Glover’s Paradise

The US Open delivered so many great and poignant stories that, for not more than a moment, one may forget the best one of all – Lucas Glover’s emergence as a golf major winner.

There was Tiger Woods – always a story no matter what, Phil Mickelson’s brave performance in the face of adversity and the return of David Duval to near the top of a leaderboard.

We may even include Ricky Barnes’ final round collapse, though we would rather remember his amazing first three rounds.

But the real tale was that of Glover, a qualifier for the tournament who held on to win his first-ever major title and leap into the top 20 of the world rankings.

Glover closed with a 73 for a four-under-par total of 276 at Bethpage Black. That was two strokes better than Mickelson, Duval and Barnes.

Glover’s opening two rounds of 64 and 69, after overcoming rain that pushed the tournament into a fifth day, put him in a good position for the final two rounds in which he didn’t have to break par to win.

His name is now on the famous trophy along with the likes of Woods, Gene Sarazen, Bobby Jones and Jack Nicklaus, among others. Showing humility, Glover was wondering whether or not he deserved to be alongside such luminaries. He told media:

“I hope I don’t downgrade it or anything with my name on there. It’s an honor, and I’m just excited and happy as I can be to be on here. I held it together and that’s important. 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.”

World number one Woods, looking for his 15th major title, had gone into the tournament on a high following his victory at the Memorial a fortnight prior. However, an opening 74 left many wondering if he would even make the cut.

But it true fighting style, he recovered to shoot three sub-par rounds to finish tied for sixth on 280. Indeed, Woods, for what it is worth, would have been champion had only the last three rounds counted. Now, though, for the first time in five years, Woods is not a defending major champion.

Mickelson’s second place was nothing if not inspiring. Lefty had only recently returned to the US PGA Tour after taking time off to be with his wife Amy, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

He was the only player to register under-par scores in all four rounds. At one time, he was tied with Glover for the lead, after the 13th hole on Monday. But two bogeys prevented him from sustaining that challenge. He said:

“I think maybe it’s more in perspective for me, because I feel different this time. I don’t know where to go with this, because I want to win this tournament badly.”

Former British Open champion David Duval was delighted with his joint second after three sub-par rounds and a 71. Though he would have loved to win, a first top 10 finish since 2002 is something to celebrate. He said:

“It’s very difficult to sit here and say second place is a failure. 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.”

And then there was Barnes. Like Glover, he was a relative unknown who quickly made himself the man to beat with rounds of 67, 65 and 70. However, a 76 on the final day meant he was unable to challenge for the top prize.

Glover may not have been the winner everybody wanted but there is no doubt he fully deserves it. Champions are separated from others not only by their ability to shoot low scores but also by being able to handle the pressure when it comes to the crunch. And Glover proved he was up to the task.

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