Glover ends 2-year drought at Wells Fargo
Lucas Glover spent the week at a former Clemson football player's house, had Tigers fans dressed in specially designed T-shirts cheering him each day, and ended up in a playoff with a former Clemson teammate, Jonathan Byrd.
The orange-tinted weekend, combined with a breakthrough with his iron play and great putting, helped end a 41-tournament drought on the PGA Tour.
Fear the beard, indeed.
Glover put aside frustrations on the course and distractions off it by sinking a 4-foot par putt on the first extra hole at the Wells Fargo Championship on Sunday to edge his close friend and claim his first victory since the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black.
"I'm elated, absolutely elated, especially here," Glover said. "A lot of friends at Quail Hollow, a lot of friends in town, a lot of support."
The 31-year-old Glover, who grew up in Greenville, S.C., returned to the Carolinas perhaps at a perfect time. Dealing with a divorce over the past couple months that he declined to address and inconsistent play, Glover had missed the cut in his past three starts. He had just one top 10 in the last year.
"He's had a difficult time for maybe over a year now off the golf course," Byrd said. "He's had to play through some things and, for him to come back and play as well as he did this week and play as well as he did other weeks, I'm really proud of him."
Glover discovered a flaw in the way he was addressing his iron shots in a practice round Tuesday, and was energized by mingling with numerous Clemson fans at the home along the 15th hole of Rich Davies, a former Tigers kicker.
Davies' oldest son some fraternity brothers took it a step further by making T-shirts reading "Fear the Beard." Glover decided last fall to try to a bushy-faced look that was the talk of the sun-splashed final day.
"They were painting those up Wednesday night and Thursday morning," Glover said of the shirts. "They wouldn't let me come in the garage and see what it was.
"I was pleased when I saw that it was that tame."
Glover, one of five leaders on a wild final day, held onto a one-shot edge by parring the tricky final three holes. That included dropping a 7-footer on 18 after a poor tee shot for a 3-under 69, becoming the first player in the event's nine-year history to shoot four rounds in the 60s.
But Byrd, the 54-hole leader who let a four-stroke lead slip away early Sunday, extended the day by sinking a 15-foot birdie putt to tie Glover at 15-under 273.
If there was any nervousness in trying to end a long winless drought, Byrd's presence helped. The two have played hundreds of rounds together from their days in junior golf to amateur competitions and then as college teammates.
"I saw him when he came off 18 there on the putting green, gave him a hug and we just both said, 'Great playing; see you in a second,"' Glover said. "It was kind of a calmness.
"I can't speak for him, but that's how it was for me."
Byrd, looking for his third victory since October, pulled his second shot to the left of the 18th green, the first playoff hole. His chip sailed 25 feet past the hole and he made bogey.
Glover, who insisted to his caddie that he wasn't nervous, two-putted from 25 feet.
"If I couldn't win, I couldn't pick anybody else I'd want to win other than Lucas," Byrd said. "I'm very happy for him.
Despite Tiger Woods' absence due to a knee injury, there was plenty of intrigue on the final day — and a sombre moment, too.
Play was suspended at 3:08 p.m. local time for a minute and players and fans across the course bowed their heads for a moment of silence in honor of Seve Ballesteros. The five-time major championship winner and Ryder Cup star died early Saturday from cancerous brain tumour.
The final-round pairing of Padraig Harrington and Phil Mickelson dazzled the galleries early, with both players getting within three shots at one point before fading. The two then had to jump into a golf cart after their round and head to the 13th tee when a spectator told a marshal Harrington may have teed up ahead of the markers.
After a long and fruitless search the divot and with TV replays no help, Harrington wasn't disqualified and finished tied for ninth with Mickelson, Vijay Singh, Stewart Cink and three others.
"If somebody asked me, I would have sworn I was 6 inches behind the marker," Harrington said.
Rory Sabbatini, barely mentioned after the news Wednesday he could face a suspension for a profanity-filled argument with Sean O'Hair last week in New Orleans, shot a 65 and flirted with being in the playoff until late. He finished alone in third, one shot back.
Bill Haas (13 under) and Kevin Na (12 under) rounded out the top five. Pat Perez, who set a tournament record with 26 birdies and led briefly early Sunday, had his hopes dashed with three straight bogeys late.
"It just proves that I can't close, so I'm pretty confident on that," Perez said, bluntly.
Glover, meanwhile, was brimming with confidence heading to next weekend's Players Championship, where the temperature is expected to climb to 90 in Florida.
Will he nix the beard due to the heat?
"I don't think so," Glover said. "It's not itching yet."