looks in jeopardy.

And my pre-event picks, J.T Poston and Byeong Hun An, were also disappointing yesterday and they appear to have too much too do now given they sit tied for 16th and seven off the lead, so it looks like being a poor week but I'm not going to make matters worse.

This looks like a tricky event to untangle and while the likes of Homa, Rory, Hovland and Kim look like decent alternatives to the front three, I'm happy to put the spade down for now and see what happens tonight but I will be looking to take on Glover if he trades anywhere close to even money early on tonight.

08:15 - August 12, 2023

Following an immaculate bogey-free six-under-par 64 in round two yesterday, last week's Wyndham Championship winner, Lucas Glover, leads the FedEx St. Jude Championship at the halfway stage, but three men are ahead of him in the market this morning. Here's the latest standings with prices to back at 8:10.

Lucas Glover -10 9.617/2
Jordan Spieth -9 9.417/2
Tommy Fleetwood -8 13.012/1
Tom Kim -8 15.014/1
Sungjae im -8 17.5
Emiliano Grillo -8 24.023/1
Taylor Moore -8 30.029/1
Scottie Scheffler -7 7.413/2
Rory McIlroy -7 8.88/1
J.T Poston -7 38.037/1
Can Davis -7 42.041/1
Lee Hodges -7 50.049/1
Adam Hadwin -7 80.079/1
Xander Schauffele -6 27.026/1
Max Homa -6 38.037/1
-6 and 46.045/1 bar

Recent history at TPC Southwind suggests we can scan some way down the leaderboard this morning.

Last year's winner, Will Zalatoris, moved up from 86th (field of 125) to 17th and five off the lead at the halfway stage with a seven-under-par 63 in round two and the 2017 course winner, Daniel Berger, and the 2020 winner, Justin Thomas, both trailed by seven at halfway.

Thomas sat 12th and Berger 34th and Hideki Matsuyama was beaten in a playoff in 2021 having sat 34th and ten adrift at this stage but it's a confusing picture.

The more volatile recent leaderboards have been the theme since the venue has been used for the more elevated events with limited field sizes (this one last year and the now defunct WGC Invitational between 2019 and 2021), but when Southwind was the venue for the now defunct St Jude Classic between 1989 and 2018, winning from off the pace was a rarity.

Between 2009 and 2016, five of the eight St Jude Classic winners were leading or co-leading at halfway and Dustin Johnson, who sat 18th and five adrift in 2012, was the only winner not to be in the top-five after 36 holes during that eight-year spell. And when he won here for the second time in 2018, he led by a stroke at halfway.

The current leader, Glover, looks opposable. I was keen to take him on last week when he won, and his victory last week hasn't massively changed my opinion of his on-course demeanour.

He's never convinced in-contention and he was aided greatly last week by Russell Henley, who bogeyed the last three holes after he'd hit the front after a weather delay late on in round four.

Glover frontrunning over the weekend to hold off a field of this stature is tough to envisage.

Trailing by three in a tie for eighth, the world number one, Scottie Scheffler, is the favourite at the halfway stage and rightly so given the putter appears to be behaving itself at last.

Scottie Scheffler FedEx St Jude.jpg

Through two rounds, Scheffler ranks third for Putting Average and sixth for Strokes Gained Putting and if he continues to putt nicely, he has an outstanding chance of ending the week in front.

For the third day in-a-row, Scheffler will be playing with Rory McIlroy today but their playing partner for the first two days, Jon Rahm, looks to have too much to do after a scruffy couple of days. The Spaniard made a huge move on day three at the Open Championship last time out and he needs something similar today given he trails by ten on level par.

My Find Me a 100 Winner pick, Lee Hodges, makes up the three-ball with Scottie and Rory today after he fired a very solid five-under-par 65 in round two to move up 26 places and I'm quite hopeful he can keep going in the right direction today.

Hodges ranks number one for Greens In Regulation at the halfway stage and he looks very fairly priced at 50.049/1.

With the putting improvement so obvious this week, I was sorely tempted to get Scheffler onside this morning but given the recent in-running trends here and the condensed nature of the 36-hole leaderboard, it's a really tough tournament to predict and I'm happy to sit on my hands for now and see what today brings.

09:15 - August 11, 2023

Jordan Spieth finished the first round of the FedEx St Jude Championship with a birdie at the par four 15th and an eagle three at the 16th to jump from -4 to -7 and he goes into today's second round with a one stroke lead over Tom Kim.

Spieth now heads the market at 8.07/1 and he'll be hoping to fare far better than the last time he led after round one.

The world number 12 set the pace at the Sony Open back in January but shot 75 on Friday to miss the cut!

That was the 15th time he'd led or co-led after round one and it was far and away his worst performance.

Spieth won the Open Championship (his last major success) in 2017, having been tied for the lead on Thursday night and that was the fifth time that he'd gone on convert after being in front after round one.

Ben Crane won here wire-to-wire back in 2014 and he was the sixth wire-to-wire winner in 18 years but last year's victor, Will Zalatoris, sat tied for 86th and nine adrift after round one so a slow start can be overcome here.

Looking at the market this morning, Scottie Scheffler, who trails by four, is the only other player trading at single figures and given he ranks 10th for Putting Average and 24th for Strokes Gained Putting, although his stroke looked ugly at times, the stats suggest there's an improvement with the flatstick.

That's not enough of an improvement for me to get involved and the one I like is Tom Kim at 13.012/1, who trails Spieth by just one.

Kim missed the chance to defend his Wyndham Championship title last week due to an ankle injury but that was just about the only thing that put me off him before the off.

TPC Southwind clearly suits him given he finished 13th on debut 12 months ago after winning the Wyndham the week before and 12/113.00 looks reasonable.

Rory McIlroy, who sits alongside Scheffler on -3, is trading at around 10/111.00 this morning but his course form numbers aren't great and he's not helping himself by making daft comments about Phil Mickelson when there's absolutely no need for him to get involved.

I'll be back tomorrow once we've reached the halfway stage.

FedEx St Championship Pre-Event Selection:
Matt Fitzpatrick @ 55.054/1
Byeong Hun An @ 90.089/1
J.T Poston @ 95.094/1

In-Play Picks:
Tom Kim @ 13.012/1

Find Me a 100 Winner Selections:
2 u Lee Hodges @ 150.0149/1
Place order to lay 8u @ 10.09/1 & 12u @ 2.01/1
Lee Hodges 4u Top-30 @ 15/82.88
1u Thomas Detry @ 250.0249/1
Place order to lay 8u @ 10.09/1 & 12u @ 2.01/1
Thomas Detry 2u Top-20 @ 4.84/1

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter


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