David Duval Friday Masters Press Conference Transcript
Q. David, how much fun did you have today?
DAVID DUVAL: About the same as yesterday. I'm having a great time. Like I said, I felt like I was swinging the golf club good. You know, today I kind of kept myself out of a position where I could hit a couple fliers like I did yesterday, and so I kind of basically -- I think what I did today was shoot the score I could have shot yesterday. So, I feel really good about everything.
Q. David, has there been any residual effect from your trouble in your hand and how much rust -- I know you worked hard the week before TPC, how much did that affect yesterday's round not playing?
DAVID DUVAL: Well, it was actually after the week of Honda. I was done through there. I thought there would be a fair amount of rust, but I guess I hit so many balls, I grooved it pretty good and hopped right back on the horse, it seemed, and I was right back where I wanted, if not better and it has had no effect as of now.
Q. Given the fact that you have not played competitively in a month, are you at all surprised where you are?
DAVID DUVAL: No. I've played countless golf tournaments. It's not like actually the time off I've had is nothing compared to like what we have had in the past from off-season to the start of the year. So I had some good preparation, I thought, although it was not as much as I may have wanted from Saturday through Wednesday. So I'm not surprised at all.
Q. Were you curious to see how it would unfold?
DAVID DUVAL: Sure, I was curious. I guess I didn't really know what to expect, but at the same time, I knew my golf game was where it needed to be and I knew I was putting extremely well. So basically, I just had to go out there and get out of my own way.
Q. David, what were your expectations coming in here, and were they any different than in past years?
DAVID DUVAL: No. No different than past years. You know, I came in here with every intention of winning the golf tournament, and I still have that. Did I know what to expect? Not necessarily. But after the few days I had of practice, I felt very good about my swing and my putting and the only question I had where I felt like I wasn't maybe hitting my driver as well as I wanted to, really through Wednesday, even, and seemed to hit it pretty good on -- late on Wednesday afternoon, a little bit, and then in the morning, and got up on 1 on Thursday and hit a real nice high cut just way down the fairway and hit it good ever since.
Q. Tiger said that experience helps at a major down the stretch, as you've been there. How much of the experiences you've had, how much do they help you going into this weekend, the good and the bad?
DAVID DUVAL: Well, I think all they can do is help. All they can do is help me. I've been there for three straight years and I know what the feelings are like and I know what to expect. So I think that's invaluable here, especially, because you know there's some golf shots that you are going to have to hit and you know how you are going to feel standing over them. So, I am excited about my prospects.
Q. You missed the last four fairways and still got good results every time. Is that an indication the rough may not be all that difficult, or are you playing that well with your irons right now?
DAVID DUVAL: Well I think that's kind of like, you know, saying, I guess -- I don't know if you were out there, but it's like calling a missed green when you are this far into the fringe (indicating inches) you are splitting hairs right now. I drove it through the fairway on 15 and it was blocked in the green and I just had to chip it. 17, I could not have been five steps off the fairway. That's the way most of them were I guess.
Q. At the risk of getting a big sales pitch, how are you getting the new irons dialed in and what's the progress?
DAVID DUVAL: They are great. I mean, I -- I appreciate everybody's concern. (Laughter.) You know, I've seen: 'It's the fifth set'; 'the third set'; 'tweaked 23 times.' You know, it's the second set of golf clubs, and I think they are spectacular. It is exactly what I was looking for, and, you know, thank you. (Laughs).
Q. How long did it take you to put last year behind you?
DAVID DUVAL: You know, I don't know. It's hard to say. I didn't really think about it, so probably -- probably not as long as '98, but, you know, I think as -- after you have are experienced it once and you kind of know again what it feels like, so you just kind of move on and think about, you know, next year and how you can make yourself have a better chance the following year.
Q. You were talking the other day about still looking for your first break out here during crunch time and all that. How do you think your karma is? Are you feeling better?
