By Jeff Mills
Special to the Wyndham Championship
GREENSBORO, N.C. — Lucas Glover had waited 19 years for this moment. So waiting an extra 2 hours and 3 minutes for a line of thunderstorms to pass through was no big deal at all.
Glover shot a 2-under 68 in the rain-delayed final round of the Wyndham Championship on Sunday, finishing the tournament at 20-under par for a two-stroke victory over Russell Henley and Byeong Hun An.
It’s the eighth professional win and his fifth on the PGA TOUR for the Clemson University alumnus, who started the week 112th in the FedEx Cup points standings and jumped all the way to 49th with the win. Only the top 70 qualify for the St. Jude Championship in Memphis next week, the first FedExCup Playoffs tournament.
“The last time I played Memphis, I played very well, so I’m excited to get back there,” Glover said. “I don’t have any plans yet, but we’ll figure it out. I’m going to let this one soak in, then get my body and mind right and get back to work Tuesday or Wednesday.”
There’s a lot to soak up.
The 43-year-old Glover finally won in his 19th Wyndham Championship, a tournament he has played every year since turning professional in 2004. And he won on a beloved golf course. Although he grew up in Greenville, S.C., Glover played Sedgefield Country Club’s classic Donald Ross course often.
“It’s huge for me, obviously,” Glover said. “Greensboro is pretty close to home, and I had a lot of family who lived here when I was growing up. I spent a lot of time here. A couple of my uncles were Sedgefield members, and our family came up here a good bit. I remember the pool, and I thought it was the best pool ever because it had a high dive.
“So, yeah, this is very special. I’ve known Mark (Brazil) and Bobby (Powell) on the staff here for 30 years. They run a great event, and the Wyndham guys always treat us great. I’ve always had a pretty fond place in my heart for this course, and I always seem to feel good when I get here.”
Glover, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, made a bogey and three birdies in his final round at the Wyndham Championship. Playing in the final pairing, he was among five groups still on the golf course when the weather horn blew.
When play finally resumed, he made five consecutive pars to secure his victory ― including one final par on the 18th hole helped by a fortunate bounce, when his tee shot struck a parked golf cart and ricocheted back toward the fairway.
When that last par putt dropped, Glover’s two children ran onto the 18th green to hug dad. His daughter in tears, while his son shouted, “Daddy, you won! You won!”
It’s the first time they had seen Glover win, a victory that came on what would’ve been his late grandfather Dick Hendley’s 97th birthday. Hendley taught young Lucas the game starting at age 3.
“He got me started playing, and he was my mentor and my hero and all that stuff,” Glover said. “I tried not to think about it too much until the end there. I like to think I had a leg up on everybody today because of that.”
A host of family were in Glover’s gallery Sunday ― his children, mother, three uncles, aunts, cousins, second cousins ― along with several close friends.
What they witnessed was nothing short of redemption, a life-lesson in persistence and perseverance.
Out of desperation earlier this year, Glover switched to a long putter, a new putting grip and putting stroke.
He made the change during two weeks off before The Memorial.
It only changed everything.
“I made up my mind something was going to change,” Glover said. “I was going to try the long one, and if that didn’t feel good, I was going to try putting left-handed. That’s how far down the road I was. Nothing I did worked, nothing I practiced worked. My brain was just fried. Ten years of dealing with it, and not understanding it and not realizing or not comprehending how it could happen that I could just lose all feelings over a 10-inch putt. It was frustrating. I fought it for a long time.”
Glover can pinpoint the first time he got the yips ― “Oh yeah, 100 percent it’s the yips,” he said ― 10 years ago: an uncharacteristic, random four-putt out of nowhere on the No. 5 green in the first round of The Colonial.
All these years later, the long putter seems to have solved it.
“I just ordered one and asked for Adam Scott specs from the putter rep because we’re about the same height,” Glover said. “I told the rep, ‘I don’t want to know anything else, and I’ll teach myself how to do this.’ I spent a couple days in the garage, figured out how to stand. Took it to the practice green and spent about 10 days working on it. Took it to The Memorial and putted nice. My misses weren’t that crazy, awful, yippy stroke; they were just misses. And that’s OK.”
Here in Greensboro, we’ve seen those painful yips up close, before Glover rebuilt his putting stroke.
“This is a completely different motor skill and just a way to rewire my brain,” Glover said. “It’s obviously what I needed because now if it’s a miss, it’s because of the speed or the read or just a bad stroke. It’s not the nervy, hand-shaking, just complete loss ― the never-played-this-game-before-type hook, which I did here. I had a putt for 59 here a few years ago and left it short. I yipped the next one and shot 61. … So this has been a revelation for me.”
It’s a revelation that helped Lucas Glover finally win the Wyndham Championship after years of waiting, closing it out on an emotional Sunday in his home away from home.
In 21 years at the Greensboro News & Record, sports writer Jeff Mills won 10 national and 12 state writing awards from the Associated Press Sports Editors, the Society for Features Journalism, and the N.C. Press Association.