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Winning never gets old.
Lucas Glover, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, can attest. The 41-year-old PGA Tour veteran made four birdies in a row on the back nine en route to shooting 7-under 64 to win the John Deere Classic by two strokes over Kevin Na and Ryan Moore in Silvis, Illinois.
In doing so, Glover tasted victory for the first time since the 2011 Wells Fargo Championship, a span of 10 years, 2 months and three days.
“I think I did a good job of keeping the pedal down,” Glover said. “There were too many great players behind me, and the golf course was giving up too many birdies, just because of the conditions.”
At no point during the 10-year winless drought did Glover’s swing need an overhaul. He’s long been considered one of the Tour’s best ballstrikers. As proof, he ranked fourth this week in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and third in Strokes Gained: Approach. But putting woes have gnawed at Glover during his winless stretch – he entered the week ranked No. 120 in Strokes Gained: Putting – and he’s tried an assortment of drills to break the spell. Too many, he said.
“If there was something to try, I’m sure I’ve tried it,” he once told Golfweek. That included putting with his eyes closed while looking at the hole “to feel the stroke instead of feeling the hit.”
Glover found his groove in the second round at TPC Deere Run, shooting 8-under 63, as his putter behaved.
“If you’re putting OK you’re going to make some birdies, which is always a good feeling,” he said of the longtime tournament course.
One day later, the putter betrayed him as he missed a couple short ones to shoot 70 and trailed 54-hole leader Sebastian Munoz by four strokes.
“Most people pick up putts from the length that he’s missed this week,” CBS analyst Colt Knost noted.
But not on Sunday, when preferred lies were in effect for the final round due to heavy rain over the weekend, leaving the course playing soft, long and vulnerable to low scoring. Twenty-one players were within five shots of the lead entering Sunday’s final round of the John Deere Classic, setting up an exciting finish that did not disappoint. As Munoz stumbled early, shanking his second shot at the opening hole, and Adam Schenk surged into the lead with his own string of four birdies in a five-hole stretch, Glover caught fire beginning at No. 12 with four birdies in a row to climb to 18 under. That combined with a Schenk bogey at 14, gave Glover a two-stroke lead. He tacked on one last birdie at No. 17 to finish at 19-under 265, and become the seventh player to win a PGA Tour event in the 2000s, 2010s, and 2020s.
Glover, ranked No. 115th in the world, showed signs that he was on the verge of a breakthrough, notching a fourth-place finish at the Valero Texas Open in April, which marked his best result on Tour since finishing third at the 2016 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. But could he close out his fourth Tour title and join 40-somethings like Stewart Cink and Brian Gay – not to mention 50-year-old Phil Mickelson – as winners this season? Of his most notable achievement, his U.S. Open victory in 2009, Glover said, “Sometimes it seems like yesterday, sometimes it seems like 20 years ago.”
He remembered how to get it done in crunch time and his short stick proved to be the difference-maker. He took just 25 putts on Sunday and gained more than 2 ½ strokes against the field on the greens. Moreover, he holed all his putts from inside seven feet, the distance that has most haunted him. That included a 6-foot par putt at 18.
“It was a knee-knocker. I was feeling it a little bit,” he said. “The greens today were just perfect.”
As was that winning feeling again.