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Lucas Glover comes into the Open Championship riding a wave of confidence and
Lucas Glover comes into the Open Championship riding a wave of confidence and "hitting the ball great." (Photo: Getty Images)

Big gamble pays off big-time for alternate Glover

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Lucas Glover rolled the dice and hopped on a plane for Scotland, not knowing if he would get into the Open Championship as an alternate. It proved a good move, because by the time Glover's plane landed, his gamble had paid off.

By Helen Ross, Chief of Correspondents

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland -- Lucas Glover didn't have much hope, but he decided to get on the plane anyway.

Glover, who had just tied for 11th at the John Deere Classic, was the first alternate for this week's Open Championship. So he left Silvis, Ill., on Sunday night and headed for Scotland -- just in case.

By the time he got to Carnoustie the next day, though, Glover was in the field -- thanks to the misfortunes of Shingo Katayama, who withdrew with a back and right knee injury.

"You never have a good feeling about something like that," Glover admitted. "I told Coop (his caddy, Don Cooper) I've got a bad feeling and he said, 'No, we'll be in when we hit the ground,' and he was right. I'm glad he was right.

"But I didn't earn my way here, so I'm kind of fortunate to be here, I guess."

Not to mention, Glover is lucky just to have clean clothes and clubs. Both lagged behind in London after the trans-Atlantic flight, as did the necessities for a handful of other pros. He got his suitcases on Monday and the clubs finally arrived on Tuesday.

"I wasn't going to play (Monday) anyway so it really didn't cost me anything," Glover said in his smooth Southern drawl. "I was just worried about it, I guess."

Glover was luckier than some, though. Joe Durant was walking around Tuesday afternoon in a shirt that he had bought in the pro shop at Carnoustie -- and still awaiting his clubs.

Glover had wanted dearly to play in the 136th Open Championship so this week is something of a bonus. He had tried the U.S. qualifier at Oakland Hills, but was flying blind and playing poorly so he withdrew after nine holes.

There were three Open Championship spots available at the AT&T National. Glover had a good chance to earn the one that went to the highest finisher not otherwise qualified for Carnoustie, but floundered on the back nine Sunday.

The John Deere Classic offered the final spot, also to the highest finisher in that event who was not already in the field at the Open Championship. That spot went to Jonathan Byrd, Glover's former Clemson teammate, when he won his third PGA TOUR event.

Glover left the TPC Deere Run with confidence, though, after rounds of 65-67 on the weekend. He's been playing extremely well of late -- tying for 10th, 12th and 11th in his last three starts. He ranks 13th in total driving, 15th in birdies and 23rd all around.

"I didn't putt well the last two Sundays," Glover said. "So I've got to correct that because you have to putt well around here since you're going to have a lot of 6-10 footers for par, and hopefully some for birdies.

"We'll address that this afternoon and tomorrow morning and see where we stand. I'm hitting the ball great. I haven't hit it this good all year, so I'm pleased with that."

When he was growing up in Greenville, S.C., Glover loved to watch the Open Championship. He was still in college the last time the grand dame of the majors was played in this sleepy Scottish town, and Glover remembers when it turned "Carnasty."

"This was my favorite tournament to watch because you wake up in the morning and turn on TV and lay in bed and watch it," he said. "I watched it (in 1999), and it was brutal. I mean, brutal. But it's fair (this year). It's very fair.

"They were showing me where some of the rough cuts were. You can still see the outlines like on 18 and 12. You go, holy cow, you can't hit that fairway with a 7-iron, much less a driver. So it's in great shape and very fair."

And Thursday, he'll see where his good fortune leads him.

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