Duval looks to showcase Bethpage form at Turnberry

By Associated PressJuly 15, 2009, 4:00 pm
135th Open Championship TURNBERRY, Scotland ' As gray clouds kept spitting out rain, David Duval just went about his work at one end of the putting green. He didnt bother with an umbrella and kept on those trademark sunglasses, even though the sun was nowhere to be found on this gloomy afternoon along the Scottish coast.
 
Hes always projected an air of aloofness, given off a sense that youll never really know what goes on behind the dark shades.
 
It was that way when he was the No. 1 golfer in the world. It was that way when he couldnt hit a ball any straighter than a weekend duffer. Even now, eight years removed from his last win, he might be the most intriguing golfer at the British Open.
 
Last month, Duval suddenly found the game that so mysteriously deserted him just when he seemed poised for an Arnie-vs.-Jack-like rivalry with Tiger Woods.
 
Duval stayed in contention through all four rounds of a waterlogged U.S. Open and really looked as though he might pull off one of the most improbable victories ever, only to come up two strokes shy of Lucas Glover in a three-way tie for runner-up.
 
I had a real good time, Duval said Tuesday. It was just great, the whole arena. I probably expected to be a little nervous and such. But if anything, I was more comfortable than I ever was, even when I was on top of my game. I just felt great. I loved it. I really felt comfortable with what I was doing and where I was.
 
Now, he must show it wasnt the greatest of flukes.
 
After all, Duvals performance at Bethpage Black was his first top 10 since 2002. His check for $559,830 nearly matched what hes made in the last five years combined on the PGA Tour. He remains far down in the world rankings at No. 145. And he still hasnt won since the last of his 13 tour victories, way back at the 2001 British Open.
 
When he finished up on the putting green, Duval browsed through the pro shop at Turnberry. Then he paused for a few minutes in the center of the clubhouse, not far from the portraits of three previous British Open champions: Tom Watson, Greg Norman and Nick Price.
 
Might he join them before the week is out? Duval believes he is certainly capable.
 
Ive lived through what Ive lived through professionally, he said. I feel like Im a different person, a different player than I was a year or two ago, or 10 years ago even. I feel like Im a better golfer than I was at any point in my career. Now its just a matter of going out and doing it. Thats all there is to it.
 
It sounds so easy. Its not, of course.
 
A decade ago, Duval looked as though he would be one of this generations most dominant players, perhaps a notch below Woods ' isnt everyone? ' but certainly capable of playing the role of worthy second fiddle, a right-handed version of Phil Mickelson.
 
Duval challenged time and time again in the majors before he finally broke through for his first big title at Lytham eight years ago. That was supposed to be the win that pushed him over the hump. Instead, his game took an inexplicable tumble before his year with the Claret Jug was up.
 
In 2002, Duval slumped to 80th on the money list and failed to win for the first time in six years. The following year, he plummeted all the way to 211th. The shots that once soared gracefully over the middle of the fairway took aim at the gallery, a baffling barrage of hooks and slices.
 
Some wondered if Duval ' who married, became a father and talked of finding happiness beyond the golf course ' had lost that competitive edge so critical to success. He pointed to back problems as the primary culprit, saying they fouled up his swing much like a pitcher who changes his throwing motion to compensate for an injury.
 
Duval showed the first tangible glimpses of a comeback at this very tournament last year. He put together three solid rounds at Birkdale ' 73, 69 and 71 ' but a third-round 83 knocked him out of contention.
 
I remember I played a lot better than my scores reflected, he said. Even the three days I had the lower scores, I played better than that. But for bad luck in the third round I wouldnt have had any luck. I hit the ball really well and just got absolutely messed with the whole day. Its one of those things that happens.
 
It was also one of only five times in 20 events that Duval actually made the cut last year, and 2009 started much the same way. He headed into Bethpage having played on the weekend a mere four times in 13 tries, his highest finish a tie for 55th at Pebble Beach. But he truly felt his game was coming together.
 
I feel like I was close last year, Duval said. This year I started saying, Im playing well. I dont know exactly when it was, sometime out on the West Coast. But I knew I was playing well, I just wasnt getting anything out of it, not shooting the scores. I didnt feel like I was close anymore. I felt like I was there. It was just a matter of getting everything to add up right.
 
While proud of his performance at Bethpage, he was hardly content.
 
I was very disappointed, Duval said. I intended to win the golf tournament. I felt like I was playing better than anybody else. I had a couple of funny things happen to me through the course of the week and through the last round even. But still I had a chance. I fought and fought and fought and still had a chance. In the end, thats what you look for.
 
Duval certainly had plenty of fellow players rooting for him at Bethpage, perhaps because they all fear the same thing happening to them.
 
Here is a guy who was on top of the world, Kenny Perry said. Hes been there, done it, hes won majors, so he actually knows how to do it. Its nice to see, and I think a lot of guys were pulling for him to win.
 
Now comes Turnberry, and another chance to finish one of the greatest comebacks in golf history.
 
Is Duval ready to put together four rounds that are good enough to win?
 
That remains a mystery, much like the man himself.
 
You tell me, Duval said to a reporter. Youre asking me questions I cant necessarily answer. I really cant.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - The 138th Open Championship
  • Getty Images

    Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

    By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

    One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

    Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

    "I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

    Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

    "I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

    Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

    "Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

    Getty Images

    Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

    Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

    Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

    “I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

    The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

    “I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

    This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

    The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

    Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

    The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

    And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

    The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


    Masters victory


    Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

    Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

    Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


    Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


    Green jacket tour

    Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

    Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

    Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


    Man of the people


    Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

    Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

    Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


    Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


    Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


    Growing family

    Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

    Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


    Departure from TaylorMade


    Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


    Squashed beef with Paddy

    Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

    Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


    Victory at Valderrama


    Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

    Getty Images

    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm