GREENSBORO, N.C. — Lucas Glover looked to the sky and held back tears after winning the Wyndham Championship on Sunday, sending him to the PGA Tour postseason with more opportunities ahead of him.
Justin Thomas fell to the ground, stunned that his birdie chip hit the base of the pin and stayed out, leaving him out of the FedEx Cup playoffs by about the same small margin that kept his ball out of the cup.
Such were the range of emotions at Sedgefield, the final tournament before the lucrative postseason for the top 70 players.
Glover is one of them, closing with a 2-under 68 for a two-shot victory over a faltering Russell Henley and Byeong Hun An. He started the week at No. 112, and the victory — his first in two years — moved him to No. 49. Another good week in Memphis, Tennessee, would set him up for the all the signature $20 million events next year. The timing couldn’t have been better for the 43-year-old Glover. Sunday would have been the birthday of his late grandfather, who got him into the game and sent him to the late Dick Harmon to hone the skills of a future U.S. Open champion.
“Tried not to think about it too much until the end there,” Glover said. “Like to think I had a leg up on everybody today because of that. Still had to do what I had to do.”
What he did was keep his poise amid a two-hour storm delay when he had four holes left and was locked in a battle with Henley. Glover finished with four pars, getting one good break when his tee shot on the 18th bounced off a cart driven by security and went into the rough, keeping it out of the trees.
Thomas needed one more birdie to get into the top 70. His birdie chip checked and hopped against the base of the pin and stayed out. Standing at the back of the green, he saw a video board project him at No. 71. He missed by nine FedEx Cup points.
Now he has to wait three weeks to see if his worst season — this is the first time Thomas has failed to make the playoffs — will cost him a pick for the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
“I did everything I could,” Thomas said when he finished. “I don’t want my season to be over.”
Glover now has five PGA Tour wins separated by 18 years, and there might not have been another except for deciding to switch to a long putter, a move inspired by Adam Scott. He had been battling the yips, and he made every important putt at Sedgefield Country Club.
It was the second time in three years that Henley let one get away at Sedgefield. When play resumed, he took the lead with a two-putt birdie on the par-5 15th, and then everything went wrong in a bogey-bogey-bogey finish.
His mediocre tee shot on the par-3 16th came down the slope at the front of the green and took one more turn into a deep divot hole. He chopped that out to 35 feet and made bogey. He sent his tee shot on the 17th into the trees, and his next shot buried in a deep hole in thick rough. He had to scramble for bogey. He shot 69.
“Just never got comfortable, felt a little jittery out there, just never got into a good sync with my swing,” Henley said. “Just didn’t do a good job of handling the restart.”
Henley tied for second with An (67). Billy Horschel, who shared the 54-hole lead with Glover, didn’t make a birdie until the final hole. He shot 72 and finished alone in fourth.
Winning is what mattered more to Glover, especially having his two children, Lucille and Lucas Jr., come out to the green. “Daddy, you won!” the son said. His daughter was in tears.
“I’m too old to be on the road this much,” Glover said. “I’ve been busting my hump to be with them, be with my wife. I’m so happy.”
Thomas made a 15-foot eagle putt on the 15th hole, only to catch a strong gust as storms were moving in on the par-3 16th, sending his ball down the hill and leading to bogey. He looked to be in big trouble on the 18th when he pulled his tee shot onto the pine straw, blocked by trees. But he hit a hard hook, twisting his body 180 degrees on impact, just short of the green.
The pitch took a few hops and looked like it would disappear into the hole until the base of the pin kept it out. He had to settle for a 68 and a long three weeks of waiting.
Zach Johnson gets six captain’s picks, and the question is whether Thomas has done enough in his two previous Ryder Cup appearances — or showed enough in one week — to merit a pick.
The 70th and final spot went to Ben Griffin, who missed the cut. He finished nine points ahead of Thomas. Scott closed with a 63 and missed the postseason for the first time since the FedEx Cup began in 2007.
That leaves Matt Kuchar as the only player eligible for the playoffs every year since 2007.