It Was A Long Road Back
11 Aug,2023

By Tim Liotta


It Was A Long Road Back

Lucas Glover has proven that even former U.S. Open champions reach the point where they'll try anything to re-connect with the golf game they know have in them. And he has proven, no matter how long the search takes, an answer can be out there somewhere. 

After more than 10 years of searching for way to overcome putting yips, a string of disappointing results this season had driven the 43-year-old 2009 U.S. Open champ to abandon his conventional putting method once and for all. He used a two-week break in May to order a long putter and teach himself how to use it, starting out in his garage.

“I made up my mind something was going to change then,” Glover said after his victory at the Wyndham Championship on Sunday. “I was going to try the long one and if that didn't feel good, I was going to try left‑handed. That's how far down the road I was."

Down the road of frustration. Since winning the 2021 John Deere using an arm-lock putting method that proved only a temporary fix, Lucas made 50 PGA Tour starts, posting just two top-5s, two more top-25s, with 22 missed cuts along the way. 


And it had gotten worse. In his 17 starts in this 2022-23 season, he missed 9 cuts and failed to finish better than 36th.

“Nothing I did worked, nothing I practiced worked. Brain was just fried," Glover said. "Ten years of dealing with it and not understanding it and not realizing or not comprehending how it could happen that I could just lose all feelings over a 10‑inch putt. It was frustrating. I fought it for a long time.”

No longer trusting his hands on a putter, Glover working with PGA Tour pro-turned-TV analyst Brad Faxon, who also works with Rory McIlroy among others. When Glover's string of poor results continued, Faxon weren’t there, Faxon suggested the long putter.

“I just ordered one and asked for Adam Scott specs from the putter rep,” Glover said. “I said, ‘We're about the same height, I don't want to know anything else, and I'll teach myself how to do this.’”

He began in his garage, teaching himself how to stand, how to hold the putter, how to make a stroke, developing what he referred to as "a whole new brain function." 

Glover took his rebuilt approach to putting to the practice green about 10 days prior to the Memorial, and even though he didn't make the cut there, he was encouraged. 

“My misses weren't that crazy, awful, yippy stroke – they were just misses,” Glover said. “And that's OK. 

"So then, once I figured out my tendencies with it, it became fun to kind of teach myself."

Glover went on to add, "if you ever want a Tour player to practice more, you give them a new club because they've got to get used to it, figure it out.”

Glover has done just that. In the eight starts starting with the Memorial, Lucas and his long putter strung together three finishes T6 or better before winning for the first time in two years. The run was enough to move him from 129th in the FedEx Cup standings to 49th, and a spot in the PGA Tour's three-tournament playoff. 

“It's just, it's been a revelation for me," Glover said. "Honestly, my brain, my head. It's fun, and it's been a huge positive obviously.”

Putting has been an issue for Glover for more than a decade. He said in his press conference after winning at Wyndham that the yips that had taken over his putting stroke when he four-putted the fifth green at Colonial Country Club "in 2013 or 2014," but he did not play Colonial in 2013 or 2014. So it had to be in 2012, and it came on “like random, out of nowhere.”

And it hit him hard. In his final 9 events of 2012, Glover missed 6 cuts, and withdrew from the Wyndham Championship with a wrist injury. And it lasted for two more years. 

By the end of 2014, Glover had played 58 PGA Tour events since being struck by the yips, and had missed 38 cuts. He had a grand total of 2 top-5s in that span, and just 2 more top-25 finishes. By January of 2015, he had dropped to 634th in the world.  

He was interviewed after the third round of the Masters in 2013, where he said he "putted like I didn't have hands. Same story. Nothing new." When asked to elaborate on his round he said he "hit it better than my score and probably putted like I shot 80."

Glover expressed his frustrations in 2013 as follows:

"The upside is I'm hitting it good.  The downside is I keep putting bad and it makes it suck even more. You'd almost rather hit it bad, putt bad, shoot 78 and not have to worry about it. But it's a pretty obvious weakness and a pretty obvious problem.

"But you know, just now that I'm hitting it better and like I'm supposed to, it makes it more glaring of an issue. You know, I missed a bunch of 10‑footers and a bunch of two‑footers because I'm hitting it closer and getting it up around the greens on the par‑5s and hitting good chips and I can't get it in the hole.

"Hitting it good makes it more obvious."

Next question: "How long has it been like this for you?"

"Putting poorly? Year and a half."

Next question: Do you work with anybody specifically on it?

"I do. Dave Stockton, Jr., and some with Senior, and I'm the best practice green putter you've ever seen," Glover said. "I know what I'm doing is right, I just can't translate it to the golf course. And that's a 'me' thing, it's not a them thing or their method. Their method is great and I love it. That's how I grew up putting, and I know it's right, I just can't translate it, and I can't figure out why. But I'll be irritated for half an hour and then be positive and try to figure it out."

This was successful pro who had the 2009 U.S. Open at a rain-soaked Bethpage Black that measured 7,460 yards, saw each day interrupted by rain, and the Open needing Monday to complete the final round.

David Duval described the 2009 U.S. Open week as "long. Very long week. Very tiring week.

"Start, stop, up at 5:00 every day, walking through wet, heavy, long golf course. So tiring mentally and physically."

Even Tiger Woods, who finished T6 at even-par, admitted the conditions were challenging: "You know, with the golf course playing as long as it is, a lot of guys were hitting long irons and hybrids and utilities and a whole bunch of different things into the greens."

Glover finished the championship 4-under-par, 2 shots better Duval, Phil Mickelson and Ricky Barnes.  

"He played some incredible golf," Mickelson said of Glover. "... All I know is he shot 4-under par on a very difficult golf course and closed it out in the end."

Glover earned his way into the field through a Sectional Qualifier in Columbus, OH, that saw him find a groove along the way.  

"I found something in my golf swing at the qualifier, worked on it at home and started hitting the ball well with my driver," Lucas said in his press conference after the victory. "I had a feeling if I could get it in the fairway and make some putts, I'd do all right."

Imagine having the golf game that can win a major championship, multiple times on the PGA Tour, and having the perseverence and optimism to continue to search for the missing piece that could elevate his play to that level again. Lucas Glover has done what every golfer dreams of doing, elevating his game to the best it can be.