PEBBLE BEACH — It’s amazing where a golfer can find confidence. Just ask former U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover, who took a second-place finish in last year’s Web.com Tour Championship and has begun to build a solid season for himself on the PGA Tour.
Glover captured the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, but hasn’t won anything since the 2011 Wells Fargo Championship, a span of 189 events on the PGA Tour in which he’s had just nine top-10 finishes. His visit to the Web.com Tour Finals was his second in four years as he has largely been searching for a semblance of consistency, if not excellence.
But the South Carolina native, one of the most introspective players in golf—and arguably the most well-read—is enjoying a resurgence that continues at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Glover, 39, fired a six-under 66 Friday at Pebble Beach Golf Links before rain suspended play for the day, and he has a share of the 36-hole lead— at least overnight. He’s tied at 10 under par with Phil Mickelson, Paul Casey, Scott Langley and Jordan Spieth, although Spieth, who won here in 2017, has two holes remaining at Spyglass Hill when play resumes at 7:10 a.m. PST. There, too, is Jason Day at nine under with three holes left at Spyglass.
(Glover might be rooting for Spieth or Day to take the solo lead before the third round begins; Glover has never converted a 36-hole lead into a victory.)
Had Glover not been successful in the Web.com Tour Finals, he still could have played this year on a major medical extension, having missed the remainder of the 2018 PGA Tour season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee following a missed cut at the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills.
The Finals weren’t shaping up as anything special until shooting 19-under 265 at Atlantic Beach Country Club to finish second behind Denny McCarthy. “It just showed me that what I had been working on leading up to that was the right stuff,” Glover said of his performance last September in Florida. “Anytime you play well like that, you get confidence. That was huge.”
Though he missed the cut last week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Glover was not discouraged, having finished no worse than 17th in his previous five starts, including T-7 at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas.
“A slight hiccup last week, but it’s motivating at the same time,” he said, noting that he worked out a few kinks over the weekend.
His 10-under 134 total is his lowest in six career starts in this event while making the cut for just the second time. He had seven birdies against one bogey on Friday, helped along by making 128 feet of putts after hitting 15 greens in regulation. That last stat is a welcome sign for a handsy but usually proficient ball-striker like Glover, who ranked 125th last year in strokes gained/approach the green before being sidelined.
“I played nice,” he said as the rain started to fall on the Monterey Peninsula. “I got off to a great start, birdied two, three, four. And if there is such a thing as a good five on eight, I made it. So and that kind of, that honestly kind of kept the momentum going. To give up another one there, that kind of takes its toll. Then I got through nine and 10 unscathed and got one again on 11. I played real solid. I drove it a little better today and made a few more putts.”
Before the knee injury, Glover was in the news for other problems not of his own making, a domestic violence issue in which his wife, Krista, allegedly struck him and Glover’s mother last May after he missed the cut at the Players Championship. The case recently was closed with Krista sentenced to probation.
It’s worth mentioning only in that the incident, widely reported, has been one more thing for the golfer to overcome, and he appears in a better place, something all golfers require to be able to compete at their best.
Glover is getting there. He last held a 36-hole lead at the 2013 John Deere Classic, where he ended up T-15. Like any competitor, he knows there is good golf still in him.
“I’d like to get [the] money and trophy every Sunday evening,” he said. “I still think I can do it, and I want to do it.”
And he’s getting closer to doing it, if not this week then perhaps in the near future.