Glover, Vu continue comebacks in big weekend in golf

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The 2023 PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup season is down to two events and 50 golfers.

After battling the brutal heat and humidity at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee, the surviving players will head to the second leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs this coming week, the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields Country Club outside Chicago.

Lucas Glover will be there after winning for the second straight week. The 43-year-old has climbed to fourth in the FedEx Cup points standings and put himself into the conversation to make the U.S. team for the upcoming Ryder Cup.

“I think I’ve never made it and I want to,” Glover said.

In women’s golf, American Lilia Vu won her second major of the season at the AIG Women’s Open in England. Australia’s Cameron Smith won again in the LIV Golf League.

Here’s what happened in professional golf this weekend:

What happened on the PGA Tour

FedEx St. Jude Championship
TPC Southwind, Memphis
Winner: Lucas Glover

How he won: Heading into last week’s Wyndham Championship, Glover was 112th in FedEx Cup points and seemed headed home to wait for the fall schedule to begin. But then he picked up his first victory in more than two years to climb to 49th in points, one spot inside the FedEx St. Jude Championship bubble.

On Sunday, Glover held off Patrick Cantlay on the first hole of a playoff, after Cantlay hit his tee shot into the water, at the FedEx St. Jude Championship, the first leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs. With the victory, Glover collected $3.6 million (he made $4.97 million the past two weeks) and 2,000 FedEx Cup points. He is fourth in FedEx Cup points and is assured of playing in next week’s BMW Championship and the season-ending Tour Championship.

“I mean, if you would have told me this three months ago, I’d tell you you’re crazy,” Glover told reporters in Memphis. “But at the same time, if you asked me legitimately did I think I was capable, I’d say yes, even then. It’s just one of those sad ways athletes are wired. We always believe in ourselves no matter how bad it is.

“I never gave that up, but like middle of May, it was hard to go to the range some days and hard to work. But we pushed through and did it anyway.”

How unlikely is Glover’s red-hot heater? According to ESPN Stats & Information, Glover, who was ranked No. 117 in the world heading into last week, is the second-lowest-ranked player to win in back-to-back starts in the past decade. Brendon Todd did it in 2019 when he was ranked 525th.

Glover, 43, is also the fifth player in FedEx Cup playoff history to win a tournament at 40 or older, joining Vijay Singh, Steve Stricker, Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk. Glover is the second-oldest player to do it; Singh was 45 when he captured The Barclays and Deutsche Bank Championship in 2008.

What happened on the LPGA Tour

AIG Women’s Open
Walton Heath Golf Club, Surrey, England
Winner: Lilia Vu

How she won: Vu started the final round tied with England’s Charley Hull at 9 under, and the former UCLA star produced a second straight 5-under 67 to win by 6 shots with a 72-hole total of 14-under 274. Hull finished second at 8 under, followed by South Koreans Jiyai Shin (7 under), Hyo Joo Kim (6 under) and Amy Yang (6 under). It was the largest margin of victory at the Women’s Open since Shin won by 9 in 2012.

Vu, 25, picked up her third victory this season. She claimed her first LPGA win at the Honda LPGA Thailand and then her first major championship at the Chevron Championship in April. She is the first woman golfer since Jin Young Ko in 2019 to win two majors in the same season, and the first American to do it since Juli Inkster in 1999. She is only the third American woman to win The Open in the past 20 years, joining Stacy Lewis in 2013 and Mo Martin in 2014.

Vu missed four cuts and hadn’t finished better than 17th after winning the Chevron Championship. She finished 17 over in 36 holes at the U.S. Women’s Open at Pebble Beach.

“Honestly I just wanted to win golf tournaments out here on the LPGA,” Vu told reporters in England. “It’s just been a crazy year for me, just doing pretty well at the beginning of the season and just hit a lull in the middle, just struggling. I thought at the U.S. Open after I played so bad, I didn’t know if I could ever win again.”

A second major championship victory caps a remarkable comeback by Vu, who made just one cut in nine starts as an LPGA rookie in 2019. She spent the next two seasons playing on the Symetra Tour before reclaiming her LPGA card in 2022. She admitted she nearly walked away from the game.

Vu will be ranked No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Ranking for the first time Monday, and she’ll be on the American team that will battle Europe at the Solheim Cup in Spain in September. She also clinched the Rolex Annika Major Award, which goes to the player who has the best record in all five major championships during the season.

What happened in the LIV Golf League

LIV Golf Bedminster
Trump National Golf Club, Bedminster, New Jersey
Winner: Cameron Smith

How he won: Smith, the 2022 Open Championship winner, ran away from the field at Trump Bedminster to win for the second time in three events. The Australian was 12 under after 54 holes, 7 shots better than India’s Anbirban Lahiri. Abraham Ancer, Patrick Reed and Dean Burmester tied for third at 4 under.

Smith picked up his third LIV Golf victory in the past two seasons. He also won outside Chicago last year and outside London in July. Smith’s Ripper GC squad, which also includes Australians Jed Morgan, Matt Jones and Marc Leishman, won the team competition at Bedminster as well with a total of 20 under. That was 11 strokes better than Bryson DeChambeau‘s Crushers GC and Louis Oosthuizen’s Stinger GC.

