Breakthrough victory for Lucas Glover
A voracious reader, Lucas Glover took a moment to scan the names etched on the walls of the U.S. Open trophy.
Talk about a great ending.
From Hagen to Sarazen, Jones to Hogan, Palmer to Trevino and Nicklaus to Woods, Glover couldn’t put the glistening silver chalice down. The last name on the list, improbable as this seemed a week ago, is now his, a permanent tribute for enduring a grueling week at Bethpage Black better than anyone else.
Glover won the 109th U.S. Open on Monday afternoon, one perfectly timed birdie at the par-4 16th helping seal his two-stroke victory over Phil Mickelson, David Duval and Ricky Barnes. Glover finished at 4-under 276 for the long, damp, oft-delayed week, getting just the second win of his career.
“Here I stand,” Glover said.
There he stood, all right.
He was on the right side of the draw, weather-wise, for the first two rounds, opening with a 69 and then shooting a second-round 64 in rare scoring conditions for a U.S. Open. Glover didn’t break par the rest of the way, shooting 70 in the third round and then closing with a 73 on Monday.
It was good enough, and then some.
“I held it together and that’s important,” Glover said. “The patience thing, I’ve been preaching all week to myself and you guys and everybody else here that asked me what I’m feeling, it paid off.”
So many storylines unfolded during the final round of the Open. There was Duval, who started the day ranked No. 882 in the world, looking for his first win in eight years. There was Barnes, who’ll go down in history as the fourth player to reach double-digits below par in the U.S. Open, wasting a huge lead with a bogey barrage that doomed his chances.
And then there was Mickelson, looking for something that would have been pure Hollywood.
He wasn’t even a lock to play at Bethpage Black. Amy Mickelson, his wife, will begin breast cancer treatment next month. Phil Mickelson won’t play any golf for a while, so his wife sent him to this tournament asking for a truly one-of-a-kind vase for her upcoming hospital stay: A big trophy with curved handles and a little statuette on top.
Lefty almost pulled it off, too. He tied Glover for the lead after an eagle at the par-5 13th, but two bogeys coming in left Mickelson tied for second at the U.S. Open for a record fifth time.
“I think maybe it’s more in perspective for me, because I feel different this time,” Mickelson said. “I don’t know where to go with this, because I want to win this tournament badly.”
A family vacation awaited Mickelson, some badly needed rest and relaxation before Amy Mickelson begins cancer treatment July 1. But first, Mickelson needed to greet his people—hundreds of them, autograph-seekers in the parking lot chanting “Phil! Phil! Phil!” as the world’s No. 2 player signed whatever they wanted for about a half-hour.
Police officers, state troopers and security guards—many of them armed— tried to form a wall to stop the hordes from getting to Mickelson. On the fourth try, they finally got him to his car, where Mickelson then signed autographs for them.
“There’s some more important things going on,” Mickelson said.
Duval thought so, too.
He was the Comeback Kid this week, surviving spats of big trouble in nearly every round, especially Monday when a triple-bogey and a mudball on the front side sent him spiraling downward.
Duval rallied every time, nearly stealing the trophy out of Glover’s grasp. It was his first top 10 since 2002, netting a check for $559,830 that nearly matched what he’s made in the last five years combined.
“It’s very difficult to sit here and say second place is a failure,” said Duval, who led the field with 19 birdies. “It is very much a success. It’s not quite the success I had looked forward to this week and had hoped for, and in some way expected. But success, nonetheless.”
Tiger Woods was 15 shots back in the third round on Sunday. Somehow, he found himself bidding for major No. 15 on Monday.
It didn’t happen, and for the first time in five years, he isn’t the reigning champion at any of the majors.
He was four shots back with four holes to play after a birdie at No. 14, and the ‘Can he do this?’ chatter ended quickly from there. Woods hit a 5-iron over the 15th green to make bogey, and had to settle for a 69 that left him in a tie for sixth, four shots back of Glover.
“I striped it this week,” Woods said. “I hit it just like I did at Memorial, and unfortunately, I didn’t make anything.”
Glover only made one big putt, and that was enough.
He’s got an everyman vibe, a tobacco-chewing, Sinatra-listening 29-year-old from South Carolina who says he tries to be nice to everyone so they can be nice to him. His only win, until now, came when he holed out a bunker shot on the final hole at Disney nearly five years ago.
Glover hit two perfect shots into No. 16 on Monday, then made the birdie that came almost at the same instant Duval made bogey at the par-3 17th, the two-shot swing that proved to be the difference.
An hour later, the trophy was his.
“I hope I don’t downgrade it or anything with my name on there,” Glover quipped. “It’s an honor, and I’m just excited and happy as I can be to be on here.”
June 24, 2009