DAVID DUVAL: I think it's great. Everything is aligning properly. You know, my intent every year here is -- and as I've said, and I don't -- I think everybody in this room would agree, you have to have some good breaks to win golf tournaments like this. But my intent coming in here is not to need those breaks by hitting the ball well and putting well and playing smart so trying, in essence, to eliminate every mistake so I don't need a break. And that's what I'm trying to do. You know, if I need one, I'd sure would like to get one.
Q. The shots at 14 and 18, the second shots on 14 and 18, did they mean an awful lot coming down the stretch? You didn't seem uncomfortable at all. Were they as easy as it looked for you?
DAVID DUVAL: You know, the shot on 14 was as easy as it is to hit it from 190 yards and hit a big sweeping hook. It's kind of like when you stand on the 12th tee, you have to hit that shot. You have to hit it over the bunkers there. Again, it's just a shot that I had to hit, and I was hoping to hook it around and maybe just run it through the green. I guess it pitched right into the mound short and turned out great. The 18th was not -- I was quite surprised. I thought I hit in the bunker off the tee, and, you know, the golf shot itself was not terrible. It was not difficult. I had 116 yards, so not a terribly difficult shot.
Q. We're seeing a big-name leaderboard take shape for the weekends. Does that excite you to see in a major tournament?
DAVID DUVAL: As a fan, certainly. As a player, this week, I'm really not concerned with any other name on the board except my own. I guess what that means is I'm out there trying to play myself and do the best I can and I'm not getting caught up with who else is out there playing well and who is ahead of me or behind me. It's just I've got a job to do and I've been here, like I said -- severing several times I've had the chance and I have an idea what it takes to win the golf tournament, regardless who is playing. I'm not concerned. That's why I say that.
Q. At what point does that change, on the back nine on Sunday? Whether you are playing yourself or concerned about others?
DAVID DUVAL: I don't think it really changes. It doesn't -- certainly, how you stand in the golf tournament might dictate it, but I thought -- by name specific, it doesn't -- whether it is Tiger Woods or Vijay Singh or Phil Mickelson, the shots that you have to hit are going to be the same. The situation might dictate me to do something regardless of whose name it is that you are ahead of or behind.
Q. As far as your wrist is concerned, as soon as you got the cortisone shot, did that change everything? No more discomfort?
DAVID DUVAL: No. It was -- the first day, it was about seven days later was the first time I was kind of pain-free, maybe. Maybe six days. The discomfort was knocked out in there three to four days but I still felt it for a couple day as of that.
Q. Given all of the up-and-downs and travails this year, when was the last time you were this fired up to get out and play on a Saturday?
DAVID DUVAL: Probably not this year. You know, to be honest with you, as everybody knows, there has been a lot of stuff going on. But that's kind of behind me, a lot of it, and some of it I have no control over when it is going to end. So, you know, then I had to deal with a bit of a wrist injury, so I'm as jacked as can be, and like I said coming in here, I thought if there's one thing I had going for me, I would be the freshest player in the field. The second hole, I knocked it down in the left bunker. I hit it out to about five feet. The seventh hole, I hit sand wedge to about three feet. The eighth hole I hit 3-wood on the green, about 30 feet, 35, something like that and 2-putted. 9, I hit 9-iron to about 12 feet. 12 was an 8-iron to about 20 feet. 13, I hit a 5-iron on the green and 2-putted from -- I don't know, 50 feet maybe, it was. 16, I hit 8-iron to the right -- on the right shelf and stayed there and 3-putted and 18 I hit the sand wedge to about a foot.
Q. How big was it to get back the birdie after what happened on 16 and 17?
DAVID DUVAL: It was nice. You know, 17 wasn't -- nothing bad really happened there. I thought I hit a nice putt through that fringe there, but it felt really good. It was nice to -- I felt like I certainly had -- I should certainly be 7- or 8-under. I felt like I played well enough to be a little bit better than I was, and it's not that I hit such a poor golf shot on 16, like I said, I didn't hit the shot I have to hit and it's not a place you can leave that. But I was very pleased to have that. It was funny, the reaction was so delayed, I don't know what happened, if it just started trickling or had enough spin or what. It was nice -- even better when you are that far, so, you know, to grind over the last one.
