Winning Ways: Glover & Nilsson
Golf365 reveals the secrets of success for last week’s winners Lucas Glover and Christian Nilsson.
LUCAS GLOVER – US OPEN CHAMPION
In The Bag
Driver – Nike SQ Sumo2 Tour
Fairway wood – Nike SQ II
Irons – Nike CCI Forged
Wedges – Nike SV Tour
Putter – Nike prototype
Ball – Nike ONE Tour D
The stats and trends were heavily in favour of Glover, Ricky Barnes and Mike Weir at the halfway stage because every one of the last 13 winners of the US Open had been within two shots of the lead after two rounds and only those three players were in such a position.
For the final 36 holes all three players lost shots to par, sometimes leaking them at a terrifying rate, but the gap they had earned was to prove vital.
Not only did it give them the leeway to go backwards, but it put huge pressure on those chasing who could mount mini-challenges but found it impossible to overhaul all three of the leaders.
The players say that the US Open tests every aspect of their game and Lucas Glover came up trumps.
Would he be long enough for the brutal Bethpage Black test? He ranked eighth for Driving Distance.
Would he find the putting surface despite heavy rough and long carries? He ranked fourth for Greens in Regulation.
Would he survive thick and tangly rough around the greens when he did miss the short grass? He ranked eighth for Scrambling.
And would he remain calm and composed when asked to putt? He was tenth for Putting Average and three-putted just once all week.
Quail Hollow pointer
In recent years the players have often said the Quail Hollow Championship offers a “major-style test”.
Perhaps we need to start taking closer notice of the top finishers there because they consistently go on to perform with credit in the US Open.
A few recent examples of players making the top five in both events: David Toms (2003), Jeff Maggert (2004), Sergio Garcia (2005), Jim Furyk (2006), Tiger Woods (2007) and Lucas Glover this year.
CHRISTIAN NILSSON – ST OMER OPEN CHAMPION
The long and the short of it
Nilsson was no mug last week when it came to hitting the greens in regulation (he ranked 12th) but he really shone at either end of each hole.
From the tee he was long, ranking seventh for Driving Distance.
And around the greens he was magnificent – ranked first for both Scrambling and Sand Saves plus third for Putts per Round and fourth for Putting Average.
Those strong stats gave him a six shot cushion over runner-up Jose Filipe Lima and a ten shot advantage over those tied for third.
Rare bit of form shown in Wales
Many will wonder how the Swede won when in such appalling form (he hadn’t broken the top thirty since the middle of last October).
But there were clues for anyone willing to look hard enough.
First of all he finished second here last year (when his stats were arguably better than this year!) but more intriguing was his last outing – at the Celtic Manor Wales Open – when he finished 53rd but did rank third for Putting Average.
Front nine favourite
In general the field struggled on the front nine all week – with only three of the first nine holes averaging less than par.
But Nilsson had no such problems and played those 36 holes in 12-under par.
The odd thing was that he did this despite not once breaking par on the par-five seventh hole – one of those three easiest holes!
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