Backspin -

By Mercer BaggsJune 29, 2009, 4:00 pm
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LIKE A GLOVE(R): Lucas Glover won the 109th United States Open at Bethpage Black, finishing at 4-under 276. The 29-year-old South Carolinian made only one birdie in shooting a final-round 3-over 73, but still finished two shots clear of David Duval, Phil Mickelson and Ricky Barnes.
 
Backspin How unlikely was this win? Glover had won only once on the PGA Tour, had never made a cut in the U.S. Open, and had never finished better than T-20 in a major championship. But thanks to some steady play over his final nine holes and a multitude of mistakes by the rest of the challengers, Glover got his named etched alongside Woods, Nicklaus, Palmer and just about every other legend to ever play the game.
 

 
GIVE HIM FIVE: Phil Mickelson claimed his record fifth U.S. Open runner-up finish, shooting even-par 70 in the final round to finish at 2-under 278. Mickelson grabbed a share of the lead with an eagle at the par-5 13th, but bogeyed two of his final four holes for another disappointing Open result.
 
Backspin There was the scene: New York. There was the storyline: a wife with breast cancer. And there was the moment: the eagle that earned him a share of the lead with five holes to play. Even the ultimate Mickelson pessimist had to think that this was finally his time. But it wasn't. Maybe it's just not meant to be.
 

 
FROM NO. 882 to T-2: David Duval earned his best finish since winning the 2001 Open Championship, rallying for a tie for second. Duval began his day with a plugged tee shot at the par-3 third, which led to a triple bogey. Undaunted, he birdied holes 14, 15 and 16 to grab a share of the lead, before brutally lipping out a par putt at 17.
 
Backspin This was an unbelievable performance by Duval, one that most people never saw coming ' but some did (kind of). Duval will lament his Monday misfortune, but he will also take a lot of positives out of this week, including locking up his Tour card for next year. If there is one negative that will come out of all of this, it's that people's expectations of him ' and his exposure ' will increase dramatically. Duval has always seemed more comfortable out of the spotlight.
 

 
BARNES DOOR OPEN: Ricky Barnes led by as many as six strokes in the third round, became just the fourth player to ever reach double digits under par in a U.S. Open, and had sole possession of the lead entering the final stanza. He then closed in 6-over 76 to tie for second.
 
Backspin I have 20/400 vision and I could see Barnes' meltdown coming. Still, it didn't make it any less painful to watch. I'm going to go home tonight and watch replay after replay of Lawrence Taylor breaking Joe Theisman's leg just to get the image of Barnes' swing out of my head.
 

 
STUCK ON 14: Tiger Woods finished 72 holes at Bethpage right where he started, at even par, good for a tie for sixth. Woods, who spent the entire tournament playing catch up, didn't reach red figures until making a birdie putt on the 14th hole Monday. He didn't stay there long, however, as he bogeyed the very next hole.
 
Backspin Tiger ' or Tiger proponents ' can blame the draw or his closing four holes in the fist round (which he played in 4 over), but the fact is: Tiger had a chance to win on Monday. He just wasn't good enough. Woods didn't make the putts he needed to in order to win. He didn't deserve this one.
 

 
PLEASE MAKE IT START ... AND STOP: The opening day of the 109th U.S. Open at Bethpage was washed out due to incessant rain, and the championship never caught up. The third round didn't begin until Saturday night, with the final round getting underway Sunday evening. The United Stop-and-Start Open finally concluded Monday around 1:25 p.m. ET.
 
Backspin This was a brutal Open all the way around ' for the players, the caddies, the officials, the media, and even the fans. A Mickelson victory would have overshadowed all of the negatives. But that didn't happen. And this Open ' except in the opinion of Glover ' was far from a classic.
 

 
WE MISSED YOU: Inevitably, some of the players you think might contend for the title end up missing the cut. At this particular major that list included: Masters runner-up Chad Campbell, Paul Casey, Luke Donald, Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington, Zach Johnson and David Toms.
 
Backspin Of all the disappointments, two stand out ' and neither are Harrington (the way he's played this year, it's not surprising he missed out on the final two rounds). The first is Casey. Here comes Mr. No. 3 in the World and he shoots 75-75 to miss the cut by six. For all the youthful talent around the world (Casey, Scott, Kim, Donald, Poulter, Garcia, etc.), none have a major victory ' except Lucas Glover. Then there is Els, who shot 78-77 to miss the cut by 11 shots. You don't want to pick on the guy ' because you never know what's going on in his personal life ' but it doesn't seem like he ever recovered from losing to Phil Mickelson in the 2006 Masters. And may never will.
 

 
REMEMBERING PAYNE: This year marked the 10th anniversary of Payne Stewart's dramatic U.S. Open triumph at Pinehurst, in which he made a 15-foot putt on the 72nd hole to defeat Phil Mickelson. Stewart perished four months later in a plane crash.
 
Backspin Just as no one who witnessed the 1999 U.S. Open will ever forget it, no one who ever saw Payne Stewart play will ever forget him. For all of the run-of-the-mill players on Tour today, Stewart was irreplaceable. October 25 will officially mark the 10-year anniversary of when the plane he was flying in crashed in Aberdeen, S.D.
 

 
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Michelle Wie and Natalie Gulbis were among the notable players who failed to make it through qualifying for the U.S. Women's Open. ... John Daly was involved in an automobile accident when the fan and awnings from his RV were ripped off in a tunnel and hit another car. ... Chris Smith's wife was killed in an automobile accident.
 
BackspinNo Wie? They might as well just cancel the event. ... Somehow Daly will blame this on the victim. ... Smith's two children were also in critical condition. Just a true Father's Day tragedy.
 
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