South Carolina’s pros on PGA Tour hope to match Lucas Glover’s late-season heroics

Lucas Glover went from the brink of losing his PGA Tour playing privileges this time a year ago to a place in the FedEx Cup playoffs two months later.

The out-of-nowhere surge — a streak of a tie for fourth, a tie for sixth, a fifth and two wins — secured him a place in this season’s Signature events.

Glover’s streak brought Yogi Berra’s quip — “It ain’t over ’til it’s over” — into focus and provides hope for his fellow South Carolinians on the Tour that late-season heroics are not impossible.

With the schedule down to six events for the majority of the Palmetto State contingent, only Glover, a Greenville native and Clemson All-American, and Andrew Novak, who grew up in Mount Pleasant and played at Wofford, can look to 2025 assured of spots in professional golf’s major league.

Carson Young (Pendleton/Clemson) and Jacob Bridgeman (Inman/Clemson) are just inside the magic number, 125, that assures full status for the following year. Ben Martin (Greenville/Clemson) and Wesley Bryan (Columbia/USC) are close.

The others need a Glover-like spree. Or, at least, a series for three top-10 finishes like the ones Novak reeled off prior to The Players in March.

The Tour’s revised eligibility rankings create part of the problem. The eight Signature events have limited fields. Add the four majors and opportunities dwindle for many players. Plus, tournaments played opposite the big ones provide fewer FedEx Cup points.

Consider: Playing in the former tournament champion category, Scott Brown (Aiken/USC Aiken), D.J. Trahan (Mount Pleasant/Clemson) and Kyle Stanley (Clemson) have played in only two events. Tommy Gainey (Hartsville) and William McGirt (Bluffton/Wofford) have been limited to three. Jonathan Byrd (Columbia/Clemson) has four starts and Bill Haas (Greenville) five.

Maintaining a competitive edge for high-level competition is challenging, if not impossible, in those circumstances.

Bryan almost struck gold in one of his six opportunities, finishing second. But that’s his only “made cut” and he is at No. 133 in the standings.

Five of South Carolina’s 17 players — Glover, Novak, Young, Martin and Bridgeman — have made the cut in more than half of their events.

Top-10 finishes have been rare; the list includes only Bryan’s second in the Dominican Republic, Martin’s tie for seventh in Texas, Young’s tie for eighth in Mexico and Novak’s streak.

After the U.S. Open, the Tour moves to the Travelers, the final Signature event, and those who qualify will turn their attention to the Open Championship and likely the Scottish Open. The others will scramble for points in six events, starting with the Rocket Mortgage in Detroit on June 27.

Only the top 70 in the FedEx Cup standings qualify for the playoffs that lead to the Tour Championship. The top 125 will have full status for all but the Signature events and majors in 2025, and Nos. 126-150 will have limited status. Finish lower, and playing opportunities diminish quickly.

The standings for South Carolina players prior to the U.S. Open (only Glover is in the field) look like this: Glover 63, Novak 88, Young 113, Bridgeman 121, Martin 126, Bryan 133, Trace Crowe (Greenville) 157, Matt NeSmith (Aiken/USC) 158, Ricky Werenski (Aiken) 192, Haas 195, Kevin Kisner (Aiken) 205, Gainey (206), McGirt 211 and Stanley 226. Brown, Byrd and Trahan have zero FedEx points.

But Glover’s 2023 finish provides a glimmer of hope.

His surge started modestly with a tie for 20th in the RBC Canadian Open, which moved him from 185 to 167. He missed the cut in the Travelers, then in consecutive starts moved to 130 to 110 to 106 to 49 to 5 before settling for 18 after the Tour Championship.

Another run like that? Unlikely. But, as Glover illustrated, not impossible.

Chip shots. Jack Wieler (Bluffton), Chase Cline (Chapin) and Gage Gaskins (Leesville) advanced to final qualifying for the U.S. Amateur in local qualifying at the DeBordieu Club in Georgetown. Final qualifying will be held at 19 sites around the country in late July with the national tournament set for Hazeltine National GC in Chaska, Minnesota in August.