Duval Goes Back to Drawing Board

By George WhiteApril 7, 2006, 4:00 pm
Apparently, sometimes you have to take four steps backward to take three steps forward. And its difficult making any progress when that happens.
 
That is the scenario facing David Duval today. He is leaving Augusta and the Masters after a quick two-and-out. It is a depressing end in a season that now has seen him miss four cuts in a row. This, after surviving three cuts early in the season when it appeared that his nightmare of the past four years was just about over.
 
Duval opened with an 84 Thursday, following that with a rollercoaster 75 Friday. Back to the drawing board it is for the tortured 34-year-old who has fought practically every physical malady known to man since 2001, when he won for the last time. Oh ' that was the British Open, incidentally, and it is the Opens five-year exemption that has kept him playing. That one, however, runs out after this season.
 
David Duval
David Duval may have taken his final stroll down Augusta Nationals fairways.
Thursdays lowlight was a string of five holes beginning the back nine where he made three double-bogeys and two bogeys. Friday started even more miserably ' he took a six on the first hole and 10 on the second. Commendably, he made five birdies over his final 12 holes ' Duval never did chuck it in. But he had to struggle throughout to keep from slipping into last place.
 
Duval understandably didnt want to talk too much about the experience following this disaster. No soul-searching mea culpas were expected, and none were forthcoming. It was simply time to reflect, time to get on with more practice ' and time to forget.
 
'He's hitting it as well as he's ever hit it,' swing coach Puggy Blackmon had told the Rocky Mountain News earlier this week before the first round was played. 'Technically and fundamentally, he's back.
 
'Now it's just a matter of when it all comes together - with the mental part and confidence and all the other stuff that comes with being a world-class golfer. It's going to happen; it's just a matter of when.'
 
Duval has shown flashes of the old David. In his first and only cut made last year, in September at the Valero Texas Open, Duval put his finger on the problem.
 
It's a cycle that needed to be broken, he said. But I've been playing a lot better than my scores have reflected for the last six weeks.
 
You know, each day I seem to hit the highest score I could possibly, the last six or eight rounds I've played. It's no different this week so far. I've hit it really well, just made a couple stupid mistakes.
 
Following that Texas Open appearance, he shot a 64 at Las Vegas in the second round, though a poor first round meant that he missed the cut in that one, too. And he fired a 63 in the last round of the Sony Open in January of this year.
 
That, incidentally, was his lowest score in three years and brought back memories to the 59 he shot at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.
 
'I thought about it,' he confessed that Sunday. 'It was relatively similar to the way I felt at the Hope. I wanted to do it again today.'
 
He made the cut again at the Hope this year. He missed at Phoenix, the then made it again at the Nissan ' his last success. That was the middle of February.
 
It's the same as I've been saying for all the year - I'm playing very well and just not getting anything out of it, he said after missing the cut at the Players Championship.
 
Alas. Duval has just been missing cuts of late ' hes been missing them badly. At Tucson, he missed by five strokes. At Bay Hill, the margin was four. And at the Players, it was six before the Masters.
 
He still has a couple of exemptions left, exemptions that he dearly hopes he wont have to use this quickly. He has a top-25 in career money for a one-time-only exemption. And, should he still be struggling, he can use a top-50 career money exemption once.
 
After those two exemptions, there is nothing - nothing to save the man who made it all the way to No. 1 in the world rankings in 1999 to interrupt Tiger Woods long run, nothing to soften the blow to this gent who once won four times in the spring before the 99 Masters. That hasnt been done since Johnny Miller in 1974.
 
The two exemptions, though, dont mean anything to the Augusta brass. Meaning, unless he breaks out of his four-year slump, Friday was his swan song at the Masters. This, from a man who in 98 might have won except for a 20-foot putt by Mark OMeara on the final hole. And he would have won in 2001 - should have won it after grabbing hold of the lead with three holes left - but a bogey and two missed birdie chances enabled Tiger Woods to pass him. And either win would have meant Duval could have played here until a ripe old age.
 
If its any consolation, Duval has much better stats this year than last. Before Augusta, he was striping his tee shots 296.8 yards, compared to only 287.5 last year. His driving-accuracy isnt good at only 47.1 percent, but that is a quantum leap compared to last years 41.9. His greens-in-regulation percentage has risen to 61.4 ' it was 50.5 last year. And, he is a much better putter ' 1.759 per hole, whereas last year it was 1.812.
 
The point is, he is much improved over last year. The depressing fact is, he still isnt playing well enough to play on the PGA Tour. And the Masters certainly didnt offer him any encouragement to the contrary.
 
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Related Links:
  • Duval's Masters Scorecard
  • Full Coverage - 70th Masters Tournament
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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.


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    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.

    @tommyfleetwood_1

    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.