Other Sports

Glover’s 2011 win went beyond the obvious

On Mother’s Day morning last May, hours before he would beat former Clemson teammate Jonathan Byrd in a sudden-death playoff to win the Wells Fargo Championship, Lucas Glover was up early.

He was staying in a home off the 15th fairway at Quail Hollow Club, a guest of his friend Rich Davies, a former Clemson football player and now a Charlotte businessman. It’s a comfortable place for Glover, who can walk to his favorite fishing spots on the course late in the day, sometimes engaging Davies’ son, Tim, in a fishing competition.

Chris Davies, another son, was home from Clemson and staying with some of his fraternity brothers in the basement. Glover gathered some guys, disappeared for a while and returned as breakfast was being served to the Davies clan.

Glover led the sons and fraternity brothers in, presenting Kelly Davies with flowers and a Mother’s Day card signed by all the boys in the house.

“It was his idea,” Rich Davies said of the gift for his wife. “He was in contention at that point (three back of Byrd) and to take the time to get up that early, get those fellows and head out to the store and do what he did speaks a lot about who he is. He’s a very thoughtful chap.”

Just after 6 p.m. that same day, Glover had one arm around his mother, Hershey, and another around his Wells Fargo Championship trophy after earning his first PGA Tour victory since his rain-soaked win at the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage State Park (N.Y.) on Long Island.

It was a victory that reached beyond the obvious for Glover.

He had gone nearly two years without a win after joining the major champions’ club with his victory at Bethpage. He had gone through a difficult period in his personal life, his marriage ending, while he moved away from Greenville, S.C., where he was born and raised to start a new life at St. Simon’s Island, Ga.

A thick beard he had grown out of boredom the previous fall had given Glover a new look. He had stayed close with his friends while rumors circulated about his personal life. On the golf course, Glover, 32, tucked himself beneath the cap he pulls low over his face and chased the magic in his game that had earned him a U.S. Open trophy.

That Sunday at Quail Hollow, Glover found what he wanted. With the championship at stake, he eagled the par-5 10th hole, made a difficult par save from behind the 16th green, made a tough par at the watery 17th, then holed a 7-foot par putt at No. 18 that seemed to win the tournament until Byrd responded with a brilliant tying birdie to force the playoff.

On the first extra hole, Glover made a 4-foot par putt to beat Byrd.

Five days earlier, Glover was on the practice range at Quail Hollow searching for a spark. He had missed the cut at the Heritage Classic two weeks earlier, skipped the tournament in New Orleans to clear his mind and arrived in Charlotte on a scavenger hunt for his swing.

Hitting practice balls on Wednesday, Glover changed the way he set his clubface at address, closing it slightly. Suddenly, he had command of where the ball was going again. It was a simple tweak that, coupled with perhaps the best putting week of his PGA Tour career, catapulted him to his third career win, answering questions – his own and others’ – in the process.

“I won’t say I had a weight on me,” Glover said. “I knew I needed to get back in contention more and I hadn’t been there. You can’t win if you’re not in contention. Pressure to win? No. Pressure to get into contention? Yes.”

Victory was ‘a big deal’

Those close to Glover understood how important the victory at Quail Hollow – where Glover has many friends – was to the new champion. Some members of his Sunday gallery wore Fear the Beard T-shirts.

“It was a big deal,” Glover’s friend, Dr. Brandt Gilbert, said.

Glover isn’t flamboyant on the golf course. He plays quickly and with a power that comes from his natural athletic ability. When he’s on, Glover can hit high right-to-left shots that are beautiful in their simplicity.

Early in his professional career, there was a tendency in the media to label Glover as a country boy from Clemson. It was a serious case of miscasting.

While he loves Clemson football and can talk in detail about the Tigers’ recruiting as well as their offensive and defensive schemes, Glover sees and lives in a big world. He’s an avid reader (he’s into Clive Cussler novels at the moment), an accomplished cook who took a home economics class in high school, is knowledgeable about wine, has a wide range of music tastes that include Frank Sinatra and The Beatles, loves to paddleboard and keeps multiple Words With Friends games going with friends.

“I know of no one who has beaten him so far,” Rich Davies said.

He can both give and take the needle with friends.

“What you see on TV, he’s not as angry as he looks. He’s not. He looks grumpy, like he’s maybe someone you wouldn’t want to run into, but he’s really laid back,” Gilbert said.

When Glover played poorly in the final round at Harbour Town this year, putting a couple of double bogeys on his card, Gilbert sent him a biting text.

“I texted him every word twice – ‘safe safe travels travels,’” Gilbert said.

Glover’s beard gave him an identity the U.S. Open trophy hadn’t. He hadn’t intended the beard to be anything more than what it was – a reason not to shave for a while. Once it filled in, Glover liked it and decided to keep it.

“My mother and I loved it,” said Hershey, Glover’s mother. “I hated to see it go. I like it with the long hair he had. He had curly hair when he was little and when he grew his hair out, he still had the curls. But his hair was white when he was a baby.”

There were suggestions by armchair psychologists that perhaps Glover had grown the beard as something to hide behind while his personal life was changing.

“I’m not hiding behind anything,” Glover said.

He has remained quiet about what happened in his marriage as both a matter of privacy and out of respect to everyone involved.

Glover knew people were talking about him.

“People that know you and love you and care about you, they know the truth. That’s all I care about,” Glover said. “I don’t care what people say or think or do. I know what happened and I know the truth and the people I care about, I know to tell them the truth. The rest of it is fine. They can say what they want.”

Searching for his spark

Last November, Glover shaved his beard after returning from a trip to China. He will be clean-shaven at Quail Hollow Club this week and, not unlike a year ago, he’s searching for the missing spark in his golf game.

Glover hurt his knee while paddle boarding in Hawaii prior to the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions, one of the perks that came with winning the Wells Fargo Championship. He missed two months of the season and has made three cuts in five starts this year.

Winning in Charlotte on Mother’s Day in effect closed a circle for Glover. His rain-delayed U.S. Open victory came one day after Father’s Day and his stepfather, Jimmy Glover, was there to see it. Having his mother at Quail Hollow completed a set of victories for his parents.

Though he’s moved away from Greenville, Glover carries with him pieces of the people who mean the most to him. He’s like his grandfather, Dick Hendley, on the course and has the curiosity of his grandmother, Lucille, off the course, Glover said.

“No matter who you are, if you’re close to somebody, they give you something,” Glover said. “My grandfather gave me my drive and work ethic and part of my temper, probably. My grandmother gave me my manners and popped me on the mouth if I didn’t say ’ma’am’ or ’sir’ when I was a kid.

“Mom has just been there. Mothers teach you how to love. My dad is perspective. He’s not a golfer, not an athlete, not an athletic background. Jimmy could care less about the golf course. When we talk, he says I don’t care what you shot. How are you doing?”

Glover is doing fine.

Posing for photographs with his mother and his new trophy on Mother’s Day afternoon last year, Glover pulled his mother close. His favorite photo is one with both of them laughing.

Who said what?

Glover told his mom that the trophy he was holding “was better than the crappy Mother’s Day card I got her.”

To Hershey Glover, it was a Mother’s Day like no other.

“There’s nothing false about him,” she said about her son. “He’s genuine. He’s just Lucas.”

Related stories from Charlotte Observer

  Comments