Wednesday, May 6, 2009
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Plan A obviously wasn’t working, so Lucas Glover will go with Plan B.
“I’m going to go in Tuesday, play fast Wednesday, go back (to my hotel), put my feet up and see what happens,” Glover said, when asked his plans for this week’s Players Championship.
But that leaves him very little prep time for what so many consider to be one of the marquee events of the year, does it not? Indeed, but as with everything with Glover, there’s a steady stream of honesty. So if you wonder why he’s meandering in so late, here it is:
“(In the past) I’ve practiced all day Monday, all day Tuesday, and all day Wednesday, then (gone) out and played bad.”
How bad? Consider that Glover has missed the cut in all three starts here, his scoring average a stunning 77.66. Oh, yeah, that qualifies as “bad.”
As he does with his golf, which is as fast-paced as you’ll find on the PGA Tour, Glover delivered his answers swiftly and with not a hint of nonsense. Midway through his sixth season on the PGA Tour, the one-time Clemson star might be feeling as good about his game as he ever has, so the chance to turn his fortunes around at TPC Sawgrass comes at a good time.
When he came up one stroke shy of chasing down Sean O’Hair at last weekend’s Quail Hollow Championship, Glover secured a share of second, his best finish since that autumn Sunday in 2005 when he holed a bunker shot and won the Funai Golf Classic at Walt Disney World.
He was in his second full season on the PGA Tour, playing in his 64th tournament, and you would have been laughed at had you suggested Glover would go winless over his next 89 starts.
But he has, and as much as that surprises many in the golf-watching business, it rankles Glover.
“I’m just trying to put four (rounds) together, get a little more consistent with my irons and make some more 10- and 12-footers,” Glover said.
Career win No. 2 was tantilizingly close at Quail Hollow, but Glover vowed not to beat himself up. That’s always been one of his trademarks, but he took the proceedings in Charlotte, N.C., as a positive sign.
“This might be the best field we have all year and I finished second. I’m pretty excited about the way I played,” Glover said.
For large parts of Sunday’s final round, Glover had been tied for the lead, but he fell two behind when O’Hair birdied Nos. 15 and 16. Then O’Hair bogeyed 17 and 18, to put Glover back in position to tie – only he, too, lost a stroke at the demanding 17th.
Not that he could have been shocked by that. After all, he had more or less set the table the day before when asked about the par-3 that is stretched to 235 yards.
“Serious demons on 17,” Glover had said following the third round. “I live over there to the right.”
Fast-forward a day, Glover on the 17th tee, his 11-under score matching O’Hair’s and guess what? He went right again.
“It’s a brutal hole. I mean, that hole location that wind, everything.”
Certainly, Glover’s assessment can’t be dismissed. On Sunday, the 17th ranked most difficult, a field average of 3.351, and only two birdies were recorded, against 23 bogeys or worse. It was an impossible birdie, given the situation, and a demanding par, so when he didn’t pull it off – and thus fell one back – Glover didn’t let it ruin his tournament.
For one thing, he felt he maintained his composure, something that’s frequently been a problem. “I’m usually pretty nervous in the last couple groups on a Sunday and I didn’t give too much away.”
Instead, Glover recorded his fifth straight solid tournament. He’s finished T-11, T-31, T-26, T-19, and T-2 since mid-March, and only three of those 20 rounds have resulted in a score higher than 72.
It’s the sort of consistent play that many have expected of him since that Disney victory. Considered a serious contender for the Ryder Cup team in 2006, Glover did play for the Presidents Cup team in 2007, and he was surely a star on the rise.
Until he seemed to back up in 2008, his 26 starts resulting in just two top 10s, and a money-list spot of 105th, after having been 53rd, 21st, 30th, and 34th each of the previous four seasons. The problem, in Glover’s view, was his schedule. He felt he played too much early, and when he struggled, he piled on the tournaments in the summer, too.
When the BMW Championship concluded Sept. 7, Glover packed away the clubs and picked up the fishing poles and put to use his Clemson football tickets. He also told himself he would take on the 2009 season with a better attitude.
So far, so good. As he prepares for the Players Championship, Glover is 19th on the money list and has been reacquainted with the taste of being in the hunt. Positive aspects, both.
Can that lead to a reversal of his Players Championship fortunes?
Plan B may provide the answer.