Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Art....or a Reasonable Facsimile Thereof

NBC and the USGA did not get exactly their hoped-for finish to this year's United States Open Golf Championship, which was finally completed yesterday at the monstrous course known as Bethpage Black. Given the well-documented fight that his wife Amy did not start, but nevertheless now will work damned hard to win, the fans' choice to win this weekend was Phil Mickelson. And he certainly came close to fulfilling their wish - and his. Mickelson stalked the pace for a while during the final round and then burst into a tie for the lead with four holes remaining. Alas, he played the final two holes in two over par, which resigned him to a tie for second and deprived the network, the golf establishment and scores of golf fans everywhere of the storybook ending for which they had hoped.

But fans of good drama did not recede from the wilds of Long Island deprived of a good story. They simply received it from an unexpected source. For now to be forever etched into the trophy that bears the names of such past champions as Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Tiger Woods is the '09 winner, Lucas Glover.

If Glover is not the real-life embodiment of Roy "Tin Cup" McAvoy, then he is the closest thing that we may have seen and may ever see to him. Glover was a qualifier for this year's Open, meaning simply that he did not have an automatic invite - he had to play his way in (if you are a college hoops fan, think of him as having received an "at large" bid to the NCAA basketball tournament, it is not a perfect analogy but it will do). In doing so, he qualified for the right to compete in a championship in which he had never survived the cut - meaning that he played on Thursday, played on Friday and was out of town before sunrise on Saturday morning. It was appropriate to wonder how Glover would handle the pressure of being tied for the lead going into the final round of the Open, considering that up until this year he had seen the final round of the Open the same way I see it annually - on a television set.

On ESPN.com this morning, Glover is described as, "The 29-year-old from South Carolina, who chews tobacco and listens to Sinatra." With his win in one of his sport's four major championships, Glover has now doubled his career win total. One is left to wonder just how sparkly his U.S. Open Championship Trophy shall look on the fireplace mantel when juxtaposed against the trophy he received for winning the 2005 Funai Classic at Walt Disney World.

All in all, while it was not the ending that the screenwriters would have written if life were not indeed the original unscripted drama, it was a nice ending nonetheless. Whether Lucas Glover now bursts into golf's upper echelon or burns brightly for a time, fades out and disappears totally from view remains to be seen. And whichever arc his star travels matters not. Regardless of the future's uncertainty, this much is clear. The present - this moment, right here and right now - belongs to Lucas Glover. And even if he never has another such moment, he will forever have this one.

At day's end, who could ask for anything more?


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