Duval back at Augusta after 06 flameout

By Associated PressApril 7, 2010, 3:35 am

AUGUSTA, Ga. – So much has changed for David Duval since the last time he contended at the Masters, nearly a decade ago.

From the expanded waistline to the errant shots to the wandering concentration, he barely resembles the guy who once ruled as golf’s No. 1 player.

Duval ambled away from the 13th tee Tuesday, strolled over the Nelson Bridge and found a nice, comfortable spot to plop down in the middle of the fairway.

He sat there for a couple of minutes, next to his ball, staring across Rae’s Creek toward the woods on the other side, soaking up the brilliant colors of the azaleas and dogwoods.

The perfect place to reflect, to think back on all he once was at Augusta National and still hopes to be?

Hardly. Duval isn’t much for reminiscing.

“It was brutal out there. They were playing soooo slow,” he grumbled after a practice round that dragged on for nearly five hours. “I was just trying to keep from going to sleep.”

This is the first time Duval has qualified for the Masters since 2006, when he shot a 10 on the second hole and missed the cut for the fourth year in a row. He’s here thanks to a runner-up finish at last year’s U.S. Open.

Duval still walks the course with an aura reserved for the greats, not someone who last won a tournament at the 2001 British Open, not someone who’s looks perpetually frumpy with his shirttail hanging out, not someone who comes here sandwiched between Anthony Wall and Danny Willett at No. 110 in the world rankings.

Maybe it’s the aloof demeanor, obscured by those wraparound glasses. Maybe it’s the standoffish body language, the sense that he’s not really paying attention to the folks shouting, “Go get ‘em, David” and other encouraging words.

There was always a mystery about Duval, and the fact that a once-brilliant game got away from him in the blink of an eye only adds to the intrigue. At nearly every hole, some patron posing as a fairway psychologist offered up a possible explanation for his baffling decline, everything from depression to vertigo.

For the record, Duval feels just fine – about his fame, too.

“I’m comfortable, entirely comfortable, with what I’m doing right now,” he said. “I feel like I’m swinging the golf club how I want to. I feel like I’m striking the golf ball how I want to. To me, it’s a matter of performing and doing that more regularly than I may be at the moment.”

If nothing else, Duval seems to have rekindled a sense of feistiness with the media that melted away as his scores went up and up. He now feels as though he’s put up enough good results—the 2009 U.S. Open and this year’s AT&T at Pebble Beach – to stop all those annoying questions about his slump.

Never mind that he’s missed the cut in four of his seven PGA Tour events this year.

“Some of this, I don’t understand,” he said. “I’m trying to talk about and answer questions I’ve been answering for a couple of years now, and I don’t know why I need to answer them any more than I have. I have talked about it.”

Duval might have hit rock bottom at that 2006 Masters. He opened with an 84, then started the second round with a double bogey at No. 1 and a quintuple-bogey 10 at the second, when he drove into a hazard on the left and took two more penalty strokes before he finally escaped.

But that day, as bad as it was, also signified that Duval’s shotmaking skills had not totally abandoned him. He bounced back to make five birdies over the final 12 holes, including a 32 on the back nine. Not nearly good enough to make the cut, of course, but a start.

Duval never doubted that he’d make it back to the Masters someday. Whether he can ever be the sort of player he once was at Augusta National remains to be seen.

Over a four-year stretch beginning in 1998, Duval had a pair of runner-up finishes, plus a third and a sixth. He still believes those are four green jackets that got away.

“I’d like to see him at his best again,” said Jim Furyk, who joined Duval for the practice round along with Justin Leonard. “I played a lot of golf with him back when he was the best player in the world, and he was really, really good. I guess the rest of that is: Does he really want to get back to that level again? It’s difficult to do. But I really liked what I saw today in his game.”

Duval is convinced that he’s worked out the flaws in his swing, which were caused by injuries and waning confidence. But he finds it difficult to keep it together from round to round, even shot to shot.

On Tuesday, for instance, he made a nifty little wedge shot right up next to the flag at No. 15. Then he came back with a wild swing off the tee at the par-3 16th, his left arm flying off the club as he hit a screaming line drive that cleared the water but skidded right through the green.

The patrons groaned.

“I probably need to think a little bit better on the golf course, manage my game a little bit better,” Duval said. “Get rid of some of the silly mistakes that tend to add up. Really, that’s probably it.”

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.