For a while, it looked like there was going to be a storybook finish of some kind at the U.S. Open today. Both Phil Mickelson and David Duval had stories that, for different reasons, got the raucous crowd at Bethpage Black behind them, and each had at least a share of the lead late into the final round.
Of course, they were helped by the fact that the final group of Ricky Barnes and Lucas Glover were imploding on the front nine, combining to go eight-over par over the first nine holes to bring a whole slew of golfers back into the tournament. But while Ricky Barnes kept crashing and burning like Ricky Bobby on the back nine (finishing with a 76 and his stupid painter’s hat), Glover was able to pull himself together and shoot even par on the back nine to win his first major championship by two shots.
While his final round 73 was hardly the stuff of legend, it was good enough to win as winds firmed up the soggy Bethpage Black course and made scoring difficult. Plus, that’s why it’s an advantage to have played so well through 54 holes - you have wiggle room to make some mistakes in the final round.
The two big names in the tournament didn’t give themselves any wiggle room coming into the final round, which eventually was their undoing. Mickelson looked like he was going to pull off a story so heartwarming that even Lifetime would reject it as “too unrealistic” in winning the U.S. Open a month after his wife Amy was diagnosed with breast cancer. His eagle on 13 brought him into a tie for the lead, but he bogeyed two of the final four holes to finish tied for second two back of Glover.
For Tiger Woods, it was a matter of what might have been. His final-round 69 was very good, but could have easily been the 65 he needed to complete a miracle comeback from nine shots back to start the round. As for Duval, the former world No. 1 turned running joke managed to get into a tie for the lead after making three straight birdies on Nos. 14 through 16. A bogey on No. 17 ended hopes of an incredible victory, but finishing in a tie for second is nothing to sneeze at when you’re ranked No. 881 in the world.