Your U.S. Open Champ is Cool Hand Lucas
The winner of the 109th playing of the U.S. Open Golf Championship is Cool Hand Lucas.
Make that Cool Hand Lucas Glover, southern gentleman, Clemson guy, and a Cinderella story.
The story Glover wrote Monday at Bethpage Black was one of patience and overcoming myriad of obstacles.
First, there was the rally by New York's favorite, Phil Mickelson.
Mickelson had one hand on the trophy, but he broke his own heart and left his fans dismayed when he bogeyed the 15th and 17th holes to lose yet another Open. He finished as the runner-up for a record fifth time.
Second, Glover overcame the near comeback story of the decade when he ducked a rally by David Duval, who finished two-under and tied with Mickelson.
Third, Glover overcame the collapse of his playing partner, third-round leader Ricky Barnes. Bad play can be contagious, and Barnes shot a 40 on the front while Glover shot 38.
Glover recovered; Barnes almost did, too, and managed to finish second with Mickelson and Duval.
Glover propelled himself to victory by shooting even par on the back nine, and the shot that put him in the winner's circle was his short iron to 16. He made the five-footer for birdie then made nervous par putts at 17 and 18.
Glover's scorecards of 67-64-70-73 totaled a four-under 276.
This fellow from Greer, South Carolina, is the first true Southern winner of the Open since Curtis Strange did it 20 years ago.
It was only the second win ever for Glover.
Just call him Cool Hand Lucas, the improbable winner of the 109th Open.
Mickelson's Open Heartbreaks Continue
The Open title was waiting for Phil Mickelson, begging him to embrace victory and wrap his arms around the impressive silver trophy.
Everything was going his way. The stars seemed to align for Lefty.
He seemingly took control of the tournament at the par-five 13th when he hit his second shot from a little more than 200 yards, landing a mind-boggling five feet from the hole. He took advantage of the great shot and made eagle and looked like he finally might win his Open.
It all came apart for him when he missed a three-footer for par at hole 15. Broadcaster Johnny Miller predicted Mickelson would win if he parred 15, but it was not meant to be.
Mickelson compounded his fate with another bogey at 17.
It was all over.
Mickelson has more on his mind than his finish. He will now prepare to see wife Amy through her cancer treatments come July 1.
Duval's Effort Was Terrific
"A man can travel far and wide, all the way to shame and glory and back again, but he ain't gonna find anything in this old world that's dead, solid, perfect." (Dan Jenkins, from the novel Dead Solid Perfect)
David Duval has gone from glory all the way down to 800-something in the world rankings. It has been an incredible fall from stardom to the dregs of golf.
Duval is back, and he was back with a fury all week at Bethpage. He was so close on Monday and overcame the worst of starts—a triple bogey on his first hole of the day, which came courtesy of a tee shot that plugged underneath the lip of a bunker.
Duval's runner-up finish gets him back in the rest of the majors. He had to qualify for this one and took full advantage of a course he said fits his game well.
He has said for a while that he is playing well; it just hasn't shown yet.
It showed this week.
It would be a great story for golf if David Duval is truly back.
If his rounds of 67-70-70-71 are any indication, he's back.
Ricky Barnes Was Nervous Early
Ricky Barnes, the third-round leader, crashed and burned early on Monday.
He was very unsteady with five bogeys on the front nine, including four in a row on holes five through eight.
He admitted afterward that he was nervous, and it got to him a bit. To Barnes' credit, he settled down on the final nine and still had a chance at 18 but saw a great effort on a long putt roll over the dreaded cellophane bridge that sometimes covers the hole.
Still, a runner-up finish in the Open has given the first-year PGA Tour player great confidence.
Barnes is also in the Open record books for posterity with the 36-hole scoring record and became only the fourth player in open history to get to double-digits under par during a championship.
And Then There Was Tiger
Tiger, oh Tiger, when will you ever come from behind to win a major?
As superhuman as you seem on the course, it's the one thing you haven't done.
It was all out there for you Monday at Bethpage.
Indeed, all Woods needed was a Tiger-like 18 holes. It didn't seem like a run to four-under was asking too much.
The events were unfolding to his advantage. The two inexperienced leaders were fading and no player was making a serious run.
Neither was Tiger.
Woods shot 69 for an even-par 280 total.
This Open showed Woods' only weakness and perhaps it's the way to "Tiger-Proof" a golf course—slow down the greens. Tiger never seemed to get used to the slower putting surfaces, and how many putts did he barely miss during the tournament?
That's an easy answer—a bunch. There were too many missed putts to overcome for him to win yet another major.
Instead, perhaps Tiger can appreciate the fact that the man he pursues, Jack Nicklaus, had 19 runner-ups in majors and 13 third-place finishes.