Duval On a Long Strange Trip

By Brian HewittFebruary 1, 2005, 5:00 pm
I'm not sure how or why, but David Duval has become something of a lightning
rod in golf for people who have the need to assign blame -or at least
meaning - to everything that happens in the game.
I mean, so far in 2005 on the PGA Tour, Stuart Appleby has defended successfully in Maui, making him the king of Kapalua for now. Vijay Singh has gotten his first win of the year under his belt at the Sony Open, which will, for now, keep people from wondering what might be wrong with the world's No. 1 player when and if he doesn't play well every single week.
Speaking of which, one week after Sony, Tiger Woods won his first full-field stroke play event since the Cialis Western Open in July of 2003. Those same wonderers were brought to bay on the subject of the notion that Woods had completely lost his swing, if not his game. Now Woods is chasing Singh for the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking. And, in some cosmic sense, there is a feeling that all is right again in the golf universe.
Certainly everything is right in the universe inhabited by Justin Leonard. Sunday at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, Leonard cruised to his first Tour win since 2003.
Last year, Leonard finished outside the top-30 on the money list after nine straight seasons in that rarefied air. Plus, he shot 75 on the final day of the PGA Championship at Whistling Straights and lost to Singh in a playoff. It left Leonard with an 0-2 record in major championship overtimes.
Leonard appears to be back and the former self-confessed 'neat freak' looks to have his house in order. His coach, the estimable Butch Harmon, was predicting a big year for Leonard even before last week. Nike Golf has signed Leonard to a deal that looks like a win-win for both sides. And Leonard's wife, Amanda, is pregnant with the young couple's second child.
Leonard is 32. Duval is 33. They are comtemporaries and their golf curves are trending in opposite directions.
The single most astonishing and disturbing statistic of 2005 is the fact that Duval was 53 shots behind leader Joe Ogilvie after 54 holes at the Hope. This including a third-round 85 in which Duval made three triple bogeys in a row. This is the same David Duval who fired a 59 in the final round to win the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic six short years ago.
Or is it the same David Duval?
All kinds of inquiring minds want to know. The critics are insisting Duval should keep his game in the garage until he can get his competitive engine up and running again. Duval's friends say Duval will recover from this and he will do it in his own sweet time.
When he speaks publicly, which isn't all that often these days, Duval makes it clear that he loves the game a lot more than he loves the life of the Tour pro. Certain of his brethren resent that kind of candor. Others admire it.
The fact remains that we shouldn't be surprised if Duval's best days in golf are behind him. Nor should we be surprised if he brings it all the way back and wins another major championship in the next five years.
Most of all, don't be surprised if the best days that lay ahead for David Duval, a fiercely independent thinker, don't have anything at all to do with golf.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.