Duval looks to keep momentum in Mexico

By Doug FergusonFebruary 15, 2010, 11:44 pm
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Minus golf’s two biggest stars, the best are headed to the high desert of Arizona. Equally intriguing is what happens south of the border with David Duval, a player who has not been among the best for more than a decade.

The next few weeks could determine whether that can change.

Moments after his runner-up finish at Pebble Beach, Duval climbed into a van with his wife and four of their children as they left one beach resort for another. Next up is the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico, a chance to build on a performance only he saw coming.

David Duval
David Duval is seeking his first PGA Tour win in nine years. (Getty Images)
It had been more than eight years since Duval shot in the 60s every round of a PGA Tour event. And while this is the not the first time he emerged out of nowhere to tie for second – remember the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black nine months ago? – there was something different about Pebble Beach.

Duval opened with a 67 at Spyglass Hill, a course that used to give him fits even in the best of times. Asked if it was the first time he had broken 70 there, Duval responded in a text message, “Yes sir. Big things coming.”

For the rest of the week, his name stayed on the leaderboard.

And for the first time since the 2001 – the year of his last victory – his name was atop the leaderboard as the final group came to the 18th hole of a tournament. That changed when Dustin Johnson made birdie from the bunker for a one-shot victory, joining an elite list of back-to-back winners at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Duval finished more than a half-hour ahead of Johnson and had his own chance at birdie. His wedge came up a few paces short of staying on the tiny shelf, instead rolling down the ridge to the bottom of the green some 30 feet away.

“Any time you’re standing on the last hole with a chance to maybe get in the playoff or win a golf tournament, you have to look at it as a successful, competitive week – period,” he said.

The trick now is to keep going.

Perhaps because he had fallen so far, so much was made of Duval’s tie for second in the U.S. Open. Instead of building on that performance, he took the next two weeks off. In his final eight tournaments, Duval made only one cut and failed to keep his card when he finished 130th on the money list.

It was a small step forward, a big leap back.

At Bethpage Black, it was a matter of making several long putts to keep from sliding down the leaderboard. At Pebble Beach, it was more about the way he hit the ball so consistently over four days. Most putts at Pebble Beach, especially when the conditions are soft and bumpy in February, are almost made by accident.

“I got more satisfaction today out of hitting the golf shots through the course of 18 holes and controlling my golf ball in … somewhat difficult conditions,” Duval said. “Given the circumstances, to do that and to post a decent score, I feel good about that.”

He closed with a 69, one of only seven scores in the 60s in the final round when the pins were tucked, the ocean breeze was stiff and players no longer could lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

Perhaps the most satisfying part was heading to the practice green after he signed his card to stay loose in case there was a playoff, with his two youngest children, Brayden and Sienna, watching from the edge of the green.

Duval earned $545,600 and has essentially the rest of the year to build on a good week.

He is playing primarily on sponsors’ exemptions this year, and while they should be readily available for a player who once was No. 1 in the world, Duval does not take them for granted.

“In a kind of strange way, it makes me proud,” Duval said. “I feel like I have given the folks who have given me starts this year good fire power for why they did it. That makes me feel good, too.”

More important was how he felt inside the ropes as the gap between Duval and the leaders kept shrinking on the back nine. Even as he hit a few errant tee shots down the stretch, Duval managed to escape with pars.

His best shot? A 7-iron to 10 feet on the par-3 17th for a birdie that put him in the game.

It felt like old times, yet when he finished the tournament, he kept his own expectations grounded.

“I feel like I’m getting back on top of everything how I want to,” Duval said. “This is what I expect of myself. I expect to play well. With that said, that doesn’t mean you’re going to have a chance to win every week, but you expect to be in control most of the time with what you’re trying to do.

“I’m just going to go try to hit a lot of fairways in Mexico and hit a lot of greens,” he said. “It’s really a simple recipe. Successful golf is a very simple recipe. I will try to do that again next week.”

 

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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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.