Slamming the Door
Some Guys are closers. They might not be prolific winners, but when they get in position to win, they do. Bill Glasson, nameless and faceless to many, is a closer. If Greg Norman had Glasson's makeup down the homestretch, Norman might have 25 Tour victories instead of 11.
The 33-year-old Glasson got his sixth career win at the Phoenix Open on Sunday by shooting a seven-under-par 64 when everyone else on the leader board was in neutral or reverse. Glasson birdied five of his final six holes in the third round to get within two strokes of the lead, then started the fourth with three straight birdies. He had two more on the front side, giving him 10 in 15 holes, and made the turn in 30 to take the lead.
"Which is pretty cool," said Glasson, sounding like a surfer and, with blond locks flowing, looking like one too. In fact, when Glasson joined the Tour as a bachelor in 1984, he listed surfing as an interest although he had never tried it. "I figured it might attract women," he says.
Despite appearances Glasson grew up tough in Fresno, Calif. A promising athlete, he would have played high school basketball, baseball or football had he not suffered cartilage damage to his left knee when he was 15. He eventually had four knee operations, the last one in '84.
But injuries continued to plague Glasson's career. As a result of the way he walked to compensate for his bad knees, he developed back pain, which became so acute by 1991 that he was considering cashing in a half-million-dollar insurance policy for permanent disability.
The most noteworthy occurrences in Glasson's feast-or-famine career, however, have been his victories and the way he has achieved them. Very simply, almost every time Glasson has had a piece of the lead in the fourth round, he has won. It happened first at the 1985 Kemper Open, in which he drained a 40-foot birdie putt on the final hole to win by one. The fifth time came at the Kemper in 1992, after Glasson's back miseries had been relieved through physical therapy. The only time Glasson did not hold on in the fourth round was last year at the B.C. Open, when he was tied for the lead on the 15th tee but finished third, two strokes back. "It was a strange situation, because it had never happened before," he said on Sunday. "I don't get in the lead very often, but 1 pride myself on being able to take it home and not fold my tent."
He certainly didn't fold at Phoenix, where he increased his lead from one stroke to three with a birdie on the par-5 15th hole and then slammed the door by hitting what he called a junior seven-iron on the par-3 16th to within four feet and making the putt.
Glasson has the perfect makeup to perform under pressure: He is highly competitive but barely registers a pulse. The latter is evident when he flies his wife and two small children from Tour stop to Tour stop in his twin-engine Cessna. A pilot since 1986, Glasson has had a few close calls. The latest came two years ago over the Appalachian Mountains when his plane lost an engine because of a severe oil leak." He didn't say a word until I noticed that the propeller had stopped," says his wife, Courtney. "He brought it down into Morgantown nice and easy. Nothing really bothers Bill."
Who Are Those Guys?