David Duval happy to get back to Bethpage

By Associated PressJune 14, 2009, 4:00 pm
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2009 U.S. OpenFARMINGDALE, N.Y. ' David Duval is playing an American major for the first time in nearly three years, excited to have qualified for the U.S. Open because of how much he likes the Black Course at Bethpage State Black.
And this from someone who missed the cut the last time he was here.
Its wonderful, Duval said Sunday after playing his second practice round in as many days. Its a big, hard golf course, and theres nothing wrong with that.
Duval was among a dozen or so players who took advantage of a quiet ' and eventually sunny ' afternoon on the day before most players arrive for practice rounds at the U.S. Open.
The sunshine was a treat, the forecast is for mostly wet conditions when the championship starts Thursday.
Looking at the forecast, it will be a slog, USGA executive director David Fay said.
Duval, who rose to No. 1 in the world a decade ago, has not played the U.S. Open since 2006, when his five-year exemption ran out from his victory in the 2001 British Open. He did not qualify for the U.S. Open, Masters or PGA Championship the past two years as he tries to get his game turned around, and he believes he is making progress, even if it doesnt show on the scorecard.
But he offered a bold prediction ' not for himself, rather Bethpage Black.
There is nothing to complain about, he said.
Duval referred specifically to the 10th hole and 12th hole, two long par 4s that generated so much criticism when the U.S. Open was played at Bethpage in 2002. Some players couldnt reach the 10th fairway, others couldnt keep it in the 12th fairway.
Among the many changes to the course, which is 7,426 yards at par 70, is the fairway was brought closer to the tee on 10th hole, requiring a carry of no more than 230 yards. The fairway is slightly wider on the 12th, so players who carry the cross bunker will have better odds of playing from the short grass.
Even so, what would a U.S. Open be without complaints?
I thought the U.S. Open was supposed to identify the best player, Duval said.
He thought Bethpage Black had a better chance of doing that than most courses. It is still too early to say because the public course on Long Island has hosted only one U.S. Open. Tiger Woods won in 2002 by three shots over Phil Mickelson, while playing in the final pairing with Sergio Garcia. The tournament was not lacking quality players.
Woods is coming off a victory last week at the Memorial and again is a heavy favorite, while the sentimental favorite is Mickelson, who disclosed last month that his wife is battling breast cancer. He decided only two weeks ago that he would play the U.S. Open.
This could easily be ' and you couldnt say this after one U.S. Open ' one of the top five best U.S. Open venues you see, Duval said.
A greater mystery is what to expect from Duval.
He plunged from the A-list of golf stars not long after winning the British Open for his lone major, most of that injuries that led to a loss of confidence, and then starting his family. He is playing the PGA Tour this year on a one-time exemption from career money, and he had to earn his way back to the U.S. Open, posting scores of 66-69 in the sectional qualifier last Monday.
Ive made no bones about this, the two Opens (U.S. and British) are the most important events of the year, Duval said.
He is happy to be back, but fans might not see much more of him the rest of the week.
Duval walked a little slower, his swing looked a little more tired, over the final four holes. He played the 36-hole qualifier on Monday, then played three rounds in Memphis at St. Jude Classic, where he missed the cut, then came straight to New York and played consecutive 18-hole rounds on a course that is a long, tough walk even without having to chase the ball around.
Duval said he would work on his short game Monday, play nine holes on Tuesday, then take his wife and children into the city on Wednesday. After a weekend on the Black, he feels like he knows the course.
It was everything he remembered.
Related Links:
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  • First- and Second-Round Tee Times
  • Sectional Qualifying results
  • Bethpage Black Ballpark
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    McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

    By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

    The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

    McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

    McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

    ''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

    Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

    ''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

    McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

    ''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

    The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

    ''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

    The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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    Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

    By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

    If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

    Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

    If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

    Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

    Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

    I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

    A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

    And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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    Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

    Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

    The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

    Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

    “I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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    Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

    Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

    Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.