By John Brasier
The 2023 Wyndham Championship will go down as one of the most memorable PGA Tour events of the year.
Not just to those of us in the Triad, who look forward to our annual tournament at Sedgefield Country Club. But also, to millions of pro golf fans throughout the world.
We can thank Lucas Glover, who has been an inspiration to those of us who quake at the prospect of 2-foot par putts and dawdle after missing putts, waiting to shame their playing partners into conceding what’s left over as a gimme.
If you thought Glover’s surprise victory in the Wyndham was amazing, you’d have to agree that his follow-up victory this past weekend in Memphis was miraculous – not only that he beat most of the world’s top players, but that he won because he was the best putter in the tournament.
The Wyndham is where Glover came into the spotlight as the PGA Tour’s inspirational story of the year and began his climb to what has already been an incredible stretch run .
No. 180 on the Tour’s FedExCup points list a few months ago, the 43-year-old Greenville, South Carolina, native, is now 4th on the list. He was No. 112, two weeks ago when he came to Sedgefield for what most in the golf world figured to be his last regular Tour event of the year. His fate seemed to be trying to hold onto his playing privileges (the top 125) at the new FedExCup Fall Series, not advancing to the $75 million playoffs.
For a golfer, there’s nothing more gut-wrenching than to miss a short putt that most players would consider a routine tap-in. It effects every part of your game. You start worrying about leaving long putts or missing greens that will require and up-and-down for par. Many of us know. We’ve been there — and some of us are still there.
Since joining the Tour more two decades ago, Glover has been known as one of the best ballstrikers on the Tour, and probably the worst putter. That’s a combination that would have driven a lot of players crazy with frustration, caused them to quit. He said as recently as this spring, he considered putting left-handed.
Little more than two months ago, Glover missed an 18-foot putt for par at a qualifier that cost him a spot in the U.S. Open, the tournament that provided him a brief window of previous fame when he won it in 2009.
As it turned out, Glover didn’t qualify to play in any of this year’s four major championships.
But Glover refused to give up. He finally found a cure for the yips – an ugly extended putter that takes the jitters out of his stroke. It’s become his magic wand.
He came to Sedgefield with three top six finishes in four events, but that didn’t attract much attention given he was No. 112 on the points list.
The victory at Sedgefield changed Glover’s career arc, and inspired millions of golfers. Without the victory, he wouldn’t have qualified for Memphis. Now, he should be considered among the favorites to win the Cup, an $18 million prize and, just maybe, receive a Ryder Cup invitation.
Glover has made a statement for determination and perseverance for those of us who face knee-knockers on and off the course, whether for bogey or worse, rather than birdie or par.
Don’t give up. Don’t lose hope. You just have to keep trying and find something that works.
Glover’s transformation from one of, if not, the worst putter on the PGA Tour (Tour stats bear that out) into the best at least he was on Sunday at the FedEx Open) has been heartwarming, inspiring, tear-jerking … take your pick.
Sunday at TPC at Southwind, Glover’s normally dependable ballstriking betrayed him. But his putting saved him – time after time. On the back nine, he rolled in par putts of 7, 20 and 11 feet. But his biggest save was a 29-footer for bogey on the par-3 14th after he his tee shot into a pond.
Glover had to make birdie at 16 to pull into a tie with Patrick Cantlay, playing two holes ahead of him, and force a sudden-death playoff. So, each of those were must-make putts.
Just as striking was Glover’s demeanor – it hasn’t really changed. He’s still the guy who signs autographs, greets people he barely knows and talks to on-course volunteers.
He’s friendly, if a bit quiet. He doesn’t wear flashy clothes. He doesn’t make outrageous gestures or tweets to get attention, though he is refreshingly candid when asked his opinion (he didn’t mind openly criticizing the Tour’s cut to 70 players for the playoffs).
Who knows whether Glover can maintain his putting prowess through two more playoff events, much less until next year and beyond. Golf swings and putting strokes are easier lost than found.
Regardless, the golf world has to feel good about Glover’s inspiring transformation from desperation to exhilaration in about two months.
Without the Wyndham, a tournament that the then-top 17 players on the FedExCup points list elected to skip so they could rest up for the playoffs, the feel-good story of the season on the 2023 PGA Tour wouldn’t have happened.