Golf

Bob Gillespie

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

Home Course: Lucas Glover

Posted 5/9/2011 8:48:00 AM

Until Sunday, when his final-round 69 to overtake Wells Fargo Championship leader (and former Clemson teammate) Jonathan Byrd and his sudden-death par at Quail Hollow’s treacherous 18th hole in Charlotte propelled him to victory, Lucas Glover had gone a long time between PGA Tour wins. So long, in fact, that some even wondered if his 2009 U.S. Open triumph was, perhaps, a fluke.

No longer. Glover, a former All-American for coach Larry Penley’s Tigers, used a revamped swing and a red-hot putting stroke (he led the tournament on the greens) to propel him to victory in what most PGA Tour players say is a tournament just one step below the majors. Surrounded by orange-clad fans, playing with one of his best friends (Byrd) and joined afterward by his mother, Hershey, the 6-foot-2, heavily bearded Glover celebrated a rebirth. And, he said, it couldn’t have come at a better place, just two hours up the road from Clemson.

“I’m elated, absolutely elated, especially here,” he said. “(I’ve got) a lot of friends at Quail Hollow, a lot of friends in town, a lot of support. You know, any time you win, you’re pleased. It means you beat everybody. You did what you set out to do Thursday morning when the bell rang. You know, against this (star-filled) field and on this golf course and in a tournament of this magnitude, I’m thrilled.”

Glover wasn’t always the “Grizzly Adams” lookalike you see these days on the PGA Tour. In 2009, when he stunned the golf world (and perhaps himself) by winning the Open at Bethpage Black in suburban New York, he was a clean-shaven guy, not the bearded Lucas with long, curly hair of today. But there’s always been a bit of the nonconformist in the Greenville native.

Glover, 31, who learned his game as a tot from his grandfather (Clemson Hall of Fame football player and former Pittsburgh Steeler Dick Hendley), is the “good ol’ boy” of Clemson’s PGA Tour alumni. He pulls up at events in his pickup truck, and laughingly says “don’t look” under the truck-bed cover, which is full of golf clubs, clothing and fishing gear. He’s more comfortable (and usually seen away from the course) in jeans, tail-out shirts and vintage Converse All-Star tennis shoes, which he buys on the Internet. And he’s been known to keep a dip (of tobacco) between cheek and gum.

While his life-changing victory in the Open, and now his third career win at Charlotte, assures Glover remains in the spotlight, generally he’d rather kick back with his buddies. He loves Clemson football games in the fall and wetting a hook year-round. “Luke,” as his family calls him, doesn’t say a lot – but when he does, as at youth and charity golf clinics, it’s worth listening. And on Sunday, he had the last word.

Hometown: Greenville; lives in Sea Island, Ga.

Bio: Two-time All-American at Clemson, where he graduated in 2005 and played on two NCAA golf runners-up, as well as a member of the 2001 Walker Cup team. Earned more than $13 million on the PGA Tour since his rookie year of 2004. Acquired reputation as an avid reader after revealing he finished off four books (spy novels and murder mysteries) during the 2009 Open.

Highlights: Defeated Ricky Barnes, Phil Mickelson and David Duval in the rain-delayed Open, the pinnacle of a 2009 in which he cashed checks for a personal-best $3.7 million. Also won the 2005 FUNAI Classic at Walt Disney World Resort when he sank a bunker shot from 100 feet on the final hole, and rode a hot putter to victory at the 2011 Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte.. Picked as a member of the 2007 and 2009 U.S. Presidents Cup teams.

Where to play: “I’m a big Yeamans Hall (Hanahan) fan. That’s old school golf, and I like the Charleston area. I like (Hilton Head’s) Harbour Town (Golf Links) during (The Heritage) tournament week; it’s just a good test. And back home, I like all of them: Thornblade, Chanticleer, wherever.”

Where to eat: “If you’re playing at Yeamans, you go downtown and you’ve got dozens of places to eat in Charleston. They kind of move and shake (the restaurants), they open and close, so I can’t name a particular one, all pretty good. In Greenville, I’m a big Chicora Alley fan; it’s kind of hippy-Mexican, and it’s good. (At Hilton Head), I usually rent a house and stay in a lot, so I don’t know too many around there.”

What to do for fun: “Obviously, I like to fish. Just any of those places you can fish all you want. I’m more of an inshore guy; I like to go after redfish, sea trout. For inland fishing, (I like to catch) large-mouth bass. Whatever’s biting, really.”