From the publishers of THE HINDU
VOL.32 :: NO.27 :: Jul. 04, 2009
The 2009 U.S. Open, sodden and unlovely for the most part, stumbled finally to an error-strewn but thrilling conclusion before Lucas Glover, a 29-year-old American whose last tournament victory came four years ago at Disney World, walked away with the second major championship of the year.
The champion, ranked No. 71 in the world, started crying as he walked off the 18th green, a winner by two shots. It was safe to assume tears will have been shed elsewhere, albeit for entirely different reasons.
Before Glover rolled in a tap-in putt for par on the 72nd to secure his victory any number of outcomes seemed possible as the leaders headed into the last few holes, the most enticing of which was the prospect of a victory for either Phil Mickelson, the crowd favourite who had vowed to take this trophy home to his ailing wife Amy, or David Duval, the Lazarus of world-class golf, who was briefly tied for the lead before bogeying the penultimate hole to fall into second place with Mickelson and Ricky Barnes.
The Englishman Ross Fisher was another who caught a fleeting glimpse of the prize, not least when he eagled the 13th hole to pull within one shot of the leaders, but in the end he was undone by his putting. "I feel like I've hit the ball better than I ever have in a tournament," he said afterwards, a study in thwarted am- bition. "Not to be funny or anything but, if I had holed a couple of putts, I feel like I could have won this comfortably."
In the short term fisher said he was off back home to work on his short game. Longer term, it is wellnigh impossible to believe that this was his only shot at major championship glory. He is blessed with a beautiful, fluid swing and a temperament that on the evidence of his performance possesses the necessary fortitude for these occasions. He will get another chance to prove as much on the links at Turnberry, where the Open Championship will be staged.
Fisher was in exalted company when it came to putting woes. Tiger Woods, who finished tied for sixth on level par, was another who struck the ball well from tee to green but poorly with the putter. "That's just what it is," the world No. 1 said afterwards - his "go to" cliche when battling to disguise disappointment, anger or indeed most human emotions.
After two rounds woods was 11 shots behind the then leader, Barnes, but still clawed his way back into contention. Admittedly, Barnes was never expected to hold up - and he capitulated spectacularly - but Woods was surely alone in thinking this was his tournament to win after his opening-round 74, four over par.
A birdie with his last putt reduced the deficit to seven shots and made believers out of some. A dropped shot at the 10th would have knocked the fight out of anyone else but notWoods, who proceeded to hit a string of wonderful shots and picked up two shots against par. The decisive, or more accurately, the indecisive shot came at the 15th hole, where he chose the wrong club and left his ball in the rough beyond the flag. "It was just so frustrating. I stripped the ball all week," he said, noting that he was four-over par at the 15th for the week.
Not for him the consolation of being the "winner" among those players who found themselves punished for being on that side of the draw most badly affected by the weather delays that wrought havoc with the tournament.
There remains, however, a strong suspicion that he is close to becoming the dominant player he was at the start of this decade and then again in 2006 when he won two majors and six other tournaments. Like Fisher, he will take his game to the west coast of Scotland brimming with confidence.
One man who will not be at the Open in July, however, is Mickelson. This was in all likelihood his last competitive appearance for the foreseeable future. He departed Bethpage for California to pick up his children and his wife Amy, who will begin treatment for breast cancer when the family returns from a holiday.
The second-place finish was Mickelson's fifth in this tournament - another disappointment, undoubtedly, but not on the scale of, say, Winged Foot 2006. "There are some other, more important, things going on - oh well," he said. "This is my fifth runner-up but I think it is more in perspective for me. I feel different this time."
If Mickelson's attitude was perfectly understandable, so too was the stunned look on Glover's face as he sought to come to terms with his achievement. His only previous victory on the PGA Tour came at the 2005 FUNI Classic at Disney World - a moment in the game's history remembered by few. This win, however, will go down in history. "I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous. The knees were knocking pretty good on the 16th, 17th and 18th holes but I executed pretty well and played some good golf shots," he said. "I dreamt about this as a kid and I pulled it off."
The scores after the final round of play at the U.S. Open at the par-70 Bethpage State Park (Black Course).
276: Lucas Glover (U.S.) 69-64-70-73.
278: Ricky Barnes (U.S.) 67-65-70-76; Phil Mickelson (U.S.) 69-70-69-70; David Duval (U.S.) 67-70-70-71.
279: Ross Fisher (England) 70-68-69-72.
280: Hunter Mahan (U.S.) 72-68-68-72; Tiger Woods (U.S.) 74-69-68-69; Soren Hansen (Denmark) 70-71-70-69.
281: Henrik Stenson (Sweden) 73-70-70-68.
282: Mike Weir (Canada) 64-70-74-74; Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland) 72-70-72-68; Matt Bettencourt (U.S.) 75-67-71-69; Sergio Garcia (Spain) 70-70-72-70; Ryan Moore (U.S.) 70-69-72-71; Stephen Ames (Canada) 74-66-70-66.
283: Retief Goosen (South Africa) 73-68-68-74; Anthony Kim (U.S.) 71-71-71-70.
284: Peter Hanson (Sweden) 66-71-73-74; Graeme McDowell (Northern Ireland) 69-72-69-74; Bubba Watson (U.S.) 72-70-67-75; Ian Poulter (England) 70-74-73-67; Michael Sim (Australia) 71-70-71-72.
285: Steve Stricker (U.S.) 73-66-72-66; Sean O’Hair (U.S.) 69-69-71-76; Lee Westwood (England) 72-66-74-73; Oliver Wilson (England) 70-70-71-74.
286: J. B. Holmes (U.S.) 73-67-73-73; Stewart Cink (U.S.) 73-69-70-74; Johan Edfors (Sweden) 70-74-68-74; Azuma Yano (Japan) 72-65-77-72; Vijay Singh (Fiji) 72-72-73-69; Francesco Molinari (Italy) 71-70-74-71.
287: Kevin Sutherland (U.S.) 71-73-73-70; Camilo Villegas (Colombia) 71-71-72-73; Jim Furyk (U.S.) 72-69-74-72.
288: Adam Scott (Australia) 69-71-73-75; Carl Pettersson (Sweden) 75-68-73-72; Nick Taylor (Canada) 73-65-75-75; Todd Hamilton (U.S.) 67-71-71-79.
289: Dustin Johnson (U.S.) 72-69-76-72; Drew Weaver (U.S.) 69-72-74-74; Billy Mayfair (U.S.) 73-70-72-74; Tim Clark (South Africa) 73-71-74-71.
290: Kenny Perry (U.S.) 71-72-75-72.
291: John Mallinger (U.S.) 71-70-72-78; Thomas Levet (France) 72-72-71-76.
292: Gary Woodland (U.S.) 73-66-76-77; Tom Lehman (U.S.) 71-73-74-74; K. J. Choi (South Korea) 72-71-76-73; Rocco Mediate (U.S.) 68-73-79-72; Andres Romero (France) 73-70-77-72; Geoff Ogilvy (Australia) 73-67-77-75.
293: Kyle Stanley (U.S.) 70-74-74-75.
294: Andrew McLardy (South Africa) 71-72-75-76; Angel Cabrera (Argentina) 74-69-75-76; Jean-Francois Lucquin (France) 73-71-75-75.
296: Ben Curtis (U.S.) 72-71-74-79.
297: Trevor Murphy (U.S.) 71-69-77-80; Jeff Brehaut (U.S.) 70-72-81-74.
301: Fred Funk (U.S.) 70-74-75-82.
© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2009
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