Long week goes Glover's way

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FARMINGDALE, N.Y. --- Lucas Glover steadied his hands for a 3-foot par putt on the 18th hole, an anticlimactic finish to five dreary days at a U.S. Open filled with more delays than drama.

Lucas Glover hugs caddie Dan Cooper after winning the U.S. Open. The former Clemson player won his first major by two shots.  Associated Press
Associated Press
Lucas Glover hugs caddie Dan Cooper after winning the U.S. Open. The former Clemson player won his first major by two shots.

The unlikely champion turned to soak up a beautiful sight beneath gathering clouds Monday at Bethpage Black.

"I just looked at the scoreboard to make sure this was really happening," Glover said.

Some 24,000 fans, speckled with mud from a long walk soiled, could surely relate.

Glover, a former Clemson standout, never lost the lead over the final 12 holes, even though the attention was always on someone else. He closed with a 3-over 73 for a two-shot victory in a U.S. Open that might be remembered more for the week than the winner.

The stage belonged to Phil Mickelson, as it usually does in New York.

Lefty charged into a share of the lead with a startling bid to finally win the Open, his final event before a summer of uncertainty as his wife battles breast cancer. A fairy-tale finish turned all too familiar, however, when Mickelson missed two par putts over the last four holes and wound up setting the wrong kind of record by finishing second for the fifth time in the American national championship.

Next came David Duval, out of nowhere. Winless in eight years, he ran off three consecutive birdies on the back nine to tie for the lead as the No. 882 player in the world tried to show why he was No. 1 a decade ago.

His hopes ended with a five-foot par putt on the 17th that spun 180 degrees out of the cup.

Ricky Barnes was the long shot who didn't last very long with the 54-hole lead. He shot 40 on the front nine to turn control over to Glover, and wound up shooting 76 to join Mickelson and Duval in a tie for second.

Glover didn't have a compelling story line, just the kind of golf that wins a U.S. Open in any conditions.

He made only one birdie in the rain-delayed final round, and it could not have been timed any better. Tied for the lead with three holes to play, he split the middle of the fairway and had 173 yards left to the hole at No. 16.

It was a smooth 8-iron, like thousands he has hit on the driving range. It landed six feet from the cup.

"The putt was all you could ever ask for under pressure," Glover said.

His caddie, Don Cooper, who is from Edgefield, S.C., helped him with the read and told him, "There's no way we're missing this."

"It would have went in a thimble," Cooper said.

Glover finished at 4-under 276 and earned $1.35 million, moving from No. 71 to 17th in the world.

The 29-year-old from South Carolina, who chews tobacco and listens to Frank Sinatra, had not won since holing out a bunker shot on the final hole at Disney nearly four years ago.

But this was no fluke.

"I hit the shots today that I had to hit in the situation, and that was a little more gratifying," Glover said.

It was the first time the U.S. Open ended on a Monday without a playoff since 1983, courtesy of relentless rain.

And for the first time in five years, all the major trophies belong to someone other than Tiger Woods.

The defending champion reached under par for the first time all week with a six-foot birdie putt at the par-3 14th, leaving him four shots out of the lead but running out of holes. Not that it mattered. He hit a 5-iron over the 15th green to make bogey, and had to settle for a 69 that left him in a tie for sixth.

"I striped it this week," Woods said. "I hit it just like I did at Memorial, and unfortunately I didn't make anything."

Glover closed with the highest score of a U.S. Open champion since Ernie Els had 73 at Oakmont in 1994, although the only score that mattered was his even-par 35 on the back nine -- and that crucial birdie.

COMING THIS WEEK:


Scott Michaux talks with Cooper, who is from Edgefield, S.C.


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