Glover wins in tight US Open finish

BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2009 US Open | Round Four | 23 Jun 2009

Lucas Glover is the 2009 US Open Champion after holding off his own final round struggles and challenges from Phil Mickelson, David Duval, Ross Fisher, Ricky Barnes and the perhaps unlucky Tiger Woods.

Glover won by two over Rick Barnes, Phil Mickelson and David Duval with Ross Fisher one shot further back and alone in 5th.

Glover’s form in 2009 has been solid including when runner up at the Quail Hollow Championship and third at the Buick Invitational on fine golf courses and against strong fields, but leading into this event there would have be few who predicted such a result was possible. Glover saw it a little differently.

“Well, this week, I think it makes me 1-for-4 on cuts made at the Open,” said Glover. “But I’ve been driving it well. And I think that’s why I played well at those two events. (Torrey Pines and Quail Hollow) and especially this week. I drove it probably the best I’ve ever driven it in the first three rounds here. Not so much today. I think nerves had a little effect on my rhythm, and I didn’t hit very many shots where I was looking or the shape I was trying to hit them.”

But that being said, those two weeks, Torrey and Quail, were good experiences because they were hard golf courses, but, again, driving it was a key at all three. And it gave me a little confidence that I had played well on those hard courses.

In three previous visits to the US Open, Glover had missed the cut on each occasion but this was a tournament which had been turned on its head early on Thursday when those faced with a morning draw headed out to face the elements.

Play was called off mid morning on that opening day but by then many of the leading chances in the event had already fallen behind the eight ball. They would return to complete their rounds on Friday morning and the watch, as those who had been schedule to play in the afternoon on day one, had the benefit of perfect conditions to play their first rounds on Friday and then complete much of their second rounds in those same perfect conditions.

The weather would again impact those in the day one early draw on Saturday when they played their second rounds and while this can be put down to just being the ins and outs of tournament golf, the leaderboard at the end of 72 holes tells the story of the impact that the draw had on this event. Of the leading eight players at the completion of 72 holes, only Tiger Woods was from the morning field on day one, highlighting that he may well have been unlucky to not get a run at the leaders earlier.

Many of the pre tournament favourites were impacted in the roll of the weather dice but it is one thing to get a break and another thing to take advantage. Glover was able to just that.

Trailing by one leading into the final round late on Sunday, Glover joined the lead when Ricky Barnes bogeyed the first hole and when play was halted for darkness soon after it was Barnes and Glover who slept on a share of a five shot US Open lead.

When they returned on Monday morning Barnes was able to make a very good par save at the second hole and regained the lead when Glover bogeyed the third before both began to struggle with the expectations of what was at stake and a golf course toughened by its set up and a breeze which made precise distance control a little more difficult.

Barnes dropped six shots between the 5th and the 12th and at that point he was at 1 under and had fallen three behind Glover and Mickelson. Mickelson worked his way into a share of the lead with a brilliant 40 foot putt at the 12th followed by an iron from 225 yards at the 13th to four feet to set up an eagle. That took him to 4 under and he shared the lead with Glover.

At that point it appeared as if the Mickelson fairytale of winning against all odds would be realised but when he three putted from the back edge of the 15th, Glover led on his own. One hole later they were tied again after Glover also three putted the 15th but they had been joined in the lead by David Duval who, when he holed from 10 feet at the 16th, had recovered from the triple bogey he had encountered when starting his day.

England’s Ross Fisher had his moments also moving to three under when he eagled the 13th after a magnificent approach to 5 feet. Like many others he would bogey the 15th after missing the fairway and although he had a chance to rejoin the lead at the 16th he missed and then three putted the 17th. His brave bid to become the first British winner of this event in 39 years was gone.

The shot that was perhaps Glover’s most crucial over the dying stages of the event was the 8 iron he hit to 4 feet and the resultant birdie moved him to 4 under and one ahead of Duval and two ahead of Mickelson, Barnes and Fisher. Mickelson hit the wrong club to the 17th and a few minutes later so too did Duval. It cost them both a bogey and perhaps the chance of applying the ultimate final pressure to Glover.

Glover then had the luxury of a two shot lead playing the final two holes and was able to par the 17th after his 4 iron found the front edge and two putted. Leading by two over his playing partner Barnes as he stood on the 72nd tee, Glover took just a mid iron from the tee and found the right half of the fairway. With a front pin and a helping breeze, hitting a full second shot was a much better option than trying to negotiate a short pitch in the pressure cooker he was facing.

Glover finished well behind the hole with his approach and putted down to three feet. When Barnes, who was the only one left who could affect the outcome, narrowly missed a 25 foot putt he was able to hole his par saving three footer and the title was his.

Despite the fact that many of the more fancied chances at the beginning of the week were not contenders late in the event, the Championship provided many great stories. Glover’s first major win against predictions, the great run under the most difficult conditions by Phil Mickelson, David Duval’s amazing return to contention in such a difficult tournament, Ricky Barnes’ lost opportunity and Ross Fisher’s elevation in world status to name just a few.

The win has moved Glover from outside the top 70 to world number 18 and while many others in the field will be wishing the weatherman had been kinder to them it will matter not to the 29-year-old from Greenville, South Carolina. He has won the most significant event in golf to an American.

“My expectations were high for me and for myself,” added Glover. "But there’s nothing guaranteed in this game. We all know that. There’s the early bloomers and the late bloomer and then there’s the always bloomers in Tiger’s case

“But I don’t know, I’ve had a nice career. I haven’t won many golf tournaments, but I’ve played well. I’ve been out here; this is my sixth year on the TOUR and played in a bunch of majors and a bunch of World Golf Championships. And obviously every week you want to win, but nothing’s guaranteed.”

“So maybe this will be the springboard; maybe it will be it. Who knows.”

Of the twelve strong Australasian contingent who started the week, only three would survive all four rounds. The man who did the best was the US Open debutant from Western Australia Michael Sim. Sim finished 18th and takes back to the Nationwide Tour he has dominated this season an even greater self belief.

It was an impressive debut especially given that he played with Tiger Woods in round four. That would have been both scary and exciting but he will emerge even better for it knowing that he handled the situation well. The US$100,000 he earned as not bad either.

Adam Scott played better than many felt he would coming into the event finishing 36th while Geoff Ogilvy finished well back in 47th position.

The PGA Tour now moves to Hartford for this week’s Travelers Championship.

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Position Score Player Country R1 R2 R3 R4 Total
1   ↑2 -4 Lucas Glover United States 69 64 70 73 276
T2   ↑T3 -2 David Duval United States 67 70 70 71 278
T2   ↑T5 -2 Phil Mickelson United States 69 70 69 70 278
T2   ↓1 -2 Ricky Barnes United States 67 65 70 76 278
5   ↓T3 -1 Ross Fisher England 70 68 69 72 279
T6   ↓T5 Ev Hunter Mahan United States 72 68 68 72 280
T6   ↑T15 Ev Soren Hansen Denmark 70 71 70 69 280
T6   ↑T15 Ev Tiger Woods United States 74 69 68 69 280
9   ↑T25 +1 Henrik Stenson Sweden 73 70 70 68 281
T10   ↑T25 +2 Matt Bettencourt United States 75 67 71 69 282
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    About the Author: Bruce Young

    A multi-award winning golf journalist, Bruce's extensive knowledge of the game comes from several years caddying the tournament circuits of the world, marketing a successful golf course design company and as one of Australia's leading golf journalists and commentators.


    Read all of Bruce's articles »

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