FARMINGDALE, N.Y. - Lucas Glover is 29 years old. He went to Clemson, where his grandfather, Dick Hendley, starred in both football and baseball and is a member of the school's Athletic Hall of Fame. Glover played in the 2001 Walker Cup and 2007 Presidents Cup.
An avid reader, particularly when it comes to murder mysteries ("They're like TV. You can get through them in a day"), he's into most kinds of music, even classical. A Yankees fan ("Before they were good"), his favorite player remains Don Mattingly. Last season, his world ranking dropped to No. 178. He only played in one major, and didn't play in any tournaments after early September. Before yesterday he had won once on the PGA Tour. It was 4 years ago, at Disney World.
Well, in his 11 previous majors he had never finished higher than 20th (2007 Masters). And in three prior U.S. Opens, he never made the cut.
So why were they handing him the trophy at Bethpage Black, on the overcast fifth day of a national championship that figures to forever be remembered more for the weather than the actual golf?
Glover began the last 16 1/2 holes of the delayed fourth round tied with Ricky Barnes at 7-under par, five shots clear of everyone else. He closed with a 73 that included even-par on the back nine and all of one birdie overall. It came at the 16th, when he was coming off a bogey. That put him in front for good, and he parred in from there - getting up and down from just off the green at 17 - to finish at 4-under 276, two in front of Barnes (76), David Duval (71) and Phil Mickelson (70), who had eagled the par-5 14th to get to 4-under himself before giving one back at both 15 (three-putt) and 17.
"It's an honor to be on the trophy, beside all those [historic] names," Glover said. "I hope I don't downgrade it or anything. I'm just being honest.
"There's nothing guaranteed in this game. We all know that. There's early bloomers, late bloomers, always bloomers, in Tiger's case. Obviously, you want to win every week. Maybe this will be a springboard. Maybe it'll be it. Who knows?
"It's what you dream about as a kid. Here I stand."
The $1.35 million he earned is a little more than his total from his other 14 starts this year. He did have a third in early February and a second in early May. This is a life-changer. And he says the time he took off at the end of 2008 has made the difference.
"I had to figure out why I got the way I got," explained Glover, who opened with a 69, then followed with 64, one off the record for any major, and 70. "I had a bad attitude, when things weren't going right. My expectations were through the roof, and I wasn't getting results. But I was working just as hard. It was the best thing careerwise I ever did. I took things hard. I wasn't myself. So I took 6, 7 weeks off. When I started practicing again, my expectations were lower. I was fresh.
"I had a double [bogey] on the first hole [here]. If I had done that a couple of years ago, there's no chance I'd be sitting here. No chance. Now, I just went to the next tee."
Barnes, whose 36-hole 132 broke the Open record, became the fourth man to get to 10-under par in this major. In fact, he reached 11 midway through the third round. But the 2002 U.S. Amateur champ, who's now ranked 882, couldn't keep his swing together. Still, he birdied No. 13 to at least give himself a chance, then finished with six pars, nearly holing a long birdie attempt at 18.
Duval, the 2001 British Open champ and former No. 1, is ranked 519. He looked as if he was out of it, especially after he triple-bogeyed the par-3 No. 3. That was before he went bird-bird-bird at 14-15-16. A bogey at 17 derailed his bid.
Mickelson, of course, would have had these crowds on his side even if his wife Amy weren't back in Southern California getting ready to undergo treatments for breast cancer. It seemed like too much to ask, except there he was, with four holes left, in position to make it happen. But it didn't. And so, for the record fifth time at an Open and fourth straight time at a New York Open, he had to settle for second.
England's Ross Fisher (72) was next, at 279, followed by a threesome at 280 that included defending champion Tiger Woods (69), who also won here 7 years ago. He played the last four holes of his first round in 4-over, and was playing catch-up the rest of the way.
"That's just the way it is," he said. "I had a chance today. I gave myself so many chances and made nothing [on the greens]."
He got to 1-under with a bird at 14, but gave it right back with a bogey on the next hole. Three pars coming in weren't getting it done.
Instead, the moment went to someone else. Someone on few radar screens. That, of course, has changed.
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous," Glover said. "I don't know what [this means] yet. I get to play in some cool tournaments for a while.
"I hit some shots today I had to hit, in situations. That's gratifying. I took a lot of deep breaths. There's no swing thoughts under pressure. Too much going on. I've never been there in a major. Maybe that was motivation for me, to prove it to myself that I did belong. It doesn't matter [what others may think].
"I'm happy with myself."
When asked about his relationship with renowned instructor Dick Harmon, who taught Glover as a youngster and died a few years ago, he nearly lost it.
Finally, Glover replied, "He always told me I was good enough."
Anything else? *