Back then, Lucas Glover revealed that he was more of a New Yorker at heart than anyone realized. He is from South Carolina and went to Clemson, but has done his share of vacationing in Manhattan. “Tons,” he said Tuesday.
His favorite TV show is quintessentially New York: “Seinfeld.” His greatest golf influence was the late swing coach Dick Harmon of Westchester, who always told Glover he was good enough to win a major championship, which is exactly what happened in the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black on Monday, June 22, 2009.
Back then, Glover acknowledged that he has been a Yankees fan since Little League, when he idolized Don Mattingly. “I liked them when they weren’t so good. I can actually say that,” he also said Tuesday, preparing for The Barclays on the practice tee, which is normally the first hole of Bethpage’s Yellow Course.
Seven years ago, he also had said he is “absolutely not” a patient person — sort of like many of us who get frustrated with the traffic and taxes around here. Still, like the people in the stands that day — some of whom were there on rain checks after the first round was almost a complete washout on Thursday of a soaked week — he hung in there and finished the achievement of his life.
Man, has he had to practice patience ever since. There has been some rough road for Glover since that day on the Black: a divorce, a bad knee injury, stretches where his game deserted him, struggles with his putter. But darned if he is not determined to take the bad with the good, to believe the next shot is going to be better — just like the people who play the Black Course every day.
As odd as it may seem, this week is a homecoming for Glover. “It’s good,” he said. “I haven’t been back since.”
He did not qualify for the FedExCup playoffs in 2012, when the rest of the PGA Tour played Bethpage, because his knee was torn up and his game was frayed (unlike his life, which took a good turn with a remarriage). So Tuesday was the first time he had set foot on the property since the day he left with the Open trophy.
Nor had he set eyes on Bethpage, even in a tape of his course record-tying 64 or anything else in the best week of his professional life. “I haven’t seen it, ever, actually. Maybe I should,” he said with a laugh. “I don’t know. I feel funny looking at myself on TV, more than anything.”
Glover put on quite a show that day, holding off charges by Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and David Duval and shutting out the roars that accompanied them. He made a birdie on 16 to go up by two and held on. He was the toast of the town, receiving many voice mails, including one from Mattingly. “He got wind that he was my favorite guy. It was just something like ‘Congrats.’ It was cool,” Glover said.
Yet golf itself can get really cold. His exemptions ran out last year and he had no choice but to take a step down to the Web.com Tour and earn back his PGA Tour card. He did it and had enough good moments to make the playoffs and to allow himself to dream. He shot 61 in the second round of the Wyndham Championship last week.
It is not secret where his troubles have been: He ranks No. 1 on tour in greens in regulation, fifth in total driving and 140th in strokes gained putting. Maybe the greens on the Black will revive his stroke. As he went to the first tee for a practice round Tuesday with Harris English and Chez Reavie, there was a sense he was heading back to familiar, friendly ground.
He is not superstitious enough to have booked the same hotel as he did back then. “I’ll try to find the same restaurant or something, to get some good vibes going,” he said.
And he knows it will be drier than it was back then. “Unless we’re playing in a pool, I don’t know how it could be much wetter,” he said.
No matter the climate on the course or in life, he can be comfortable here. Glover always will be part of Bethpage, and vice versa.