The Heart Grows Fonder

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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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