By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
PALM HARBOR, Fla. -- It was exactly one year ago that I saw Lucas Glover at Innisbrook.
I was walking down the ninth fairway and noticed Lucas headed to the eighth tee on the Wednesday before the Tampa Bay Championship of 2012.
He had hurt his knee while on a paddleboard during the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and had spent the last three months getting healthy.
Nobody would have guessed the next five months would be so testing and yet so rewarding for the U.S. Open champion.
Glover’s knee was bad and so was his golf. He missed the cut that week and made just a half-dozen checks the entire season. Glover’s highest finish was a T46th at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance.
He finally stopped playing, withdrawing from the Wyndham Championship. The knee injury never healed, doctors discovered a torn meniscus and Glover had season-ending surgery.
You might think 2012 was a disaster for Glover and yet he has much different memories.
Glover got engaged and married his wife Krista. There is a baby girl on the way.
He changed equipment, going from Nike to TaylorMade. He lost weight and even shaved his beard.
The happiness in his personal life is now reflected in his golf.
Glover is 66th in FedExCup standings. He’s won more than $279,000 in just five starts, including a T4 at The Honda Classic.
He was 183rd in scoring average last year at 72.14. This season he is 44th at 70.6.
Glover is once again hitting tight little draws at the flagstick.
I don’t know if his personal happiness led to the good golf. I am positive his knee injury accounted for most of his struggles in 2012. However, I also believe happy people are better golfers.
A positive attitude sometimes counts for as much, if not more, than those tight draws off the tee.
Golf always seems to mimic life. Just when we think the path is clear, somebody pulls the carpet from under our feet.
Glover seemed so happy when I chatted with him a year ago. Happy his knee was healed and he was able to play golf, never suspecting how wretched his professional life would become and the wonderful turn his personal life was about to take.
The game knocked him down in 2012 but it also put him on the path to better times. Those five months of bad golf allowed him the time to marry Krista and start a family.
I’m sure in Lucas' mind, that’s a great trade.
Changes: The greens have been softened just a bit following last year’s re-do. Players were not happy with some of the undulations on the final two holes, so some slope has been taken out of the green complexes. I thought Luke Donald hit one of the great approaches of the year into the 18th hole during last year’s playoff. To get his ball to stop on that little tabletop area by the hole was remarkable. That area is now a little less severe, which means more makeable putts.
Fishing: This is one of the great weeks of the year for fishing. The Innisbrook Resort has dozens of tiny ponds that hold big fish. I was with J.P. Hayes a few years ago and we watched a caddie land a lunker. J.P. made a fist and was able to put his whole hand into the mouth of that bass without touching anything. The fish had to weigh 10 pounds.
Snake Pit: Holes 16, 17 and 18 comprise one of the tougher finishes on the PGA TOUR. It begins with the 460-yard 16th, a dogleg to the right with water down that right hand side and pine trees on the left. If you coax a 3-wood into the fairway you are left with a long approach into a heavily bunkered green. If you let a driver drift left or right, you are either punching out from the trees or taking a drop. Just in case players need a reminder how dangerous the hole is, there is a large statue of a Copperhead snake next to the 16th tee with its fangs bared. Forget the hole, the statue alone gives me the willies.
Length: Innisbrook’s Copperhead course measures 7,340 yards but keep in mind it’s a par 71 with four par 5s and five par 3s. That means a lot of length comes from those par 3s and they can all be stretched to a nasty distance. The eighth comes in at a healthy 235 yards, the 13th at 200 with water fronting the green, the 12th measures 215 yards and the 17th 215. Only the fourth hole is less than 200 yards and that is 195.
Winner, winner: Sergio Garcia seems just about ready to win. He has only played in three tournaments this year and has finished T13, T17 and T3 -- and all that without putting exceptionally well. He's ranked 82nd in strokes gained-putting. If he improves just a little on the greens, Garcia will win.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.