J.J. Spaun leads FedEx Cup Championship; Cameron Smith lurking 2 shots back

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — J.J. Spaun did simply sufficient proper on the finish to trend a 2-under 68 and hold his 1-shot lead Saturday within the FedEx St. Jude Championship with a well-recognized identify lurking.

At stake for Cameron Smith is No. 1 on the earth.

Already having fun with a banner 12 months along with his first main on the Open Championship, and underneath heavy scrutiny for stories that hes headed to Saudi-funded LIV Golf, Smith birdied his final gap for a 67. That left him 2 pictures behind and totally conscious a victory strikes him to No. 1 on the earth.

That is been considered one of my targets most likely because the begin of the 12 months is to attempt to get to that high spot, Smith stated. Attempt to chase it down.

The chase will begin out in a site visitors jam.

Spaun had a two-putt birdie on the par-5 sixteenth and holed an 18-foot birdie putt on the following gap to say the 54-hole lead at 13-under 197.

Sepp Straka was proper there with him till he failed to avoid wasting par from the bunker on the 18th for a 68 that left him a shot behind. Each are first-time winners on the PGA Tour this 12 months, and a victory in a FedEx Cup playoffs carries much more weight — $2.7 million to the winner and a assured spot at East Lake for the FedEx Cup finale.

Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, the No. 1 participant on the earth and within the FedEx Cup since March, missed the minimize. That paves the way in which for Smith, whose three wins this 12 months embrace the Gamers Championship, to achieve No. 1 if he had been to win.

Will Zalatoris is simply as hungry, for various causes. Zalatoris has been a troublesome buyer within the majors, dropping in a playoff on the PGA Championship and ending a shot again within the U.S. Open. Hes No. 14 on the earth. And he has but to win on the PGA Tour.

Zalatoris opened with a 71 that put him in such a gap that even his fiancée needed to know their plans if he did not make it to the weekend.

I advised her, Lets cross that bridge after we get there, Zalatoris stated with a smile. He determined to let his new caddie, Joel Inventory, learn putts of their second official spherical collectively. Zalatoris shot a 63 and adopted with a 65 on Saturday.

He additionally was 2 behind, together with Trey Mullinax (66).

As for the chase to the following playoff occasion, think about Tyler Duncan. Hes No. 118 within the FedEx Cup, and solely the highest 70 transfer on to the BMW Championship subsequent week in Delaware. Duncan had a 67 and was tied for sixth. He was 3 behind, and even when he would not win, he can transfer on if he can maintain his place.

That will not be simple with so many gamers within the combine — 16 gamers separated by 4 pictures. That group contains Sam Burns and Tony Finau. A winner in his previous two begins, Finau ended his streak of 11 consecutive rounds at 68 or decrease. He made a bogey on the final gap to offer him a 69, leaving him 4 pictures behind.

Nobody stands out like Smith, for therefore many causes. Not solely is it his first begin since being launched at St. Andrews because the champion golfer of the 12 months, the Telegraph of London reported Tuesday that he had signed with LIV and would be a part of the defectors exterior Boston after the Tour Championship is over.

Smith has steadfastly refused to speak about it, saying he is considering solely of the FedEx Cup.

I am a person of my phrase and everytime you guys have to know something, its going to be stated by me, Smith stated Tuesday. That was shortly earlier than a California federal decide denied a request by three LIV golfers to play within the FedEx Cup playoffs.

Distractions arent a problem, and theres no scarcity of them.

Theres positively been a couple of extra, however for me, I am simply making an attempt to hit the most effective shot I can, Smith stated. That is what I am right here to do is to hit good golf pictures and make birdies.

The Related Press contributed to this story.

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