Glover good enough for U.S. Open title

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Ron Green Jr.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
— It has been more than three years since Dick Harmon, the guardian of Lucas Glover’s golf game and a once in a lifetime friend, died.

Not a day goes by that Glover doesn’t think about Harmon, who was a member of the renowned Harmon clan of golf instructors.

Through five long, wet and sometimes agonizing days in the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, Glover kept his mind focused on simple tasks—pick a target, drive it in the fairway and be patient.

Deep inside, beneath the cap pulled low on his head and behind the stoic expression, Glover remembered what Harmon told him more than once.

“He always told me I was good enough,” Glover said Monday afternoon, his words soft and his eyes glistening.

The U.S. Open trophy sat on a table beside Glover, waiting to have the 29-year-old former Clemson golfer’s name engraved on it alongside those of Jones, Nelson, Nicklaus, Palmer and Woods.

It wasn’t always pretty and there was nothing easy about it, but Glover emerged Monday with the championship, piecing together a final-round 73 that earned him a two-stroke victory over perennial runner-up Phil Mickelson, David Duval and third-round leader Ricky Barnes.

On a day that finally added electricity to what had been a damp, disjointed championship, Glover essentially won the tournament with a 6-foot birdie on the par-4 16th hole, separating himself from Mickelson and Duval, whose roars of support echoed across the muddy property throughout the final round.

Solid pars on the two closing holes made it official, transforming Glover’s career. In six years on the PGA Tour, the Greenville, S.C., resident had won just once—holing a bunker shot on the 72nd hole to win the Funai Classic at Walt Disney World in 2005.

In the interim, Glover had become his own harshest critic. Having crumpled under his self-imposed goal of making the 2006 Ryder Cup team, Glover had grown increasingly frustrated by his inability to succeed at the level he set for himself.

Frustrated and ornery, Glover stepped away from golf late last year, playing just two outings the final three months of the year.

“It wasn’t so much the golf, but he was taking it home and putting it on everyone else,” Dr. Morris Pickens, Glover’s sports psychologist, said Monday afternoon. “He just needed to make it better.”

For three months, Glover made nice with his wife, Jennifer. They took vacations together. He fished. He relaxed.

“I did whatever I wanted,” Glover said.

Early Monday afternoon, Glover walked off the 18th green at Bethpage and hugged his wife, squeezing her so hard his face turned red.

Glover has been different this year. He finished tied for third at the Buick Invitational in February and then hung tough on a Sunday while playing in the final pairing at the Quail Hollow Championship, where he tied for second.

Those two Sundays reminded Glover he could handle final rounds, which had turned into demons for him.

He excels on courses that demand long, accurate driving and Glover knew from his experience in the 2002 U.S. Open that Bethpage Black fit him beautifully. For three days here, he hit the ball as well as he ever had, he said.

On Monday, with nerves kicking in, Glover didn’t have the same rhythm, but he had patience, something that has often been lacking.

When he double-bogeyed the first hole of the championship, Glover didn’t get mad. In fact, it might have relaxed him, he said.

When his game got shaky on this past Sunday after a bogey, double-bogey stretch, he righted himself.

“Two years ago, if yesterday happened, there’s no chance I’m sitting here. No chance. I learned to let it go,” Glover said.

Throughout the championship, Glover went about his business, head down, focus narrowed.

While Mickelson’s emotional quest owned the gallery and Duval’s re-emergence on the grand stage siphoned attention from Glover, he seemed not to care.

Being escorted from the Bethpage clubhouse to the trophy presentation Monday afternoon, Glover spotted his agent, Mac Barnhardt, on the back porch.

The new U.S. Open champion looked up from beneath his cap, smiled and stuck his tongue out at Barnhardt.

On a long, wet U.S. Open week, Lucas Glover was good enough.

Last updated: 10:36 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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