Glover stays hot at SBS Championship


SBS Championship

KAPALUA, Hawaii – The winners assembled at Kapalua are pampered like no other stop on the PGA Tour.

They get a free room at the Ritz-Carlton with magnificent views of the Maui coastline, amenities that include a butler-drawn bath and spa treatment. It’s the easiest tournament all year to win with only 28 players, and no cut means free money.

Hardly anyone expects paradise inside the ropes, too.

On another day of relatively calm conditions Friday, Lucas Glover had another hot stretch that carried him to an 8-under 65 in the SBS Championship, giving him a three-shot lead over John Rollins and the lowest 36-hole score at Kapalua in five years.

“We were talking about this at breakfast,” he said. “Nobody who’s been to Hawaii has seen it this calm. This is nice for us. We get to be a little more aggressive. Club selection is a lot easier. I wouldn’t mind seeing it come up and having some goofy stuff go on, just for fun.”

Glover couldn’t help but notice on his way to the Plantation Course on Friday that the Pacific Ocean had rarely looked so still, an expanse of deep blue without the raging white caps produced by the typical trade win. Rollins watches this tournament on TV when he’s not eligible, and he usually sees flags and trousers whipping in the wind.

“You come over with the mindset the wind is going to howl,” Rollins said. “If I’m home watching in on TV, guys pants are whipping in the wind, they’re hitting short clubs from crazy yardages, they’re defensive on every shot. To get rounds like this is fantastic.”

That doesn’t make winning any easier.

Glover was at 15-under 131 and will be in the last pairing Saturday with Rollins, who played bogey-free for a 66.

The group at 11-under 135 featured defending champion Geoff Ogilvy (66), Sean O’Hair (67), Matt Kuchar (68) and Martin Laird (68), with Masters champion Angel Cabrera slowing after a good start for a 68 that put him five shots behind.

If not for Glover’s big surge, it could have been really tight.

Early in the second round, 11 players were tied for the lead at 7 under. Glover was making pars and losing ground until he turned it around with a 7-iron into the par-5 sixth green and a two-putt birdie. That was the start of a six-hole stretch that he played in 6 under, and another run of birdies on the back nine put him ahead.

Even so, one par was as meaningful as some of his birdies.

After running off three straight birdies, Glover hit into a bunker on the par-3 eighth and couldn’t believe his bad luck when the ball ran down the face and all the way to the back of the bunker, on a slight slope, forcing him to play the shot with both feet out of the sand. He did well to blast out to 12 feet and make par.

“That felt good taking that to the ninth tee,” he said.

Glover hit a pair of 3-woods, the second one to 12 feet for an eagle, then he stuffed a wedge inside 4 feet on the 10th for birdie.

Just like that, he was back in control, and Glover made sure he stayed there with a few more birdies late in his round, including a wedge that bounced off the flag at the 16th and settled next to the cup.

“I’m pretty aggressive, anyway, so I’m going to have to pick my spots,” Glover said. “I’m going to have to make some birdies. These guys are the best players in the world, and they’re going to be coming after me.”

O’Hair noticed Glover at 11 under when he walked off the 13th green. The next time he saw a leaderboard along the 17th fairway, he saw Glover at 14 under, and everyone else moving up a couple of notches, too.

“There’s quite a few players out there that can win this thing and are playing some nice golf,” O’Hair said.

Glover had the lowest 36-hole score at Kapalua since Vijay Singh also was at 131 in 2005. The record was a 17-under 129 by Ernie Els in 2003, when he set a PGA Tour record at 31 under for a 72-hole event.

More wind might make a three-shot lead feel like nothing. Even in peaceful conditions, Glover realizes he has a long way to go.

“It’ll be hard to catch him if he’s playing as well as he is,” Ogilvy said. “But he’s going to have to keep playing well. In the wind, four or five shots can disappear. But if he’s even par on the front nine, three-fourths of that lead could be gone. We all know that if the weather is benign, we have to go low.”

Ogilvy played bogey-free and continues to pitch the ball cleanly, which he did last year in winning by six shots. O’Hair made a late push when he saw Glover’s score, pounding a 3-wood on the final hole that set up an eagle.

“You don’t see a leaderboard for three holes, and everyone is two shots better than the last time you saw one,” Ogilvy said.

He might want to get used to that. Moderate wind is expected for the weekend.