FARMINGDALE, N.Y. - Not many people thought that Lucas Glover could win the U.S. Open. Heck, even Glover had doubts after sinking a 4-foot par putt yesterday that wrapped up his 2-stroke victory at Bethpage Black.
"I looked over at the scoreboard to make sure it really happened," Glover said.
Well, believe it. Glover, 29, a Clemson graduate who had just one previous victory to show for his six years on the PGA Tour, is the champion of the 109th United States Open, keeping his nerves in check and staying focused amid all the starting and stopping over the last five days because of rain.
Glover ignored the loud support for both Phil Mickelson and David Duval around the storied public course and stared down playing partner Ricky Barnes, who held a 6-stroke advantage over him at one point in the third round. He shot a 3-over-par 73 for a 72-hole score of 4-under 276.
Not a bad accomplishment for someone who went into the week 71st in the World Golf Rankings, whose best finish in 11 previous majors had been a tie for 20th at the 2007 Masters, and who had gone 3 for 3 missing cuts in the Open.
Because of the weather, the Open went to an extra day for only the third time. Had that happened a few years earlier, Glover is the first to admit he would not have had the patience to hang in there.
In fact, Glover finished his 2008 PGA Tour season in early September and put his clubs away for "six or seven weeks," feeling he needed to get away.
"It was the best thing career-wise that I've ever done," he said. "I was not playing well enough to keep playing and feel like I could be happy on the golf course. I was taking it home, and I wasn't myself.
"That was important because when I started practicing again, my expectations were lower, and I had something to work on. That was huge. I did some good work in the off-season, so I felt pretty good."
The patience helped him yesterday, but it came into effect more during Sunday's third round following a stretch on holes 6, 7 and 8 where he went bogey-double bogey-bogey as Barnes pulled away.
"I've had to learn that in the last few years, something I've really worked on," he said. "Two years ago, if that would have happened, no chance I would be sitting here. No chance.
"My attitude's better. If something bad happens, I let it go. I [double bogeyed] the first hole this week. Didn't slam a club. Didn't do anything. Walked over to the second tee and said, 'Hey, it's the U.S. Open. It's going to be a long week.' I wouldn't have done that a couple of years ago."
By the time he finished Sunday night after playing one hole of his final round, Glover was tied for first, going 3-under to Barnes' 3-over in an 11-hole stretch. After two early bogeys cost him the lead, Glover regained the top spot at No. 7 while Barnes was in the middle of four straight bogeys, and he held at least a share of it the rest of the way.
The important hole for Glover was the par-4 16th, which he approached in a three-way tie for the lead with Mickelson, who eagled the 13th, and Duval, who birdied 14, 15 and 16. After a drive in the fairway, Glover struck an 8-iron from 173 yards to eight feet and drained the putt.
"The putt was all you could ask for under pressure, straight and downhill," he said. "I didn't have to do anything but to get it started."
That, combined with bogeys at 17 by Mickelson and Duval, gave Glover a 2-stroke lead with two to play. He saved par at 17 with a 6-foot putt and 2-putted from the fringe on 18 after watching Barnes barely miss a 25-foot birdie try that could have made his 4-footer for par a white-knuckler.
Mickelson, finishing second in the Open for a record fifth time, shot a 70 to tie with Duval (71) and Barnes (76) at 278. England's Ross Fisher was fifth at 279 after a 72.
Tiger Woods, seeking a record-tying fourth Open championship, made things interesting with a birdie at 14 that got him within three of the lead but ultimately ran out of holes. His 69 left him at 280 and in a three-way tie for sixth.
In the end, Glover said the fact that he'd never contended in a major might have been motivation "to prove to myself that I did belong." He definitely showed it yesterday.
"I've had a nice career," he said. "I haven't won many golf tournaments, but I've played well. Obviously, every week you want to win, but nothing's guaranteed. So maybe this will be the springboard. Who knows?"