- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 2, 2009

Few golfers not named Eldrick expect to win the U.S. Open, actually put it on their to-do list. That’s why Lucas Glover, the Boss of Bethpage Black two weeks ago, was teeing it up in the Traveler’s Championship last weekend - and why he’ll be playing in the John Deere Classic after the AT&T; National is over.

Glover, you see, hadn’t qualified for the British Open when he arrived on Long Island and - to give himself the best possible chance - had entered every event between Bethpage and Turnberry. No need to worry about that now, of course. By virtue of his U.S. Open victory, he’s good to go in this British Open and the four after that.

But he’s still Lucas Glover - “a very nice person,” Jim Furyk says. “So he’s going to have a difficult time saying no.” Glover is such nice person he couldn’t bring himself to withdraw from the Travelers, as many players would have, and spend the week basking in his newfound celebrity and, well, wringing out his golf shirts.

“I was committed,” he says. “I was scheduled to play and just playing well, so I wanted to keep going.”

Which, for a 29-year-old with only one previous PGA Tour win, might have been the best way to handle it. His life is going to change now - in ways he won’t always have control over. So why not try to keep things as normal as he can for a while? And where, for a golfer, are things more normal than on the course?

It’s different, after all, for him than it was for Furyk. When Jim won the Open in 2003 at Olympia Fields, he was four years older than Glover and had already racked up seven Tour victories. He was a known quantity, an established pro. Nobody was saying, “Who’s this Furyk fellow - and would somebody please buy him a vowel?”

It wasn’t, as Jim says, “a giant step,” just the next logical one. About the only thing that “freaked me out a little bit” about it, he adds, is that “all of a sudden it seemed like my opinion mattered more, even on things that didn’t deal with golf.”

That might be the biggest challenge facing Glover: to keep from getting too freaked out. Or to put it another way: Anybody heard from Michael Campbell lately?

Not that there hasn’t been a time or two since the Open when Glover has caught himself thinking: Really? Did I really just do what I think I did? “But I’m getting back down a little bit,” he says, “Cloud 4 as opposed to 9, I guess.” Whatever cloud he was on during the Travelers, he must have had a decent lie because he shot three 65s and finished tied for 11th.

What Glover is going through is a little like what Robert Redford’s character was going through at the end of “The Candidate.” Ever see it? A political unknown upsets a popular incumbent to win a U.S. Senate seat, and when all the returns are in he looks at his campaign manager, his face full of uncertainty, and says, “What do we do now?”

That’s what Glover is deciding - what he should do now. At the Travelers, he picked the brain of Zach Johnson, surprise winner of the ‘07 Masters, and “asked him how he handled scheduling and different stuff.” At Congressional he has gotten to talk to his “big brother, kind of,” Davis Love, who told him, “We’re all different, and you’ve got to figure out the best way to handle it and how to find your focus.”

Glover will have more conversations like that as the months pass - and he comes to grips with a fame unlike any he has experienced, a fame that can hit you like… walking into somebody’s backswing. He’s determined, he says, to have his Open victory serve as a “springboard, motivation, whatever term you want to use. I want to be there again. I want to have more chances. You know, I’ve got a lot of room to improve.”

The win at Bethpage could help him earn a spot on the Ryder Cup team. That would raise his profile even further. It’s all coming so fast for him now, for this kid who’s never cracked the top 20 on the money list and didn’t play well enough last year to qualify for the most recent Masters.

Furyk looks at Glover as “an established player [who has] played on the [2007] Presidents Cup team.” Still, he wonders whether Lucas will feel the way Ben Curtis and Shaun Micheel did after they shocked the world in majors, feel he has to prove himself worthy of the title, “which I think is crazy. I mean, you already proved yourself. You won one of the biggest events in the world.

“I never felt that way. I won by three or four shots and was pretty clear of the field for the last couple of days. So I felt like I earned it and never felt like I had to live up to the fact that I was the U.S. Open champion. [But] that’s difficult for some young guys now. You’re asked to do a lot more things. You have a lot more opportunities at foreign events. You can wear yourself out very quickly and lose sight of what’s most important.”

Glover says he doesn’t have a high tolerance for traveling, so he probably won’t be spending much time overseas, playing in various Appearance Fee Opens. In fact, the perk he seems most excited about is the possibility of throwing out the first pitch at a Yankees game.

“That’s pretty cool,” says the new U.S. Open champ from his vantage point on Cloud 4.

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