Smith started the final round with a 4-stroke lead over Phil Mickelson. It was reduced to two shots after Smith opened with a bogey, and Mickelson picked up a birdie on the par-3 fourth. But then disaster struck for Mickelson on the par-3 seventh when he hit two tee shots in the water and carded a quintuple-bogey 8. Smith had five birdies and no bogeys in the final 13 holes. He needed only 76 putts over 54 holes.

Smith overtook Talor Gooch for the season-long points lead with two regular-season events left before the individual and team championship in Miami. The next LIV Golf League event isn’t for five weeks, Sept. 22-24 at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Illinois. Smith is the defending champion.

“I don’t think I’ve played this consistent,” Smith said. “I have had a couple of bad weeks that I would like to take back, but other than that, I feel like I’m playing the most consistent golf and the best golf that I’ve played. It’s nice to be able to do that week in and week out. It’s something that I’ve worked for, something that was a goal of mine at the start of the year was to be up there with at least a chance for the last event.

“Yeah, so it’s nice to do it, and I think it’ll keep me practicing the next five weeks. Five weeks is a long time off. I’ll probably put the clubs down for a couple of weeks and then get right back into it, and then going back to Chicago where I won last year is a nice feeling, as well.”

Who’s in and out of the FedEx Cup Playoffs

Who’s in:

Cam Davis: The Australian golfer entered the week at No. 62 in the points standings, but tied for sixth at 11 under in Memphis and climbed to No. 45 in points. He carded a 3-under 67 on Sunday to get the job done.

Hideki Matsuyama: The 2021 Masters champion battled neck and back injuries all season, but he jumped 10 spots in points to 47th with a tie for 16th at 9 under at TPC Southwind. He posted a 5-under 65 on Sunday by closing with a birdie, eagle, birdie and par in his final four holes. He qualified for the Tour Championship in each of his first nine years on the PGA Tour.

Tom Hoge: Talk about taking it down to the wire. Hoge seemed to be in jeopardy when he took a double-bogey 5 on the par-3 14th hole. But then he carded three straight birdies on the last three holes to finish 3-under 67. He tied for 43rd at 4 under and is 48th in points.

Harris English: The former Georgia star looked to be in trouble heading into Sunday, but he grinded out a 3-under 67 to tie for 52nd with a 72-hole total of 2 under. That was good enough to finish 49th in points.

Patrick Rodgers: Rodgers, a former Stanford star, was the last man standing at 50th in points. He tied for 52nd at 2 under after carding an even-par 70 on Sunday.

Who’s out

Mackenzie Hughes: The Canadian started the week 47th in points and was inside the top 50 when he completed his round Sunday. But after tying for 58th at 1 under, he fell to 51st in points after the rest of the field finished. He chipped in from off the green twice Sunday to give himself a chance.

Nick Hardy: Hardy, who grew up north of Chicago in Northbrook, Illinois, came within two spots of heading home to compete in the BMW Championship. He started the week at 50th in points and fell two spots after tying for 49th at 3 under.

Taylor Montgomery: The PGA Tour rookie went down fighting with a 3-under 67 on Sunday. Alas, it was good enough for only 53rd in points.

Ryder Cup Stock Report

Taking stock of players who helped themselves — and those who didn’t — in trying to make the U.S. and European squads for the upcoming Ryder Cup.

Lucas Glover: Stock up
In the span of two weeks, Glover has climbed from 64th to 16th in the U.S. Ryder Cup team points standings. Another win at the BMW Championship would earn him an automatic spot. Another good showing in Chicago should make U.S. team captain Zach Johnson think long and hard about including him.

Patrick Cantlay: Stock up
There wasn’t much doubt about Cantlay making the team, but a playoff loss in the FedEx Cup playoffs shows his game is trending in the right direction.

Jordan Spieth: Stock up
Like Cantlay, it would have been a big surprise if Spieth wasn’t competing for the Americans outside Rome in late September. He tied for sixth at 11 under at TPC Southwind, his seventh top-10 finish this season.

Max Homa: Stock up
Homa’s spot seemed a bit uncertain after not-so-great finishes in the first three majors. But then he tied for 12th at the Scottish Open, 10th at The Open and sixth at the FedEx St. Jude Championship.

Sam Burns: Stock down
It has been a so-so season for Burns with only five top-10s in 23 PGA Tour starts. A tie for 52nd at TPC Southwind won’t help his chances.

Tommy Fleetwood: Stock up
The Englishman is still searching for his first PGA Tour victory after another close call. He tied for third at 14 under in Memphis, his 22nd top-five finish on tour. He is the first player in PGA Tour history to earn more than $20 million in official career earnings without a victory.

Séamus Power: Stock down
The Irishman probably needed a strong playoff performance to push his way into the European team conversation. He tied for 66th, last in the field, at 4 over. He’s in the BMW Championship field.

Best of the weekend

Best round
Justin Rose’s 9-under 61 on Saturday tied the course record at TPC Southwind. He had nine birdies and no bogeys.

Best bunker shot
Hull’s eagle on the 11th hole got her within 3 shots of Vu on Sunday. She didn’t get any closer.

Best approach shot
Vu’s iron shot on the 12th was quite an answer to Hull’s eagle.

Best putt
That’s good team golf.

Best shot off a cart path
Cameron Smith pulled off this shot en route to a victory.

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