Written by Paul Hodowanic @PaulHodowanic
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Sunday’s final round of the FedEx St. Jude Championship will mark the end of the season for 20 players. While 70 made it to TPC Southwind for the first leg of the FedExCup Playoffs, only the top 50 in the FedExCup standings will advance to next week’s BMW Championship.
The implications extend into the 2024 season, as well. The top 50 in the FedExCup after Sunday will qualify for next year’s eight Signature Events, which feature elevated purses and FedExCup points.
With numerous spots still in limbo entering the fourth round, here’s a look at five players on the bubble and what they need to do to ensure their season continues.
Started the week: 57th
Currently projected: 57th
Matsuyama’s third round showed the wild swings that the Playoffs’ quadrupled points can produce in the standings. As he poured in his sixth birdie of the day on the par-4 ninth to shoot an outgoing 30, Matsuyama climbed all the way up to T2 in the tournament and 24th in the FedExCup, seemingly a shoo-in for next week’s BMW Championship with a sizable head start on clinching a spot at East Lake.
When he finished his round a few hours later, Matsuyama was back on the bubble for the BMW Championship. He bogeyed the 10th, doubled the 11th, and made two more bogeys to give back his exceptional start and end right where he started, at 4 under and 57th in the FedExCup.
Currently tied for 38th in the tournament, Matsuyama needs at least a two-way tie for 25th to advance to the BMW Championship. Given how the leaderboard is shaking out, he will likely need to do even better. He is three strokes out of a nine-way tie for 16th, which, per current TOUR projections, would be enough to sneak into the top 50. With TPC Southwind playing roughly 1.5 shots under par each day, Matsuyama is eyeing a 65 or 66 on Sunday to give himself a chance. He hasn’t missed the TOUR Championship since he joined the PGA TOUR in 2014.
Hideki Matsuyama makes 11-foot birdie at FedEx St. Jude
Started the week: 48th
Currently projected: 47th
Young’s week hasn’t been perfect, but perfection isn’t required, given how his biggest competitors are faring. Young entered the tournament 48th in the standings, vulnerable if any players outside the top 50 made big moves and pushed him out. That has not happened. Through three rounds, only Cam Davis is projected to move inside the top 50, and no other golfer inside the top 15 of the leaderboard was outside the top 50 in the FedExCup standings at the beginning of the week.
Currently T42 at 3 under, Young needs to finish better than T54 (currently even-par) to earn his spot. As long as he doesn’t go backward on Sunday and no longshot flies up the leaderboard for an improbable victory, Young, the reigning Rookie of the Year, will have done enough to play again next week.
Started the week: 49th
Currently projected: 3rd
Glover would need to finish outside the top-54 to miss the BMW Championship. Given he’s the 54-hole leader and carries a 14-shot cushion on the five-way tie for 55th, that’s not a conversation worth having. What is interesting is just how far he could vault himself up the standings. He already moved 63 spots from 112th to 49th after his win at the Wyndham Championship last week. A win at TPC Southwind would push him as high as No. 3, where he is currently projected. A finish inside the top 7 will likely be enough to enter the top 30 in the FedExCup standings, the all-important threshold to qualify for the TOUR Championship in two weeks. He’s presently five shots ahead of a six-way tie for sixth.
Lucas Glover chips in from 43 feet for birdie at FedEx St. Jude
Started the week: 62nd
Currently projected: 49th
The Playoffs started for Davis in earnest after he failed to qualify for The Open Championship. The Australian traveled across the pond for the Genesis Scottish Open, hoping to play his way into the year’s final major championship with a strong finish. A missed cut squashed those goals, and his motivations quickly turned to the FedExCup.
He finished T10 at the 3M Open to jump from 76th to 69th, then tied for seventh at the Wyndham Championship to move to 62nd. That secured his spot in the Playoffs but only guaranteed him this week.
He’s doing his part to try and keep the run going. An eagle and two birdies on his back-nine Saturday narrowly pushed him inside the top-50 projections, though his position is tenuous. Davis is only nine points ahead of No. 51 Mackenzie Hughes. If he were 7 under instead of 8 under, he would project outside the top 50 in the FedExCup standings.
It will likely come down to those slim margins on Sunday afternoon. Currently tied for 12th, Davis entered the week needing a minimum placing of solo-18th to have a shot at advancing. Current TOUR projections show he needs a T15 placing or better.
