Thomas Boswell: After Winning Open, Glover May Face Some Major Adjustments
Golf takes no prisoners. Even when you think you've been given a lifetime parole from the purgatory of obscurity, the game still tries to trap you. Win the biggest event and you get just one day to figure out how to go from 71st in the world to U.S. Open champ.
Now, it's Lucas Glover's turn to see if he can avoid the pitfalls that, to one degree or another, have snagged so many who resemble him. No two "shock champs" are the same. But where U.S. Open champions like Steve Jones and Michael Campbell have gone, where other obscure major winners like Shaun Micheel, Todd Hamilton, Zach Johnson, Ben Curtis, Paul Lawrie and Ian Baker-Finch have lost their way, Glover must now tread. Some found their way back, though none has won another major. Some didn't.
Glover's trial by victory already has begun, though he may not know it. Two weeks ago, he won at Bethpage Black after a five-day event in which he was up before dawn three times. So, he took a little time off to relax, right? When you've won only one PGA Tour event, you have to recover from severe shocks to your system, even the shock of ecstasy.
No way. This is golf. It has its codes and obligations. One day after the Open, Glover kept his promise to play in Hartford, Conn. There, he shot three 65s, finished tied for 11th but was never asked about his play, only about the 800-pound Open gorilla that is now in his life.
This week, he's keeping his word again, playing Washington's AT&T National. Now that he's a marquee name, what is he going to do, stiff Tiger Woods? Next week, he'll honor an appearance in the modest John Deere Classic, then fly on to the British Open.
"I was committed. I needed Hartford, [Washington] and the John Deere to try to get myself into the British Open," Glover said yesterday at Congressional Country Club where, as the No. 17 player in the world, he is suddenly one of the favorites and will play the first two rounds paired with Woods. "I was scheduled. I won and I didn't want to change." Even though, by winning the Open, he was automatically in the British. Call it honor or silliness. At some point, it's both. The trick is telling them apart.
"You're asked to do a lot more things, you get a lot more opportunities at foreign events. And you can wear yourself out very quickly," said Jim Furyk, who won his only major at the '03 U.S. Open and fell to 116th on the money list the next year due to both wrist surgery and poor play. "Lucas is a very nice person, so he's going to have a difficult time saying no. Until he does, he's going to be hectic and frantic and just stressed out."
For now, Glover is still flying on adrenaline, a dangerous post-major drug. "I'm down to Cloud Four as opposed to Cloud Nine," the South Carolinian said. "There were a lot of times I said to myself, 'Really?' That has sunk in now. But it took a few days."
When Glover returns to earth, he'll have to figure out his own unique way of coping with the Open pleasure and Open curse that follows every utterly unexpected winner.
"You start worrying about what other people expect of you rather than what you expect yourself. That can't be healthy," Furyk said. "Most guys probably put more pressure on themselves than they feel from the outside."
That may be an issue for Glover. Last year, he found himself so frustrated and so angry so often that he quit the tour -- well, for seven weeks. But it changed his outlook.
"I had high expectations for myself. That's where my attitude issues came from, my anger stuff [throughout] my whole career until this year, to be honest," said Glover, who said he was an "underachiever" his first five years on tour. "Maybe lowering [the expectations] for this year might have helped," he said. On the first hole of the Open, he made double bogey. A year ago, I'd have pitched a fit going to No. 2, made a bogey there and goodness knows what."