Duvals Big Question - What Will Happen in 2004

By George WhiteJanuary 6, 2004, 5:00 pm
Of all the question marks hanging over the 2004 golf season, the one looming the largest is this: What will happen to the career of David Duval?
Not so long ago, Duval was the best golfer in the world. In 1998 and early 1999, he won eight times and was the No. 1-ranked player for 15 straight weeks. Tiger Woods was still just Woods, not Tiger. There was no Ernie, no Vijay, no one to challenge Duvals dominance.
But Duval was about to hit the skids. And when he self-destructed, he really self-destructed. Oh, Lee Westwood may have rivaled it somewhat, but this year Westwood pulled out of that terrible tailspin. Duval goes into this season still wondering when will it end?
As late as 2001, he was still pretty competitive. In that year, he won the British Open. However, the nagging injuries began slowly popping up. There was a five-week layoff early in the year when tendonitis inflamed his left wrist. He has always had problems with a tender back. And in 2002, the trickle of bad news became a torrent.
First, he and his longtime girlfriend ended their relationship after eight years. As could be expected, the breakup was a mental setback of immense proportions. Then the following week, Duval hurt his right shoulder. The downhill slide had already begun ' and as we know, practice makes permanent, not actually perfect, Duval said. That is, if you are practicing with faulty moves, those faulty moves soon begin to feel like the right moves. The train was about to leave the station.
I was making a lot of compensatory moves for my back, my wrist, he said during a Golf Channel appearance late in 2003. So through the course of that, Im ingraining a bad setup, bad address position, a bad takeaway. Those kinds of things are hard to get out of.
Vertigo the wrist the shoulder the back the romance what else could go wrong?
He fell to No. 44 in the world in 2002, then to 238th by the end of 2003. In 2003, he was so lost that he made only four of 20 cuts. Could things have been much worse?
Hes exempt through 2006 with his British Open victory, so he still has plenty of time. But there has to be that little whisper of a doubt ' will he ever regain it? And the question is, can he once again remember what it felt like in 98 and 99 when he was steadily rolling up the victories? If he can find that feeling of a near-perfect golf swing ' great! If he cant .
Duval has earned well over $20 mil in paydays and endorsements. He is in no danger of missing a meal or a house payment for the rest of his life, even if he never makes another penny from the game. But what if, at age 32, he finally found it impossible to play? What would he do to occupy the hours in the day?
Duval looks at Westwood and realizes that golf is a fickle game indeed ' one day you are absolutely without a clue as to how to play, then one day it starts to come back and suddenly you win again ' and again. Until that time comes, he will keep searching for the swing he had in 1999.
It's times like these when you find out what type of impact you have, you know, he said. And it's times like these when I feel most responsible to act like a professional.
It's easy to act that way when you're winning golf tournaments, finishing high on the money list, and conduct yourself in a proper manner. It's hard when you're shooting 83. But that's when you need to do it most.
David Duval isnt one of the names mentioned when the 2004 Ryder Cup is being discussed. He isnt being touted as a potential winner at Atlanta or Memorial or the Players Championship. No one can see him shooting 59 again at the Hope ' which he did in 99. If he is on somebodys comeback list for this year, it is purely through faith and an eye to 98-99 when he swung so effortlessly and won so easily.

I said, I'm a lucky man. I've achieved a lot of things. I've played for 10 years now and I've had eight and a half, nine great years, he noted.

Unfortunately in this game, you know, you can't choose your obstacles. In this life you can't choose your obstacles. So I have some pretty good obstacles to overcome at this moment.
Sounds like life will go on, regardless of whether his golf game is world-caliber or not. He wants to regain it, feels certain he will regain it, but if by some chance he doesnt, he will simply move on to something else. Maybe he will be Lee Westwood. Maybe he will be Ian Baker-Finch.
Its just golf, he says. Im damn lucky. Ive got a great life. Nobody wants to believe that. Im not playing good golf right now, but it doesnt define my life.
We assume he will start the season with a clean bill of health and a settled personal life. We hope we can assume a return to prominence of the PGA Tour. But if thats not possible, Duval is more than willing to settle for a happy remainder of his life.
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DJ: Kapalua win means nothing for Abu Dhabi

By Associated PressJanuary 17, 2018, 2:55 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Dustin Johnson's recent victory in Hawaii doesn't mean much when it comes to this week's tournament.

The top-ranked American will play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the second straight year. But this time he is coming off a victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which he won by eight shots.

''That was two weeks ago. So it really doesn't matter what I did there,'' said Johnson, who finished runner-up to Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi last year. ''This is a completely new week and everybody starts at even par and so I've got to start over again.''

In 2017, the long-hitting Johnson put himself in contention despite only making one eagle and no birdies on the four par-5s over the first three rounds.

''The par 5s here, they are not real easy because they are fairly long, but dependent on the wind, I can reach them if I hit good tee balls,'' the 2016 U.S. Open champion said. ''Obviously, I'd like to play them a little better this year.''

The tournament will see the return of Paul Casey as a full member of the European Tour after being away for three years.

''It's really cool to be back. What do they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder? Quite cheesy, but no, really, really cool,'' said the 40-year-old Englishman, who is now ranked 14th in the world. ''When I was back at the Open Championship at Birkdale, just the reception there, playing in front of a home crowd, I knew this is something I just miss.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship starts Thursday and also features former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is making a comeback after more than three months off.

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Kuchar joins European Tour as affiliate member

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 2:52 pm

Months after he nearly captured the claret jug, Matt Kuchar has made plans to play a bit more golf in Europe in 2018.