Q. How long was the par putt that you missed on 16?
DAVID DUVAL: Ten feet maybe. I'd say ten feet maybe. It just went right down to the front of the fringe, just stopped short of the string.
Farmers inks 7-year extension through 2026
SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance has signed a seven-year extension to serve as the title sponsor for the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, it was announced Tuesday. The deal will run through 2026.
“Farmers Insurance has been incredibly supportive of the tournament and the Century Club’s charitable initiatives since first committing to become the title sponsor in 2010,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.
“We are extremely grateful for the strong support of Farmers and its active role as title sponsor, and we are excited by the commitment Farmers has made to continue sponsorship of the Farmers Insurance Open for an additional seven years.
In partnership with Farmers, the Century Club – the tournament’s host organization – has contributed more than $20 million to deserving organizations benefiting at-risk youth since 2010.
Woods impresses DeChambeau, Day on Tuesday
SAN DIEGO – Bryson DeChambeau played with Tiger Woods for the first time Tuesday morning, and the biggest surprise was that he wasn’t overcome by nerves.
“That’s what I was concerned about,” DeChambeau said. “Am I just gonna be slapping it around off the tee? But I was able to play pretty well.”
So was Woods.
DeChambeau said that Woods looked “fantastic” as he prepares to make his first PGA Tour start in a year.
“His game looks solid. His body doesn’t hurt. He’s just like, yeah, I’m playing golf again,” DeChambeau said. “And he’s having fun, too, which is a good thing.”
Woods arrived at Torrey Pines before 7 a.m. local time Tuesday, when the temperature hadn’t yet crept above 50 degrees. He warmed up and played the back nine of Torrey Pines’ South Course with DeChambeau and Jason Day.
“He looks impressive; it was good to see,” Day told PGATour.com afterward. “You take (Farmers) last year and the Dubai tournament out, and he hasn’t really played in two years. I think the biggest thing is to not get too far ahead, or think he’s going to come back and win straight away.
“The other time he came back, I don’t think he was ready and he probably came back too soon. This time he definitely looks ready. I think his swing is really nice, he’s hitting the driver a long way and he looks like he’s got some speed, which is great.”
Woods said that his caddie, Joe LaCava, spent four days with him in South Florida last week and that he’s ready to go.
“Before the Hero I was basically given the OK probably about three or four weeks prior to the tournament, and I thought I did pretty good in that prep time,” Woods told ESPN.com, referring to his tie for ninth in the 18-man event.
“Now I’ve had a little more time to get ready for this event. I’ve played a lot more golf, and overall I feel like I’ve made some nice changes. I feel good.”
Woods is first off Torrey Pines’ North Course in Wednesday’s pro-am, scheduled for 6:40 a.m. local time.
With blinders on, Rahm within reach of No. 1 at Torrey
SAN DIEGO – The drive over to Torrey Pines from Palm Springs, Calif., takes about two and a half hours, which was plenty of time for Jon Rahm’s new and ever-evolving reality to sink in.
The Spaniard arrived in Southern California for a week full of firsts. The Farmers Insurance Open will mark the first time he’s defended a title on the PGA Tour following his dramatic breakthrough victory last year, and it will also be his first tournament as the game’s second-best player, at least according to the Official World Golf Ranking.
Rahm’s victory last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his second on Tour and fourth worldwide tilt over the last 12 months, propelled the 23-year-old to No. 2 in the world, just behind Dustin Johnson. His overtime triumph also moved him to within four rounds of unseating DJ atop the global pecking order.
It’s impressive for a player who at this point last year was embarking on his first full season as a professional, but then Rahm has a fool-proof plan to keep from getting mired in the accolades of his accomplishments.
