Glover holds nerve to deny Mickelson's popular charge
World No 71 wins maiden major as more famous rivals stumble at the last
Tuesday 23 June 2009
Whenever New Yorkers ever want to berate someone for being a party-pooper from now on they may very well accuse them of "doing a Lucas". Certainly the unheralded professional bearing that christian name broke their hearts here yesterday. With respect to Lucas Glover, golf has rarely seemed a crueller game than when watching Phil Mickelson being denied a first US Open and so finishing runner up for a staggering fifth time.
Of course, this was more than just the familiar storyline of the fans' favourite falling agonisingly short once more (incredibly, this was Mickelson's fourth US Open second place in New York). The plight of Amy Mickelson, at home in California awaiting surgery for breast cancer, cranked up the emotion at Bethpage to almost unbearable levels, with yells of support ringing out on each and every step he took.
Before he set off, Mickelson's wife had implored him to bring the title home – "Amy left me a number of little notes, texts, cards, hints, that she would like to have a silver trophy in her hospital room," he revealed last Tuesday – and for a while it appeared she would get her wish.
But just when Mickelson hit the lead, so he hit the buffers. An eagle on the par-five 13th took him level with Glover, but two short putts, on the 15th and 17th, handed the initiative back to the slugger from South Carolina. Glover bogeyed the 15th but nervelessly birdied the 16th and a 73 for a four-under total proved good enough for the player ranked 71st in the world to win the rain-delayed 109th US Open.
"I put myself into a great position to close it out, but it didn't happen," said Mickelson, who last night began a family vacation, before Amy has her operation in 10 days time. "It's been an emotional five days and I suppose second place feels different this time. It's more in perspective. But I do want to win this tournament badly."
He was not the only one leaving Long Island feeling as if glory had slipped his grasp. For Britain there was Ross Fisher gaining his first top-five major finish, but threatening to become the first European winner of this major in 39 years. After missing from 18 inches on the 12th, Fisher emulated Mickelson's eagle on the 13th to pull within one tantalising shot of Glover. Then he found the rough with his next drive and the resulting bogey stalled his challenge. The 28-year-old will doubtless have other chances but this was undeniably gilt-edged.
"I'll go home and work on my putting," vowed the Ascot professional following his 72. "I'm not being funny but if I holed a couple of putts I could have won this thing comfortably."
When he eventually gets over the shock of being back on the big-time leaderboards, David Duval may also bemoan his profligacy. Since winning the 2001 Open, the former world No 1 has embarked on one of golf's most infamous slumps and arrived here ranked 882nd and surely still without a prayer. Wrong. With two holes to go, the forgotten qualifier was tied with Mickelson and Glover. A bogey on the 17th ruined what would have been one of the most remarkable comeback tales in sport. The most bizarre winner at the most bizarre US Open.
In truth this was a torrid final day in which the quality of golf descended dramatically as the wind got up, greens churned up and tension boiled over. Ricky Barnes, the leader going into his final round, fired a 76 but still managed to finish in that three-way tie for second. Indeed, had Barnes' birdie putt dropped on the 18th then Glover would have had an excruciating four-footer to avoid the 18th-hole play-off. But just like Mickelson's 10 minutes before it stayed above ground and Glover's maiden major was assured.
Having missed the cut in the three previous US Opens he had played and having only one PGA Tour victory to his name, it is fair to say that the 29-year-old did not come into the event as one of the more fancied competitors. In fact, the overwhelming majority of those who punted with heads rather than hearts would have sided with Tiger Woods. Yet the world No 1's putter was even more wasteful than that of Fisher and although he launched a mini-charge on the back nine a 15th major never looked realistic.
Still, a tie for sixth was pretty remarkable considering Woods' travails on the greens and, if anything, he will head to Turnberry for next month's Open more confident than ever. As, no doubt, will Rory Fisher, who recorded his first top 10 in a major courtesy of a final-round 68. Mickelson, though, will not be there. "I've got more important things going on," he explained. It didn't really need saying.
US Open Final scores from Bethpage
US Open Championship, Bethpage State Park (Black Course), Farmingdale, New York
Final round scores (US unless stated, par 70): 276 L Glover 69 64 70 73. 278 P Mickelson 69 70 69 70; D Duval 67 70 70 71; R Barnes 67 65 70 76. 279 R Fisher (Eng) 70 68 69 72. 280 T Woods 74 69 68 69; S Hansen (Den) 70 71 70 69; H Mahan 72 68 68 72. 281 H Stenson (Swe) 73 70 70 68. 282 S Garcia (Sp) 70 70 72 70; R McIlroy (N Ire) 72 70 72 68; M Bettencourt 75 67 71 69; R Moore 70 69 72 71; S Ames (Can) 74 66 70 72; M Weir (Can) 64 70 74 74. 283 A Kim 71 71 71 70; R Goosen (SA) 73 68 68 74. 284 M Sim (Aus) 71 70 71 72; I Poulter (Eng) 70 74 73 67; P Hanson (Swe) 66 71 73 74; G McDowell (N Ire) 69 72 69 74; B Watson 72 70 67 75; 285 L Westwood (Eng) 72 66 74 73; S Stricker 73 66 72 74; O Wilson (Eng) 70 70 71 74; S O'Hair 69 69 71 76. 286 S Cink 73 69 70 74; J Edfors (Swe) 70 74 68 74; JB Holmes 73 67 73 73; A Yano (Japan) 72 65 77 72; F Molinari (It) 71 70 74 71; V Singh (Fiji) 72 72 73 69. 287 J Furyk 72 69 74 72; C Villegas (Col) 71 71 72 73; K Sutherland 71 73 73 70. 288 A Scott (Aus) 69 71 73 75; *N Taylor (Can) 73 65 75 75; C Pettersson (Swe) 75 68 73 72; T Hamilton 67 71 71 79. 289 *D Weaver 69 72 74 74; B Mayfair 73 70 72 74; D Johnson 72 69 76 72; T Clark (SA) 73 71 74 71. 290 K Perry 71 72 75 72. 291 J Mallinger 71 70 72 78; T Levet (Fr) 72 72 71 76. 292 G Woodland 73 66 76 77; G Ogilvy (Aus) 73 67 77 75; T Lehman 71 73 74 74; KJ Choi (S Kor) 72 71 76 73; R Mediate 68 73 79 72; A Romero (Arg) 73 70 77 72. 293 *K Stanley 70 74 74 75. 294 A McLardy (SA) 71 72 75 76; A Cabrera (Arg) 74 69 75 76; J-F Lucquin (Fr) 73 71 75 75. 296 B Curtis 72 71 74 79. 297 T Murphy 71 69 77 80; J Brehaut 70 72 81 74. 301 F Funk 70 74 75 82.
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