Kuchar is in the field this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told reporters in advance of the opening round that he has opted to join the European Tour as an affiliate member:

As an affiliate member, Kuchar will not have a required minimum number of starts to make. It's the same membership status claimed last year by Kevin Na and Jon Rahm, the latter of whom then became a full member and won two European Tour events in 2017.

Kuchar made six European Tour starts last year, including his runner-up performance at The Open. He finished T-4 at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in his lone European Tour start that wasn't co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.

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Hot Seat: Rory jumps into the fire early

By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2018, 2:11 pm

The world’s top tours head to desert regions this week, perfect locales for The Hot Seat, the gauge upon which we measure the level of heat the game’s top personalities are facing ...

Sahara sizzle: Rory McIlroy

McIlroy won’t have to look far to see how his form measures up to world No. 1 Dustin Johnson at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

McIlroy will make his 2018 debut with Johnson in his face, literally.

McIlroy will be grouped with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood in the first two rounds.

Players like to downplay pairings early in a tournament, but it’s hard to believe McIlroy and Johnson won’t be trying to send each other messages in this European Tour event in the United Arab Emirates. That’s the alpha-dog nature of world-class players looking to protect their turf, or in the case of McIlroy, take back his turf.

“When you are at the elite level, you are always trying to send a message,” Trevor Immelman said about pairings during Tiger Woods’ return at the Hero World Challenge last month.

And that was an offseason event.

“They want to show this guy, ‘This is what I got,’” Immelman said.

As early season matchups go, Abu Dhabi is a heavyweight pairing that ought to be fun.

So there will be no easing into the new year for McIlroy after taking off the last three months to regroup from the stubborn rib injury that plagued him last season. He is coming off a winless year, and he will be doing so alongside a guy who just won the first PGA Tour event of 2018 in an eight-shot rout. Johnson’s victory in Hawaii two weeks ago was his fifth since McIlroy last won.

“Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place, and that was because of where I was physically,” McIlroy said of 2017. “I feel prepared now. I feel ready, and I feel ready to challenge. I feel really good about where I’m at with my health. I’ve put all that behind me, which has been great.”

Sonoran Smolder: Phil Mickelson

Mickelson will turn 48 this summer.

His world ranking is sliding, down to No. 43 now, which is the lowest he has ranked in 24 years.

It’s been more than four years since he last won, making him 0 for his last 92 starts.

There’s motivation in all of that for Mickelson. He makes his 2018 debut at the CareerBuilder Challenge in the Palm Springs area this week talking like a man on a renewed mission.

There’s a Ryder Cup team to make this season, which would be his 12th straight, and there’s a career Grand Slam to claim, with the U.S. Open returning to Shinnecock Hills, where Mickelson finished second in ’04.

While Mickelson may not feel old, there are so many young stars standing in his way that it’s hard not to be constantly reminded that time isn’t on his side in these events anymore.

There has only been one player in the history of the game to win a major championship who was older than Mickelson is right now. Julius Boros won the PGA Championship when he was 48 back in 1968.

Campaign fever: Jordan Spieth

Spieth’s respect in the game’s ranks extends outside the ropes.

He was just selected to run for the PGA Tour Player Advisory Council’s chairman position. He is facing Billy Hurley III in an election to see who will succeed Davis Love III on the Tour’s Policy Board next year.

Spieth, just 24, has already made Time Magazine’s list of the “100 Most Influential People.” He made that back in 2016, with the magazine writing that “he exemplifies everything that’s great about sports.” Sounds like a campaign slogan.

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CareerBuilder Challenge: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 1:10 pm

The PGA Tour shifts from Hawaii to Southern California for the second full-field event of the year. Here are the key stats and information for the CareerBuilder Challenge. Click here for full-field tee times.

How to watch (all rounds on Golf Channel):

Thursday, Rd. 1: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Sunday, Rd. 4: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Purse: $5.9 million ($1,062,000 to winner)

Courses: PGA West, Stadium Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,113); PGA West, Nicklaus Tournament Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,159); La Quinta Country Club, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,060) NOTE: All three courses will be used for the first three rounds but only the Stadium Course will be used for the final round.

Defending champion: Hudson Swafford (-20) - defeated Adam Hadwin by one stroke to earn his first PGA Tour win.

Notables in the field

Phil Mickelson

* This is his first start of 2018. It's the fourth consecutive year he has made this event the first one on his yearly calendar.

* For the second year in a row he will serve as the tournament's official ambassador.

* He has won this event twice - in 2002 and 2004.

* This will be his 97th worldwide start since his most recent win, The Open in 2013.

Jon Rahm

* Ranked No. 3 in the world, he finished runner-up in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

* In 37 worldwide starts as a pro, he has 14 top-5 finishes.

* Last year he finished T-34 in this event.

Adam Hadwin

* Last year in the third round, he shot 59 at La Quinta Country Club. It was the ninth - and still most recent - sub-60 round on Tour.

* In his only start of 2018, the Canadian finished 32nd in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

Brian Harman

* Only player on the PGA Tour with five top-10 finishes this season.

* Ranks fifth in greens in regulation this season.

* Finished third in the Sentry Tournament of Champions and T-4 in the Sony Open in Hawaii.

Brandt Snedeker

* Making only his third worldwide start since last June at the Travelers Championship. He has been recovering from a chest injury.

* This is his first start since he withdrew from the Indonesian Masters in December because of heat exhaustion.

* Hasn't played in this event since missing the cut in 2015.

Patrick Reed

* Earned his first career victory in this event in 2014, shooting three consecutive rounds of 63.

* This is his first start of 2018.

* Last season finished seventh in strokes gained: putting, the best ranking of his career.

(Stats provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit.)