“It's kind of hard to process it, to be honest, because I live my day-to-day life with my girlfriend and my team around me and they don't change their behavior based on what I do, right?” he said on Tuesday at Torrey Pines. “They'll never change what they think of me. So I really don't know the magnitude of what I do until I go outside of my comfort zone.”
Head down and happy has worked perfectly for Rahm, who has finished outside the top 10 in just three of his last 10 starts and began 2018 with a runner-up showing at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and last week’s victory.
According to the world ranking math, Rahm is 1.35 average ranking points behind Johnson and can overtake DJ atop the pack with a victory this week at the Farmers Insurance Open; but to hear his take on his ascension one would imagine a much wider margin.
“I've said many times, beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task,” Rahm said. “We all know what happened last time he was close to a lead in a tournament on the PGA Tour.”
Rahm certainly remembers. It was just three weeks ago in Maui when he birdied three of his first six holes, played the weekend at Kapalua in 11 under and still finished eight strokes behind Johnson.
And last year at the WGC-Mexico Championship when Rahm closed his week with rounds of 67-68 only to finish two strokes off Johnson’s winning pace, or a few weeks later at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play when he took Johnson the distance in the championship match only to drop a 1-up decision to the game’s undisputed heavyweight.
As far as Rahm has come in an incredibly short time - at this point last year he ranked 137th in the world - it is interesting that it’s been Johnson who has had an answer at every turn.
He knows there’s still so much room for improvement, both physically and mentally, and no one would ever say Rahm is wanting for confidence, but after so many high-profile run-ins with Johnson, his cautious optimism is perfectly understandable.
“I'll try to focus more on what's going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win,” he reasoned when asked about the prospect of unseating Johnson, who isn’t playing this week. “I'll try my best, that's for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”
If Rahm’s take seems a tad cliché given the circumstances, consider that his aversion to looking beyond the blinders is baked into the competitive cake. For all of his physical advantages, of which there are many, it’s his keen ability to produce something special on command that may be even more impressive.
Last year at Torrey Pines was a quintessential example of this, when he began the final round three strokes off the lead only to close his day with a back-nine 30 that included a pair of eagles.
“I have the confidence that I can win here, whereas last year I knew I could but I still had to do it,” he said. “I hope I don't have to shoot 30 on the back nine to win again.”
Some will point to Rahm’s 60-footer for eagle at the 72nd hole last year as a turning point in his young career, it was even named the best putt on Tour by one publication despite the fact he won by three strokes. But Rahm will tell you that walk-off wasn’t even the best shot he hit during the final round.
Instead, he explained that the best shot of the week, the best shot of the year, came on the 13th hole when he launched a 4-iron from a bunker to 18 feet for eagle, a putt that he also made.
“If I don't put that ball on the green, which is actually a lot harder than making that putt, the back nine charge would have never happened and this year might have never happened, so that shot is the one that made everything possible,” he explained.
Rahm’s ability to embrace and execute during those moments is what makes him special and why he’s suddenly found himself as the most likely contender to Johnson’s throne even if he chooses not to spend much time thinking about it.
Rahm focusing on play, not shot at No. 1
SAN DIEGO – Jon Rahm’s meteoric rise in the world rankings could end with him reaching No. 1 with a win this week at Torrey Pines.
After winning last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his fourth title in 51 weeks, Rahm has closed the gap on Dustin Johnson – less than 1.5 average points separates them.
With Johnson not playing this week, the 23-year-old Spaniard has a chance to reach the top spot for the first time, but only if he defends his title at the Farmers Insurance Open.
“Beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task. It’s no easy task,” he said Tuesday. “We still have four days of golf ahead and we’ll see what happens. But I’ll try to focus more on what’s going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win.
“I’ll try my best, that’s for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”
Rahm has already become the fourth-youngest player to reach No. 2 in the world, behind Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy.