The Heart Grows Fonder

By Rex HoggardFebruary 11, 2009, 5:00 pm
When Lucas Glover talks, his points are delivered in quick, to-the-point bursts. Like his golf swing, there is no wasted energy, just rapid-fire reality without a hint of ambiguity or hyperbole.
Its a matter-of-fact style a young Glover gleaned from his grandfather, former Pittsburgh Steeler Dick Hendley, and a double-edged blessing/occupational hazard for anyone whose day job can often include unhealthy amounts of inner dialogue and constant self-evaluation.
Lucas Glover at the Buick Invitational
Lucas Glover is off to the best start of his career. (Getty Images)
Its what drove Glover out of the scoring trailer at last years BMW Championship and into the longest self-imposed hiatus of his competitive career.
I get down on myself. I wasnt playing any good, wasnt having any fun. I always said if it wasnt fun theres no use in being out here, Glover reasons. I was playing bad and I took the job home with me. I always said I wouldnt do that, so when I started to I packed it in.
When Glover put his golf clubs away after last falls BMW, the closing chapter of his worst statistical year on Tour since his 2004 rookie campaign, hed already set his offseason agenda. Fishing, lunches with his grandparents and time with his wife would replace countless repetitions on some lonely practice tee.
From Sept. 8, the day after his final round in St. Louis, Mo., until mid-November, Glover played just twice and only because hed already agreed to participate in a pair of outings. He skipped all of the Fall Series events including the Childrens Miracle Network Classic, which he won in 2005. The game, Glover reasoned, could wait.
Usually, eight, 10 days (without playing) is a long time, he says. My attitude stunk. Wasnt hitting it good, wasnt putting it good. It all snowballed, I guess.
Instead, Glover reset his competitive clock by walking away, however temporarily, from the game that has defined him since Hendley put a club in grandsons hands.
In a spreadsheet, 2008 could hardly be counted a disaster. Glover missed just six cuts in 26 events, recorded two top 10s and managed to advance to the third round of the FedEx Cup playoffs. Good enough maybe to keep a Tour card and pay the bills, but when youve been conditioned to measure success on the hardware collecting dust on your mantel, good enough is a three-putt from five feet.
There were no shortage of competitive culprits. At 29, Glover admits his 6-foot-2 frame doesnt recover like it used to. Hed also endured two of the toughest psychological cycles of his career.
In February 2006, Glovers long-time swing coach Dick Harmon died. It was a blow that was compounded when Glover narrowly missed earning a spot on that years U.S. Ryder Cup team. Glover would earn a spot on the 07 Presidents Cup team, but it wasnt easy. All total, when he began his 08 season the physical exhaustion was evident.
Part of his frustration was that hed played so well, then you just hit the wall, says Randy Myers, the director of fitness at Sea Island (Ga.) Resort and Glovers trainer. No one should play golf because they have to, it should be because they want to.
Slowly, the batteries recharged and in mid-December the competitive epiphany arrived.
Jennifer (Glovers wife) asked what I missed most and I said all my buddies are (on Tour), Glover recalls. She asked if I missed playing yet? And I said, Yeah. It was about the first time I was ready to get back out there. It gets to be an itch.
Glover returned to the practice tee, but more importantly he hit the gym with Myers with a clear mission. His weight had climbed above 200 pounds and he realized he wasnt producing on Sundays like he had in the past.
Glovers final-round scoring average had soared to 71.21 strokes, dropping him to 98th on Tour in what many concede is one of the more important statistical categories. That was more than stroke higher than his 2005 average (70.13).
You look back at my first few years I played really good on Sunday, Glover says. In (2004, 05 and 06) I was good on Sunday. In (2007 and 08) I wasnt. Im not much of a stat guy but it had to be something. Maybe I was just tired.
Glover made three trips to Sea Island for what Myers calls physical boot camps. For seven to 10 days, the two focused on Glovers flexibility and core strength with a mixture of boxing and lateral shuffle drills.
He was easier to coach this year. He was a little more refreshed and committed to the plan, Myers says. Him taking off last fall was the mature thing to do.
The payoff came on Sunday at the Bob Hope Classic, the longest week of the Tour year, when Glover closed with rounds of 67-68 on the weekend to tie for 19th. A week later he rallied with a Sunday 69 to finish 42nd at the FBR Open and was nearly flawless at Torrey Pines to finish tied for third.
With one more event on his dance card, the Northern Trust Open, Glover has already recorded the best West Coast swing of his career.
But Glover is far too grounded to let a hot West Coast lull him into competitive complacency, and hes reluctant to dub his 08 hiatus an unquantifiable success. He is, however, quick to point out the perks of his first professional lapse.
I took my grandparents to lunch three days a week, he smiles. My grandpa is my best friend.
It is signature moment of instant clarity, and suddenly it all makes sense.

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McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.

Rahm wins finale, Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 1:42 pm

Jon Rahm captured the final tournament on the European Tour calendar, a result that helped Tommy Fleetwood take home the season-long Race to Dubai title.

Rahm shot a final-round 67 to finish two shots clear of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Shane Lowry at the DP World Tour Championship. It's the second European Tour win of the year for the Spaniard, who also captured the Irish Open and won on the PGA Tour in January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

"I could not be more proud of what I've done this week," Rahm told reporters. "Having the weekend that I've had, actually shooting 12 under on the last 36 holes, bogey-free round today, it's really special."

But the key finish came from Justin Rose, who held the 54-hole lead in Dubai but dropped back into a tie for fourth after closing with a 70. Rose entered the week as one of only three players who could win the Race to Dubai, along with Sergio Garcia and Fleetwood, who started with a lead of around 250,000 Euros.

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With Fleetwood in the middle of the tournament pack, ultimately tying for 21st after a final-round 74, the door was open for Rose to capture the title thanks to a late charge despite playing in half the events that Fleetwood did. Rose captured both the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open, and was one round away from a two-trophy photo shoot in Dubai.

Instead, his T-4 finish meant he came up just short, as Fleetwood won the season-long race by 58,821 Euros.

The title caps a remarkable season for Fleetwood, who won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship as well as the French Open to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open.

"I find it amazing, the season starts in November, December and you get to here and you're watching the last shot of the season to decide who wins the Race to Dubai," Fleetwood said at the trophy ceremony. "But yeah, very special and something we didn't really aim for at the start of the year, but it's happened."

Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 2:05 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.

A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.

In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.

“I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”

Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.

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Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

“I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.

Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.

“We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”

How does she feel?

“I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”

Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.

New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:32 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.

Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.

She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.

“I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”

Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.

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Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.

“Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.

Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.

“I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”