Glover No Longer Living In Anonymity
By Phillip Howley
Chaska, Minn. - Lucas Glover has run into a problem since he won the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black nearly two months ago. But there is a catch.
“It’s a good problem to have,” he said with a smile.
Lucas Glover's U.S. Open victory in June has raised the stakes for him at the PGA Championship, set to begin Thursday. (John Mummert/USGA)
Glover’s problem is that he no longer goes about his business anonymously or unimpeded. He no longer walks across parking lots, in and out of golf clubs, without being noticed. His time is no longer entirely his own.
"You get over it a little bit on the golf course," said Glover. "Off the golf course, of course there's still a little bit going on."
Since Glover emerged from the rain forest that was Bethpage State Park in June, carrying the U.S. Open trophy with him, he has been surrounded by the trappings that come with winning a major championship. Relatively unknown before prevailing on the Black Course, Glover is now a big fish in the corporate-outing pond, a marketable name, a member of golf’s invitational “A list.”
Being discovered has been good for the wallet, the frequent-flyer account and, of course, the ego. And it has been beneficial to the golf game -- mostly.
In the weeks immediately following the U.S. Open, he had a tie for 11th at the Travelers Championship and a tie for fifth at the AT&T National.
But the attention and distractions can have a residual effect. Glover tied for 66th after two rounds at the John Deere, missing the weekend, then had an early dismissal at the British Open after rounds of 72 and 77. He bounced back with three good rounds at Firestone Country Club last week, before finishing with a 73 and in a tie for 19th at the Bridgestone Invitational.
Now Glover comes to Hazeltine National Golf Club, site of eight previous USGA championships (including two U.S. Opens, 1970 and 1991), hoping to regroup, refocus and reinforce his breakthrough season with another memorable week. To do so, he must put the distractions aside, something he is learning to do.
“I think it comes with the territory and I think you learn, like anything else,” said Glover, 29. “You gain experience playing golf and you've gained the experience off the golf course if that happens.”
To that end, the experience at Bethpage was invaluable. Glover took the lead during the extended final round on Monday, played with the lead down the stretch, and while his closing score of 73 seems ordinary, he punctuated the round with poise and resilience.
As a result, the Greenville, S.C., native no longer wonders “if” he can win but “when” his next opportunity will come.
“I played well the two weeks directly after the Open, and if I'm playing well, yeah, I think I can do well,” said Glover, whose only PGA Tour victory before the U.S. Open was the 2005 Funai Classic at Walt Disney World Resort. “But from now on it's just getting back into contention, because that's hard enough.”
At 7,600-plus yards, Hazeltine figures to be a long and winding road for 98 of the top 100 players in the world ranking. “That’s just kind of the fad today,” said Jim Furyk, the 2003 U.S. Open champion. “Longer, longer, longer is better. That being said, the best hole on the golf course is the second shortest par 4 [No. 16] on the course.”
Glover, whose solid, accurate driver was an advantage at Bethpage, can hold his own distance-wise. If the former Clemson standout can manufacture a good start at Hazeltine, such as the 69-64 jump he enjoyed at the U.S. Open, the big Minnesota sky is the limit.
“I feel good about how I handled myself at Bethpage, so if I get there I feel like I'll know what to do,” he said.
Naturally, every time someone new comes along to win a major championship, observers want to proclaim that golf has a new rival to its No. 1 component, Tiger Woods. Glover is confident, not delusional. He puts a governor on “rival” talk.
“I got paired with him at AT&T two weeks after [the U.S. Open],” Glover said. “He beat my brains in for two days. So, I think he's still got me.”
He may not be on a par with Woods just yet, but for Glover, the U.S. Open championship was a start.
Phillip Howley is a freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA championship sites and www.usga.org.