Golden Glover

Well, I told a friend on IM a couple nights ago that it definitely would not be Lucas Glover winning the US Open.  Shows how much I know!  I didn’t get a chance to watch today’s action live because of work, but I did record the NBC portion of the coverage and watched it this evening knowing who would win.  Clearly the difference was 16 and 17.  Glover went birdie-par, Mickelson went par-bogey, Duval went birdie-bogey, and Barnes went par-par.  After 3-putting 15 to fall back into a tie with Mickelson and Duval, Glover hit the kind of iron shot that wins championships on 16 and sank the putt to get back to -4 and no one else could touch that.  He hit the green on 17, which neither Lefty nor Duval could do, and he played 18 very intelligently.  He knew that par definitely won, and that even bogey would unless Barnes birdied, so he played a mid-iron off the tee to take the possibility of a large number off the board by avoiding bunkers and fescue.  He then hit well past the flag and two-putted for the championship.  I’m sure the story is as much about what others did not do, but it should also be about what Glover did do.  In the abstract him shooting a final round 73 looks like he backed into the trophy, but he played the back 9 even par, and that is very solid play in such a pressure situation, especially with the galleries up ahead roaring for other players.

As for Phil Mickelson, he sets the record for being the Alydar of the US Open, coming in 2nd 5 different times (and never winning).  As was the case the other 4 times, he had a chance down the stretch, tho not as clear as the last two times at Shinnecock and Winged Foot where he really blew it.  The bogey at 15 was not really a big deal; that was the hardest hole on the course and Glover also 3-putted it for bogey in the final round.  But the bogey on 17 prevented him from posting a number that would really make Glover sweat on the 72nd tee.  Lucas may’ve hit a more aggressive tee shot knowing he needed par to win outright, and if does that anything is possible.  But it was still a good week for Phil, especially given how his mind has been elsewhere of late.

Where did David Duval come from?  I think everyone just assumed he was 10 years ago’s news and it was well past time for him to leave the game, get a TV gig, or bide his time until the Champions Tour.  But he had a great week.  And in each of the last 3 rounds he faded badly in the front 9 only to bring it back at the end.  Like Mickelson, if he could’ve just parred 17, who knows what happens.  But a great story, and now maybe he can have a 2nd career over the next few years.

Hunter Mahan will definitely be a factor in other majors.  If his 2nd shot doesn’t hit the flagstick on 16 and then carom wildly into the front rough 40 feet away, who knows what happens.  Ross Fisher was the easily forgotten one, being the little-known foreign-born player in the mix late, but this kind of tournament could give him some great confidence heading into his homeland’s Open next month.  He finished 4th in the Accenture Match Play Championships earlier this year, so high finishes are not a fluke for him.  Ricky Barnes will have plenty to ponder.  The 4th player in US Open history to get his score double digits under par (-11 in the middle of the 3rd round) his collapse wasn’t quite as epic as Dr. Gil Morgan’s at Pebble Beach in 1992, but he ended up 9 shots worse to par than his peak.  But, like Glover, tho the final round 76 looks bad, and it is, he deserves credit for a gutty back 9 playing the last 6 holes in -1.  If that putt on 18 drops, and I have no idea why it stopped breaking, Glover might biff that par putt and he’s in a playoff.  He can take a lot from this week.  As for Tiger, he lost by 4 shots.  When he came out Friday morning to finish his 1st round, he played the last 4 holes in +4.  He had a ton of makeable putts just barely miss.  In other words, almost but not meant to be this week.

But, let us not dwell on the other guys too much.  Let us instead congratulate Lucas Glover on his strong play down the stretch to win the 109th US Open!

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