Performing under pressure: The 2019 PGA Championship brings American Lucas Glover back to the scene of his 2009 US Open triumph, Bethpage Black on Long Island
Bethpage (United States) (AFP) - Unheralded US golfer Lucas Glover held off late charges by Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson to win a US Open title 10 years ago at rain-softened Bethpage Black.
Now Glover is back, heavy rains have returned, Woods is on form again after winning last month’s Masters and another major title is on offer at Bethpage Black in this week’s PGA Championship.
“That might be the only thing that anybody will ever use he and I’s name in the same breath, but any time you’re lumped in with him, it’s a pretty big honor,” Glover said Monday.
Glover held off Woods, who shared sixth after a 2002 US Open win at Bethpage, and Phil Mickelson, who shared second, to win the 2009 US Open, the swamped Long Island public course barely made playable for a Monday finish.
“It would be naive to sit up here and say I didn’t think he and Phil and those guys were going to make a run,” Glover said. “I knew it was coming. The biggest thing for me was I executed under the gun with all that going on, knowing they were coming, and I held them off. It might not have been the prettiest, but it was when it had to be.”
While Woods battled knee and back injuries for most of the past decade, ending an 11-year major win drought last month at Augusta National, Glover struggled to keep his spot on the US PGA Tour, his lone win since Bethpage coming in 2011 at Quail Hollow.
“I don’t think there’s been anybody to play this game that hasn’t been fried at one point or another,” Glover said, citing family issues and a knee injury as reasons why his game has suffered.
“The way I’m looking at the last few years is I’ve come out the other side. I haven’t won, I haven’t accomplished any of my goals, but I’ve come through it,” he said. “The things you learn in the hard times make the good times better.”
Seeing Woods make his comeback had Glover crying, knowing how hard a fightback can be.
“I got a little teary-eyed, I’ll be honest,” Glover said. “I know what it meant to him just from reading it. I want my kids to see the Tiger that’s a winner and that was pretty special. Pretty good for him, pretty good for his family,and amazing for golf.”
Glover’s fourth-place showing in March at the Honda Classic was his own hopeful sign and his best showing this season.
“That was like a big moment,” he said. “I made two putts on the last couple holes, and to me right then that was a big thing because it tied me for the lead, and I hadn’t done that in a long, long time.”
- Executing under pressure -
And Glover hasn’t forgotten the feeling out outdueling Woods and Mickelson a decade ago.
“I’m in every way a different person than 10 years ago, but I can still lean on all of that,” Glover said.
“Biggest thing I took from that personally was executing under that pressure. I was able to do that, and that was the best feeling after.”
Glover, ranked 83rd in the world, sees soft greens as an edge for shotmakers once they find the fairway.
“With it soft like this, it will be a lot of advantage if you’re striking your irons well,” he said. “The ball just kind of goes where you hit it. You get extra rewarded for a good shot, and a bad shot is kind of still bad. So still fair.”