Is Duvals Luck Finally Changing
Maybe his luck is changing.
The former British Open champion hasnt played in a tournament since then. But two weeks ago in British Columbia, Duval bagged a 45-pound king salmon with an eight-weight fly rod while filming an outdoors show for ESPN that will air in January. It was two pounds shy of the listed world record.
Maybe Duvals luck is changing.
Maybe by January his back will be healthy again and he will begin the long, slow climb back to the top of mens professional golf. In 1999 he rose to the top of the world rankings. Today he sits at No. 173.
Duvals record in 2003 includes 15 missed cuts and 2 withdrawals in 19 events. He has battled vertigo, a dodgy neck and an inquiring public.
These days he is taking it easy. He is practicing, when the back allows. He is spending time in Sun Valley, Idaho, his home away from his Florida home. And he is catching big fish.
He may play in Las Vegas next week. He may not. He may play in Asia before the end of the year. He may not.
This is all part of getting his batteries recharged, said a source close to Duval Tuesday.
Its that time of year when players who havent gotten what they wanted out of 2003 already are planning for 2004.
Casey Martin has played 16 events on the Nationwide Tour in 2003 and missed eight cuts. The $15,945 he has won ranks him 157th on the money list. As recently as 1998 he was a winner on the Nationwide Tour.
Last week he tied for 24th at Rancho Cucamonga. It was his best finish of the year. Maybe his luck is changing. Martins immediate goal is the second stage of Q-School in Seaside, Calif., Nov. 19-22.
If he doesnt advance, you cant help but wonder how long Martin, who suffers from a degenerative circulatory disorder in his leg called Klippel-Trenauney-Webber Syndrome, will pursue his golf dreams.
I dont think anybody can answer that question with Q-School directly in front of them, said Martins agent, Chris Murray. These guys thrive on hope.
Murray says Martin is doing well financially despite his recent poor earnings from golf. Hes bought two big things, Murray said. A car and a townhouse. He gives a lot of his money to his church.
Martin is 31 years old, same as David Duval.
Australian James McLean is only 25. But he, too, is pointing to the second stage of Q-School and looking ahead to 2004.
McLean, the former NCAA individual champion from the University of Minnesota and one of the PGA Tours longest hitters, is currently chilling in the Cities watching the Twins play the Yankees and nursing a wrist that is swathed in a soft cast. Calcium build-up in the wrist has forced McLean off the tour.
Doctors have managed to avoid surgery as a last resort for McLean. But they say his condition is unique. They may have to operate eventually.
Meanwhile, the best players in the world this year have convened in nearby Atlanta for the WGC-American Express Championship. There is this matter of Player of the Year yet to be determined. It probably wont be settled until the final round of the Tour Championship, Nov. 9 in Houston.
At the moment, they have bigger fish to fry.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59
Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.
While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.
He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.
"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."
Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.
"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."
Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot
When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.
Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.
"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"
The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.
Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.
"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."
DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.
Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.
"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."
Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.
Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.
"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."
Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.
"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."
LPGA lists April date for new LA event
The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.
When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.
The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.
The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.