Duval Looking to Start Winning Again

By Associated PressAugust 10, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 PGA ChampionshipKOHLER, Wis. -- Five years ago at the PGA Championship, they were No. 1 and No. 2 in the world.
 
It was the last time Tiger Woods was chasing anyone in the world rankings.
 
On Tuesday, he was guiding David Duval around the front nine at Whistling Straits during an early morning practice round at the PGA Championship. Woods had his left hand around Duval's shoulder, and with his right hand pointed the grip of his driver in the direction of the fourth fairway, located somewhere beyond a million bunkers.
 
Duval took a big cut and no one flinched. The ball soared into the gray skies down the right side of the 493-yard hole, and the wind gently brought it back to the short grass.
 
'Fairway,' Woods said as if he was giving a progress report.
 
It was the first time they have played together since the first two rounds of the Nissan Open last year at Riviera, back when Duval's demise was only a rumor.
 
'As far as the way he's playing, I think he's on the right track,' Woods said. 'He's hitting some golf shots now that are solid, they are controlled. And the cool thing about him, you could see the excitement level is back.
 
'He will get back,' Woods said. 'There's no doubt about it.'
 
There have been plenty of reasons to doubt Duval would return to the level that brought him 13 victories, including The Players Championship in 1999 that took him to No. 1 in the world, and a British Open title in 2001 that cemented his status as one of the best in the game.
 
Not many could have imagined that silver claret jug would be the last of his PGA Tour victories.
 
Five years after Duval was No. 1 in the world going into the '99 PGA, he has plunged to No. 512.
 
He is newly married, happier than ever and realizes there is much more to life than chasing around a little white golf ball, all the more reason to believe his best days on the golf course are behind him.
 
And then there was Shinnecock Hills.
 
Duval ended his seven-month break from the PGA Tour at the toughest test in golf, but he looked like a ceremonial golfer at the U.S. Open. He shot rounds of 83-82 and smiled his way around the course, the kind of golf expected out of 75-year-old Arnold Palmer, not a 32-year-old entering the prime of his career.
 
'I enjoyed being out there,' he said at Shinnecock. 'All in all, I would call it an enormous victory.'
 
But there was something different about Duval on Tuesday, his first trip around Whistling Straits. His tee shots were long and relatively straight. The applause he heard was not from fans just happy to see him, but fans impressed by shots that stopped so close to the pin.
 
'I feel great,' Duval said after his round. 'I'm going to play well.'
 
Just as importantly, Duval is going to play more often.
 
He plans to play in the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston on Labor Day weekend, and probably the Canadian Open at Glen Abbey the following week. Duval wants to play three more times the rest of the season, then resume a full schedule next year and see where it leads him.
 
'As I stand right now, I think I can win tournaments,' Duval said.
 
The practice round with Woods and Mark O'Meara was no accident. Duval could not recall the last time he practiced with Woods, joking that 'I haven't played any practice rounds.'
 
He and Woods have been good friends since their rivalry reached a peak five years ago. He stays at O'Meara's house whenever he plays at Disney.
 
But the common friend in their group Tuesday was Hank Haney, the swing coach for O'Meara who also has been working with Woods the last several months.
 
Duval is his latest client.
 
At O'Meara's recommendation, Duval first met with Haney two weeks ago in Texas. The timing is intriguing, especially since Haney has a cover story in latest issue of Golf Digest magazine called, 'How I Cured My Driver Yips.'
 
'I believe driver yips - not fatigue, stress or some mechanical swing problem - have sabotaged the careers of David Duval, Seve Ballesteros and Ian Baker-Finch,' Haney writes.
 
Now, Haney is trying to fix one of them.
 
Duval already has changed to a weaker grip, and is starting to see the results. The biggest problem he has is learning how far he can expect each club to go, because an effort to gain more control has cost him some of the pop in his irons.
 
Duval shot a 66 at Vaquero, Haney's home course outside Dallas, a few weeks ago with not many trips into the high grass. Haney believes Duval can recover enough of his game to be a regular winner again, and not the second coming of another British Open champion - Baker-Finch.
 
'I'm just seeing if I can get it headed in the right direction,' Haney said. 'It's like there are two doors in your brain, and you're opening the wrong door. But it's in there.'
 
Where it leads when the right door is opened is anyone's guess, but Duval is eager to find out.
 
That's the first step.
 
Related Links:
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    Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

    By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

    “I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

    Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

    “If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”


    Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)


    Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

    Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

    “He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

    As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

    "I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

    Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”

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    McIlroy: Ryder Cup won't be as easy as USA thinks

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:18 pm

    The Americans have won their past two international team competitions by a combined score of 38-22, but Rory McIlroy isn’t expecting another pushover at the Ryder Cup in September.

    McIlroy admitted that the U.S. team will be strong, and that its core of young players (including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler) will be a force for the next decade. But he told reporters Tuesday at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship that course setup will play a significant role.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said, referring to the Americans’ 17-11 victory in 2016. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    At every Ryder Cup, the home team has the final say on course setup. Justin Rose was the most outspoken about the setup at Hazeltine, saying afterward that it was “incredibly weak” and had a “pro-am feel.” 

    And so this year’s French Open figures to be a popular stop for European Tour players – it’s being held once again at Le Golf National, site of the matches in September. Tommy Fleetwood won last year’s event at 12 under.

    “I’m confident,” McIlroy said. “Everything being all well and good, I’ll be on that team and I feel like we’ll have a really good chance.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that. The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.” 

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    Floodlights may be used at Dubai Desert Classic

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 12:44 pm

    No round at next week’s Dubai Desert Classic will be suspended because of darkness.

    Tournament officials have installed state-of-the-art floodlighting around the ninth and 18th greens to ensure that all 132 players can finish their round.

    With the event being moved up a week in the schedule, the European Tour was initially concerned about the amount of daylight and trimmed the field to 126 players. Playing under the lights fixed that dilemma.

    “This is a wonderful idea and fits perfectly with our desire to bring innovation to our sport,” European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said. “No professional golfer ever wants to come back the following morning to complete a round due to lack of daylight, and this intervention, should it be required, will rule out that necessity.”

    Next week’s headliners include Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson. 

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    Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

    Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

    Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

    Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

    McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.