Disney Taught Duval How To Persevere
The number had grown to 0-for-92. He had come so close so many times, but as a professional, you had to wonder when it would happen.
And then ' voila ' he won at Kingsmill in 1997. And one week later the floodgates swung open again at the Walt Disney World Classic. Duval won again, and you wondered if he ever was going to lose.
Duval was to go on a tear of seven wins in 13 months, but in October of 97, he had just won his debut event and was about to go into another. Winning was still new, even a little weird. He had won many times in college, even been a rare four-time All-American, and he had won on the Buy.Com (then Nike) Tour. But for nearly three years on the regular tour, he had known nothing but heartbreak and near misses.
Then, suddenly, he went to Disney a tournament winner.
Two and four-fifths of a year on Tour, I didnt win a golf tournament, Duval explained. However, I had the opportunity to win ' I dont know ' probably a dozen tournaments up until then. Some of them I was close to the lead starting the final day, so I had many opportunities.
And the point Im getting at is that, once I learned how and figured how to do it, I havent done anything differently. I just continued to get it that position where I have an opportunity to win.
He had broken through at Kingsmill in a playoff against Duffy Waldorf and Grant Waite. He came down to Disney at Orlando and, after three holes at the short Lake Buena Vista course, he found himself at 2-over-par.
It kind of woke me up and made me realize I had another tournament to play in, he said. Obviously I came to town walking about two inches off the ground, but once the tournament started, it kind of knocked me to the ground and woke me up.
He finished that first day by eventually recording nine birdies, which turned his 2-over into 7-under. Duval was tied for second, one shot behind Payne Stewart.
Following a second round in which he shot 70, he fell down the ladder to five shots behind Stewart. But a third-round 66, 6-under-par, put him solidly in second place. Beginning Sunday, he was only two shots out of the lead held by Len Mattiace.
In the fourth round, all the things that used to turn defeats ' suddenly turned into successes. On the 71st hole, he hit an errant drive with a 3-wood, but the ball hit a tree and bounded out in the fairway. He bogeyed the 72nd, and in the old days, either one of those would be enough to send him spiraling down out of contention.
Not at Disney. He grittily hung in there and was still alive, going into a playoff with Dan Forsman. On the first hole, though, Duval again encountered trouble. He knocked his approach into a bunker, then compounded his difficulties by hitting a lukewarm bunker shot.
He still had life, however, when Forsmans approach shot died in a horrible lie near the green. Forsman flubbed his chip shot, Duval stroked his 15-foot putt dead in the center, and suddenly it was over. Duval, who up to now couldnt buy a win with a million dollars, suddenly couldnt lose even when he was botching the three final holes.
Im motivated by my potential, whatever that is, he said. I know now what it feels like. And I know this is turning into a good streak.
Duvals victories at Kingsmill and Disney were the impetus that kick-started him onto a year-long run that didnt stop until he had passed Tiger Woods and reached No. 1 in the world. He, incidentally, was the last one to reach that lofty goal until Woods regained the top rung in 1999.
Once I learned how and figured out how to do it, I havent done anything different, Duval said. When I have an opportunity to win now, I feel more comfortable about closing the deal now. Instead of not finishing them off, I have.
Duval has battled injuries the past two years, primarily a problematic back. Outside expectations are not necessarily high for me right now, he says.
Yet he himself has high expectations. But even when he was finishing in the runner-up position, he felt he was doing something that only one man in the entire field had done.
I think ' and I still think ' that most people dont understand that if you finish second in a PGA Tour event, youve played very, very well, said Duval. Its nothing to hang your head about. Youve played great golf, and made a few putts, but you might have come up a shot or two short. Theres nothing to hang your head low about in that situation.
McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.
The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.
McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.
McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.
''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''
Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.
''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''
McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.
''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''
The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.
''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''
The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.
Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel
If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days engaging pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.
Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:
When in the Middle East... pic.twitter.com/lNv1Lh79E0— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) January 16, 2018
If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGCC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:
Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."
Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."
I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H
And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.
Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational
Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.
The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.
Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.
“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”
Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews
Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.
Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.