CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Lucas Glover already has been through a lot this year, even if the calendar shows the first week in May.
He injured his left knee when he slipped off a paddle board in the Pacific Ocean the weekend before the season opener in Kapalua, and it wound up keeping him out of golf until the middle of March. Then, he suffered a rib injury at the Masters Tournament, but played through it the next week at Hilton Head, the only PGA Tour event in his native South Carolina.
He is the defending champion at the Wells Fargo Championship and it will be only his sixth tournament this year.
“I think any time you come somewhere you’ve had success, it gives you that little bit of confidence – even if it’s been a strange year for you,” he said.
The paddle board incident was a fluke fall, and Glover didn’t grasp how serious it was. He went to the practice range the next week in Honolulu thinking he might be able to play and walk on a flat golf course. He didn’t realize he would be out two months.
More peculiar was the rib injury.
“If it had been any other week but Augusta, I don’t think I would have played,” he said. “But it’s pretty hard to withdraw from that one, so I played through it, and just got it fixed and feel pretty good.”
FOSTER OUT: Lee Westwood is in good form coming into the next two majors. Now he needs a caddie.
Westwood arrived at Quail Hollow on Tuesday to learn that his caddie, Billy Foster, blew out his right knee while reaching to kick a soccer ball. The worst part about is that Foster had no intention of taking part in a match between a group of European caddies and a local club in Charlotte.
Westwood is using Casey Kerr, who caddied for Fred Couples at the Masters. He has not started a search for a full-time substitute while Foster heals.
U.S. OPEN: Ernie Els was on the USGA’s radar screen when it comes to special exemptions for the U.S. Open. That won’t be necessary now.
Even though he lost in a playoff at New Orleans, it was enough to move the two-time U.S. Open champion to No. 40 in the world.
In a change this year, the U.S. Open will take the top 60 in the world on May 21 (after the Colonial), which makes Els a lock for The Olympic Club. Vijay Singh at Pebble Beach in 2010 was the last player to receive a special exemption, and with Els safe, there doesn’t appear to be any candidates this year.
That decision will come later.
USGA executive director Mike Davis said any special exemption would be offered before
sectional qualifying fields are established.
“We’ve always been very stingy on these special exemptions,” he said. “In general, we don’t want to give up any special exemptions unless there’s a compelling reason.”