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A different Tiger

United States Presidents Cup golf team, from left, captain Jack Nicklaus, Woody Austin, Stewart Cink, Jim Furyk, Lucas Glover, Charles Howell III, Zach Johnson, Hunter Mahan, Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, David Toms, Scott Verplank, Tiger Woods and assistant captain Jeff Sluman pose for a photograph in Montreal.
United States Presidents Cup golf team, from left, captain Jack Nicklaus, Woody Austin, Stewart Cink, Jim Furyk, Lucas Glover, Charles Howell III, Zach Johnson, Hunter Mahan, Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, David Toms, Scott Verplank, Tiger Woods and assistant captain Jeff Sluman pose for a photograph in Montreal.

MONTREAL -- Now that Lucas Glover is immersed in the Presidents Cup -- wearing the team colors, chatting with Tiger Woods over dinner and finding out where he stands on the ping-pong totem pole in the United States team room -- he has not been disappointed.

A year ago, Glover was devastated when he failed to qualify for the U.S. Ryder Cup team because he put so much pressure on himself that his game went on sabbatical at the wrong time, costing him a spot on the squad and leading to some serious self-evaluation in the offseason.

That Glover will be paired with Scott Verplank against Stuart Appleby and Retief Goosen in the first round of foursomes matches today at Royal Montreal Golf Club represents a small victory even before the first official point is accumulated.

Glover, the former Clemson All-American, is one of three American rookies this week -- Hunter Mahan and Woody Austin are the others -- and he's around because he was playing well enough when it came time for captain Jack Nicklaus to make his two at-large choices that Glover was an easy choice.

It has been mostly fun up until now for Glover, who wasn't entirely sure what he was getting into when he arrived in Montreal. He didn't know Woods nor Phil Mickelson particularly well and wasn't entirely sure how the team dynamic might work, having not been part of anything so red, white and blue since his 2001 Walker Cup days.

"It's been a little more relaxed than I would have thought," Glover said, standing in the late September sunshine Wednesday while a warm breeze blew falling leaves around him.

"I thought it would be more in your face, kick 'em in the face stuff but it's been very relaxed. I guess we'll get the rah-rah stuff (Wednesday) night."

It will have to come from someone other than the 27-year old Glover, who does a good job of keeping his emotions hidden under the cap he keeps pulled down to his eyebrows.

"Rookies don't rah-rah," Glover said. "I might rah-rah if Scotty's on fire out there. I'll just pat him on the back and tell him how good he is."

Verplank gives Glover the benefit of a steadying presence in his first international team competition. They play different styles -- Glover possesses immense power while Verplank is the consummate grinder -- but have similar personalities.

They're comfortable together and, for anyone who might have forgotten how the Woods-Mickelson pairing blew up in the 2004 Ryder Cup, chemistry is critical.

"A big part of it is getting comfortable with your partner and having fun," said Verplank, who is considered an outstanding alternate-shot teammate.

Since arriving in Montreal, Glover has used his time to learn the golf course and, perhaps more importantly, learn his teammates and captain. He spent much of last week at Sea Island (Ga.) polishing his game, chipping and putting mostly, and has since gone about absorbing as much of the experience as possible.

Glover saw Nicklaus "messing around" with Steve Stricker and assistant captain Jeff Sluman in a bunker. He sidled over and listened to an impromptu lesson from Nicklaus.

When the two teams had dinner with the Canadian prime minister, Glover and his wife grabbed some time with Woods, cultivating their growing relationship.

And then there's ping-pong in the team room. From what he's seen and experienced, Glover said Mickelson, Austin and Zach Johnson are the best players.

But the week is just beginning. For Glover, it's been a lifetime coming.

"I think it's the highest honor we can have to wear our flag on our shirt or our hat or our bag," he said. "To make (the team) was a dream come true ... I have (today) to prove I belong."

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