CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Lucas Glover already has been through a lot this year, even if the calendar shows the first week in May.
He injured his left knee when he slipped off a paddle board in the Pacific Ocean the weekend before the season opener in Kapalua, and it wound up keeping him out of golf until the middle of March. Then, he suffered a rib injury at the Masters, but played through it the next week at Hilton Head, the only PGA Tour event in his native South Carolina.
He is the defending champion at the Wells Fargo Championship. It will be only his sixth tournament this year.
"I think any time you come somewhere you've had success, it gives you that little bit of confidence — even if it's been a strange year for you," he said.
The paddle board incident was a fluke fall, and Glover didn't grasp how serious it was. He went to the practice range the next week in Honolulu thinking he might be able to play and walk on a flat golf course. He didn't realize he would be out two months.
More peculiar was the rib injury. He said he pulled an intercostal muscle on his left side.
"If it had been any other week but Augusta, I don't think I would have played," he said. "But it's pretty hard to withdraw from that one, so I played through it, and just got it fixed and feel pretty good."
Glover said he feels as good as he has since he paddled out to the ocean the weekend before Kapalua. He has made three cuts, though his best finish was last week in New Orleans when he tied for 66th. Even so, he expects to make a strong title defense at Quail Hollow.
"You guys wrote about Freddie (Couples) at Augusta, you expect him to drive through those gates and play well and he loves it there," Glover said. "And that's how I am here. I was here last Sunday and played with some friends, and it was probably the best round I've played all year. And I know it was practice, and I know it doesn't matter and nobody cares, but just being here, there's something about it for me."
JACK AND THE TREE: One of the famous stories from Pebble Beach is a tree that got in the way of Arnold Palmer trying to win in 1967. One shot behind in the final round, his approach to the par-5 14th hit the tree and went out-of-bounds. Palmer reloaded and the same thing happened. He wound up making a 9.
The next day, a fierce storm uprooted the tree.
Turns out Jack Nicklaus has his own tree story.
Nicklaus was a 21-year-old amateur in the 1961 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills, and he was one shot behind playing the par-5 12th as he made a run at Gene Littler. That's when he ran into an elm tree that wasn't even in the way. Nicklaus said he nailed a 3-wood and it was headed for the green when a gust of wind blew the elm toward the fairway, in the path of the ball, and knocked it down.
"I felt like it was going to be on the green," he said. "It dropped it straight down. I made a 6 instead of a 4. And then I three-putted the 17th."
He tied for fourth, then won his first U.S. Open a year later at Oakmont.
As for that tree?
"That tree is gone," Nicklaus said.
FOSTER OUT: Lee Westwood is in good form coming into the next two majors. Now he needs a caddie.
Westwood arrived at Quail Hollow on Tuesday to learn that his caddie, Billy Foster, blew out his right knee while reaching to kick a soccer ball. The worst part about is that Foster had no intention of taking part in a match between a group of European caddies and a local club in Charlotte.
"They asked me if I wanted to play and my answer was I was too old for that. It was too dangerous," Foster said from the caddie tent, crutches at his side. "I was just there to watch. Before the match, they were kicking the ball around, like I do at home with my boys. I stretched, and as soon as I planted, my knee collapsed. I heard it rip and crack, and I knew I was in trouble."