Latest News

Glover tops Byrd in playoff for Wells Fargo win

The way Lucas Glover pulls his cap down over a face that's now largely hidden by a thick brown beard, it's sometimes difficult to see what's going on with him.

But when he pushed his white cap back early Sunday evening, there was no missing the satisfied look on Glover's 31-year-old, sun-reddened face.

"I'm elated, absolutely elated," he said after beating his friend and former teammate Jonathan Byrd on the first extra hole to win the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club.

Glover has been to golf's mountaintop, winning the mud-stained 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage State Park in New York, but more recently, he has been forced to make another climb, pulling himself through changes in his personal life while dealing with a golf game that has been uncooperative.

In winning at Quail Hollow, Glover had a victory that reached deep on several levels.

It reconfirmed his faith in himself and his game during a week in which he stayed with friends who live on Quail Hollow's 15th hole, even bringing a smile to Byrd's face amid his own disappointment.

"He's had a difficult time 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 other weeks, I'm really proud of him."

Glover has politely declined to talk about his private life - he did so again Sunday - despite reports he is going through a divorce, and he hadn't done much to talk about on the golf course until he showed up at Quail Hollow.

He rolled into town dragging a string of three straight missed cuts behind him and absent a finish inside the top 20 this year.

The feeling, Glover suggested, was better than his results had indicated and when he had a revelation on the practice tee Tuesday afternoon - it was a simple tweak of squaring the face of his club at address - the gears clicked into place.

That was the day Glover and Byrd were teammates in a practice-round match against Charles Warren and Davis Love III, not knowing how the weekend would bring two of them together.

Seeing each other on the practice tee before Saturday's third round, Byrd and Glover joked about making a 2 p.m. tee time for the final round, meaning they'd be in the last group. They wound up meeting on the 18th tee at about 6 p.m. Sunday to decide the championship.

Getting there was the dynamic part.

It was a day when action ricocheted around like lottery balls. Phil Mickelson and Padraig Harrington made early moves. Pat Perez, who started the day a stroke behind third-round leader Byrd, fell back with a double-bogey at No.7.

Bill Haas stayed near the lead, chasing an elusive spark, and Rory Sabbatini, facing potential disciplinary action from the PGA Tour, rocketed into the storyline with a closing 65 that allowed him to post a 14-under-par total that someone had to beat.

Glover and Byrd finished at 15 under but got there from different paths.

A birdie at the par-5 15th earned Glover a one-stroke lead, but the hard part remained.

He made tough pars at 16 and 17, then turned a potentially devastating tee shot at 18 into another par.

Glover pull-hooked his tee shot left of the creek on 18, his ball coming to rest on a hillside, lodged against a spectator's back pocket. As Glover prepared to play his second shot - off a sharp sidehill lie and over a creek to the green - his ball rolled down the slope.

Aware of the ball's precarious position, Glover had not grounded his club, avoiding a one-stroke penalty. His chip shot from the back fringe at 18 to within 6 feet of the front-left hole location might have been the best shot he played all week, including the 63-foot birdie putt he made on No.10 Saturday.

"He ground it in," Sabbatini said of Glover. "That's what you have to do sometimes. That's how you win. It's not necessarily the birdies that count. Sometimes it's the pars that you manage to scrounge out that really make the difference."

Left to wait and watch his friend play his final hole, Glover had a sense Byrd, who had already cobbled together a gritty par from the right trees at No.16, would make a tying birdie.

He was right, watching Byrd punch the air just as Glover had done moments earlier when he forced extra holes.

In the playoff, Byrd bunkered his tee shot, then pulled his 5-iron approach shot left of the green. A poor pitch shot led to a bogey and Glover was able to two-putt for a routine par to win.

Out of the darkness, there was light.

"I handled it well," Glover said. "I'm proud of myself for that."

Related stories from Raleigh News & Observer

  Comments