The putter has always been the key for Lucas Glover. When he putts well he’s usually near the top of the leaderboard. When he struggles with the putter, he’s usually hanging around in the middle of the pack.
Unfortunately for Glover, the last time he put together a full season of above average putting was also the last season he won on the PGA Tour: 2011.
But, if he putts it as well on Sunday as he did Saturday at TPC Summerlin he may put an end to that five-year winless streak.
Glover posted a 6-under 65 to take a one-shot lead into the final round of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open over Rod Pampling and Brooks Koepka.
For seven holes Glover looked like the Glover we’ve seen for the past five years with the putter. But that all changed when he got to the 239-yard par-3 8th, and he drained a 43-footer for birdie. That sparked a run of birdie-eagle-par-birdie from Nos. 8-11 and helped push Glover up the leaderboard.
“That 8th hole was kind of the catapult,” Glover said. “I made that long one and two great shots into 9 and turned in 3-under and kept it going. Just speed wasn’t good through seven holes. I hit some good shots, but they weren’t getting to the hole.
“And then on 8 I had a nice uphill one that I could get aggressive with, I mean long way away, I don’t even estimate how far, but it happened to trickle in, and my speed was good the rest of the day. So pleased with that. But we’ve got a shootout ahead of us tomorrow. I like where I stand, but you’re going to have to play good tomorrow.”
Glover has changed to a claw grip on the putter in the past few weeks and the result has so far been positive. It’s a small sample size, but Glover’s -.121 strokes gained putting is the best he’s done in that category since 2011. And he was far better than that on Saturday, posting 2.648 strokes gained putting, and has posted 1.471 strokes gained putting for the week.
“It’s pretty common out here now, but I went to that claw a couple weeks back and just tried to get my shoulders more involved, and I’ve really been working hard, and it’s starting to pay off,” Glover said. “Eighteen holes tomorrow, and see how many we can make because I’m going to have to make some.”
If Glover’s going to earn his first win in five years, he’s going to have hold off Rod Pampling and Brooks Koepka among others. Pampling got his week started with an 11-under 60, but has since struggled to find such a groove.
Koepka looked as if he might head into the final round with a share of the lead after getting to 15 under heading to the 17th hole. But he found the water on 17 and ended up settling for a double-bogey to drop to 13 under. He closed his round with a birdie to get within one of Glover and put himself in good position for Sunday.
“For as bad as we played today, I was kind of happy to be one off the lead,” said Koepka. “But (I) just kind of struggled everywhere. Just a pull draw and everything on 17, and that was kind of the story line to my day.”
Kopek also will have to put a new driver in play Sunday after realizing the one he had in play Saturday was cracked.
Glover, Pampling and Koepka will tee off in the final group at 10:20 a.m. local time Sunday.