I kept waiting for him to give us something, expected it actually. We didn’t need a Tiger roar or a Sergio leap, but he should have given us something more. I wanted something more than a daft smile and a gentleman’s handshake.
Maybe a poetic pose with his fists raised to the heavens, putter in one hand, golf ball in the other? Maybe a man-hug of his caddie Dan Cooper, one that even a torrential Bethpage Black rain couldn’t drench?
Nothing. After sinking a short, knee-wobbling par putt on the 72nd hole of the U.S. Open to clinch his first career major victory, Lucas Glover was stoic.
Glover didn’t play a great final round Monday in Long Island, New York, but he played just well enough, shooting a three-over 73 to claim a two-stroke victory over Phil Mickelson, David Duval, and his playing partner Ricky Barnes.
For a man that does nothing to earn your attention, Glover did the one unflattering thing that all Open champions learn to do: He absorbed the body blows better than anybody else.
With Mickelson trudging along, hoping and wishing to become America’s darling and an instant Open classic legend with a victory for his cancer-battling wife Amy, Glover just kept lofting the ball out into the middle of the fairway.
With David Duval busy riding his time machine back to the '90s, a time when he was battling Woods for the No. 1 ranking in golf, and attempting to claim his first PGA Tour win in over eight years, Glover just kept plopping his iron shots onto the green.
With the flamboyant and likeable Ricky Barnes knocking the ball all over the track while attempting to tap into the vast potential that once suggested only great career milestones to come, Glover just kept rolling his putts toward the hole.
And so it was Monday at the 109th U.S. Open. Mickelson leaves with a final round of even par, Duval leaves with an elusive taste of contention, Barnes leaves with his scorecard as a memento for a major that should have been his, and Glover leaves with a sterling silver trophy.
That guy Woods? He finished at even par for the tournament, four strokes behind Glover, but was never really a factor in any of the weekend drama. All he did was struggle.
Add all of these stories up, and that is what makes this U.S. Open a great one to walk away with.
Ninety-five percent of America came to see Mickelson win a tournament that he almost didn’t even bother to play in. About 4.99 percent came to see Tiger get one step closer to Jack Nicklaus’ record 18 major championships. And I’ll give you 0.01 percent for anything else that could have happened, just because.
The masses didn’t get what they had hoped for, but that doesn’t mean that the five days spent at Bethpage were a waste, does it?
If we didn’t get a Mickelson victory or a Tiger romp, what exactly do we take away from this thing?
I’ll tell ya—you take away the stories.
See, Glover won’t be remembered because he isn’t a superstar, and he doesn’t do anything outrageous, like copy John Daly’s attire, to garner enough attention. That’s just the world we live in. We move on to the next big event.
Do you remember Michael Campbell? How about Ben Curtis? Or Zach Johnson?
If you don’t, I don’t blame you. For the record, those are past U.S. Open, British Open, and Masters champions, respectively, in the past seven years.
But Glover’s victory is a remarkable tale about an unassuming guy who never even made the cut at a U.S. Open before winning on Monday. That’s something to remember.
Mickelson’s story tells itself, and there is no reason to hide the fact that virtually everybody was pulling for him. With his wife at home after recently being diagnosed with breast cancer, Mickelson set out to bring the Open championship back home to place in her hospital room as she begins chemotherapy treatment next week.
With a heart soggier than Bethpage itself, it is utterly remarkable that Mickelson was even a drive and an eight iron within the leader when the curtains were pulled on the tournament.
Thankfully, the Mickelsons believe they caught Amy’s cancer early enough that her bout is not only curable, but also probably preventable in the future. Mickelson won’t bring a trophy home to San Diego, but he did something greater than win a golf tournament this weekend.
During an incredibly trying time that hopefully fewer families have to endure in the future, Mickelson gave his wife and his kids a vehicle of entertainment and distraction, if only for five days. That’s something to remember.
Duval used to look like the guy who could challenge Tiger for 10 years at the top of the golf rankings. But as it turned out, Tiger kept winning and Duval kept sinking.
Duval, ranked near 900 in the world coming into the U.S. Open, faced odds longer than the 29,704 yards of nightmare he walked on his way to a second-place finish.
As it turns out, you really can recapture fallen expectations and take a second chance out for dinner and a drink. Duval showed us the way. That’s something to remember.
Barnes was the hot shot from the University of Arizona, a heralded amateur player who was yet another player to fit the bill of Tiger’s foil. In the 2003 Masters, he outplayed Tiger through the first two rounds and then imploded.
Barnes, back with a humbled confidence and a hungry desire, was in perfect position to win the tournament before deciding he was more interested in swinging weed whackers than short irons.
This failed attempt at winning golf’s toughest tournament will be a tough one to swallow, but Barnes should be able to find himself back in contention sooner rather than later. After finishing second, at least he knows that he doesn’t have to go through Q school again for a while.
If he finds consistency, Barnes won’t be going anywhere. There’s something to be said for savvy striding hand-in-hand with talent.
Barnes is just beginning down that road, and I’m hoping to see him back because he brought fun and flair to a weekend known for an assortment of umbrellas and windbreakers. That’s something to remember.
And, of course, there’s Woods—the guy who was supposed to waltz to another major championship after his comeback at the Memorial prior to this event. Questions of the health of Tiger’s knee and his major “drought” will surface in time for the British Open, but they are silly.
He’s the only golfer in the world that forces us to panic when he doesn’t win a major in a calendar year. Woods is healthy; he simply got beat. If Woods made half the putts that he normally does, he probably wins this tournament.
But he is more human than we care to believe, and I think that is a good thing for golf. Woods has weekends where he struggles, like this one, and that’s the one thing that keeps him connected to every other man on the tour.
There are big favorites (Woods), huge underdogs (Duval), and fairytale dreams (Mickelson), and sometimes none of them come to fruition.
Sometimes it is the Glovers and the Barneses that steal the show, and we are reminded that there are more than three men that tee it up for the game’s greatest display of creativity and skill.
Under every visor, painter hat, and Nike swoosh is a man who has been places and is trying to get to someplace else.
When you think back on the Open at Bethpage Black, don’t think about what we missed. Think about what we saw. As it turns out, we saw a whole heck of a lot.
That’s something to remember.
You can reach Teddy Mitrosilis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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