Started the week: 47th
Currently projected: 51st
Hughes is the odd man out through three rounds with Davis moving in.
It was a mistake-filled Saturday that saw Hughes make a precipitous drop. The Canadian began the day tied for 18th but quickly fell back into position on the bubble with bogeys on three of his first four holes. He got two birdies back before making the turn, but a double-bogey on the 10th and a triple-bogey on the 12th led to a third-round 75.
His chances of playing in the BMW Championship are far from gone. TOUR projections show Hughes is just one stroke from cracking the top 50. He will start the day in a tie for 55th and only needs a solo-53rd or better to climb back in.
If he can make a run early on Sunday morning, that will pressure Nick Hardy and Davis, currently the last two in the top 50, to match. The trio is separated by less than 10 FedExCup points.
Taylor Moore broke through the pack of players at 8 under to start the day, firing a 31 on the front. Despite two bogeys on the back, he spent much of the afternoon tied with Glover for the lead, finishing in solo second and just one back. He is No. 2 in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, No. 2 in Strokes Gained: Total, and No. 3 in Strokes Gained: Approach-to-Green. He is projected to leap all the way from 25th in the FedExCup to No. 6, potentially even higher with a win. Moore picked up his first PGA TOUR victory at this year’s Valspar Championship…Tommy Fleetwood carded his third straight round of 66 to climb all the way up to solo third. A model of consistency this season, his continued strong form projects him to move from 26th to 9th in the FedExCup…Max Homa fired a 65 on Moving Day to put him in contention, three back of Glover. Interestingly enough, a finish of T4 or worse would actually drop him in the FedExCup standings from fourth to fifth…Jordan Spieth had a similar round to Friday, both 68s, where he found himself in tough positions but made the best of it. He sits at T4 and is still projected to move 14 spots up to No. 17, virtually ensuring a ticket to East Lake…Stephan Jaeger carded a 69 Saturday to keep himself in the hunt for a spot in the top 50. The journeyman is projected to jump nine spots to No. 52 and just needs to finish solo 14th or better to earn a spot in the eight Signature Events on next season’s schedule…Jon Rahm fought his way to a second straight 67 on Saturday. He is currently in no danger of losing his No. 1 seed in the FedExCup. Still, if not for that opening round 73, he could easily be in contention this week…Ben Griffin was the last man to sneak in the Playoffs at No. 70 and currently sits T16. He is expected to jump twelve spots to number 58. He would need to finish solo 9th or better to make it to next week and write one of the best stories on TOUR this year.
Cam Davis (No. 62, projected to No. 48): Davis brought his recent hot streak to Memphis as he attempts to continue his season next week in Chicago. But even with two strong opening rounds at the FedEx St. Jude, Davis still found himself outside the top 50 in the projected standings until an eagle on the 16th brought him not only within the top 50 but within striking distance of the lead as he ends Round 3 six behind the leaders. With little legroom to work with, the Australian will have to continue his form with a strong performance on Sunday to further his run into Chicago and ensure his spot in the Signature Events for the 2024 PGA TOUR season.
Mackenzie Hughes (No. 47, projected to No. 51): Hughes was sixth in FedExCup points after his win in the Sanderson Farms Championship. Since then, he’s fallen all the way to 47th and he’s in danger of dipping even further after a disastrous third round that not only dropped the Canadian out of contention but removed him from the coveted top 50.
Nick Hardy (No. 50, projected to No. 50): The University of Illinois alum is holding steady on the bubble. There’s extra pressure on him as a native of the Chicago suburbs who’s trying to return home. Olympia Fields also is where his alma mater hosts its annual college tournament. Hardy had two top-five finishes in the college event on Olympia's North Course during his collegiate days, but he has nowhere to move but forward if he hopes to use some home course knowledge and tee it up in Chicago next week.
Sungjae Im (No. 32, projected No. 24): Coming into this week safely within the top 50 but just outside the realm for this year’s TOUR Championship, the South Korean was looking for some magic to ensure a return to his adopted hometown of Atlanta. A third-round 69 weakened his case, but Im still finds himself in contention at 9 under and within the desired TOUR Championship boundary-line heading into Sunday. He is T6 and with exponentially more points available to the highest finishers, each additional birdie would only strengthen his case for a return to East Lake.
PGATOUR.com content managers Amanda Cashman and Jimmy Reinman contributed to this report.