Why Sunday’s final round at the FedEx St. Jude is so meaningful, even for the players not in contention

Cam Davis

Cam Davis is poised to break into the top 50 on Sunday in Memphis.

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While all eyes are on the leaders at this week’s FedEx Cup Playoffs opener, the FedEx St. Jude Championship, the entire field has plenty to play for.

In addition to an inflated $20 million purse, the FedEx St. Jude has even more significance than usual. At the conclusion of the tournament, the 70-man field will be whittled down to the top 50. Those 50 players will move on to next week’s playoff event, the BMW Championship, but they’ll also achieve another coveted status: exemption into next year’s eight “signature events,” which will be limited-field, no-cut tournaments with giant purses.

While there are ways to play your way in to those tournaments, spots are limited. The best way to do it is to simply get the job done with a good finish this week. But as any golfer knows, that’s easier said than done.

With one round remaining in Memphis, there is one player who stands out above all the rest as the most significant mover in the ranking: tournament leader Lucas Glover.

Ranked right on the edge at No. 49 to start the week, Glover can launch himself all the way to No. 3 with a win on Sunday. (Check out the PGA Tour’s live projected ranking here.) That’s a move of 46 spots! It goes without saying that this is the best possible time in the season to put the pedal to the metal.

Who else is in a precarious position?

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland reacts to his birdie putt on the first green during the third round of the FedEx St. Jude Championship at TPC Southwind on August 12, 2023 in Memphis, Tennessee.
Why Rory McIlroy sent his caddie to a Memphis golf shop in the middle of an event
By: Jack Hirsh

Australian Cam Davis’ prospects are currently looking good. Ranked 62nd heading into the week, Davis is T12 through three rounds at eight under par, and if he stays where he is, he’s projected to move up to No. 49. How’s that for final-round pressure?

Then there’s Mackenzie Hughes. Ranked 47th to start the week, Hughes was near the bottom of the leaderboard through three rounds in Memphis. He’s currently projected to finish at No. 51 unless he can conjure a final-round surge.

And Nick Hardy is the man right on the bubble. Ranked 50th to start the week, he’s currently projected to stay there. Heading into the final round, he’s T42, so he’ll need to stay the course — and hope too many others don’t pass him on the leaderboard.

Additional intrigue like these scenarios is what makes the playoffs so enjoyable from a fan perspective. This year, there’s plenty at stake — from the top of the leaderboard all the way down to the bottom.

Who will achieve the coveted top 50 spots? You can watch the action in Memphis on Golf Channel starting at 12 p.m. ET.

Golf.com Editor

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on GOLF.com.