The Worst is Over Says Duval

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 13, 2003, 4:00 pm
2003 PGA ChampionshipPractice makes perfect, they say. Practice anything long enough, and the mechanics will fall into place. Practice until it is ingrained, second nature, and you will perform flawlessly.
 
Not true, said David Duval on the Golf Channel Tuesday night. Hes living proof that practice doesnt always make it perfect. Sometimes it just grooves the imperfections.
 
Practice makes permanent ' not actually perfect, Duval said. What I was ingraining was bad habits.
 
I was making a lot of compensatory moves for my back, my shoulder, my wrist. So through the course of that, Im ingraining a bad setup, a bad address position, a bad takeaway. Those kind of things are hard to get out of.
 
Duval was the best player in the world, Tiger Woods notwithstanding, for several months in 1999. He was ranked No. 1 throughout the summer, became the first player since Johnny Miller in 74 to win four times before the Masters. He shot a 59 on the final day on the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. He made his first Ryder Cup team.
 
That year was the highest of highs, despite the fact that he didnt win his major ' the British Open ' until 2001. The lowest of lows has occurred this year - shooting in the 80s four times, falling to 137th in the Official World Rankings. What has happened in four years?
 
You probably need look no further than the injuries that have plagued him. The worst offender has been his back. He was sidelined for 10 weeks in 2000. In 2001 it was tendons in his wrist. In 2002, he was hit first by a severe stomach virus, then sustained a shoulder injury. This year, he was diagnosed with vertigo. And to top it all off, he has been bothered again this season by the back ' and his neck.
 
The problem may have been that he tried TOO much. He just couldnt accept, despite the injuries which forced him to slightly change his swing, that in 2002 this was David Duval. David Duval ' even an injured David Duval ' didnt perform at this low level.
 
Through the course of that year - although it wasn't as disastrous as this has been - I continued to work and put in the time and practice harder than I have in a long, long time, because I felt like I needed to, he said. But with the compensations he was making to swing without pain, he was practicing in all the wrong ways.
 
I continued to do that through the year, he said. And as the year started (2003) ' the same thing.
 
And then
 
Actually not many people know, I threw my back again out last week on Friday, he revealed. And something like that, having worked so long now with (Columbus, Ga., back specialist) Tom Boers, having gone through this, it just doesn't happen. So what that means is it's been building up.
 
So I've had a problem with it six weeks again, eight weeks, who knows? What that did was put me back in those old habits of getting in here slouched and low, so that took the pressure off my back, and that just threw me off again.
 
And the vertigo has done considerable harm, much more than an intensely private man would care to suggest.
 
That floored me a little more than I let on, confessed Duval. That lasted up until a month ago. Not so much the dizzy spells I had, but kind of a hangover feeling, foggy head, you know. Not every day, but five days out of the week. So it lasted a little longer than I let people believe.
 
Those were all the physical things that Duval has faced. But its a mental blow that had him at a low for most of last year. His engagement to longtime girlfriend Julie McArthur ended last year, a breakup that was very difficult, he confesses. McArthur was Duvals constant companion who traveled everywhere with him. Suddenly she wasnt there. It was personally devastating.
 
Yeah. I mean, you know, I spent eight years with a really good woman, and anytime you break up after eight years - married, unmarried, engaged, whatever - it's a tough thing, said Duval. And to go from having a companion and a traveling mate to being solo again is certainly hard. You know, that's going to affect anyone.
 
Duval, though, has taken several steps to right the ship. The relationship is gone, he realizes. But professionally, there are measures which must be taken, steps which can be made to start the long, slow process back.
 
And he has started to climb back. For one thing, he has gotten several different viewpoints about what changes he should make to get his swing back to where it was. The injuries had a debilitating effect on his motion, but finally he is resolving that.
 
He has seen his old college coach, Puggy Blackmon. He has listened to his father, Champions Tour member Bob Duval. He has spent time with David Ledbetter. He currently is seeing Jack Lumpkin.
 
It was hard to take that initial step outside of what I'd say is the box - my box, you know, Duval said. But as you do that, and as you get comfortable with that, really the best way to approach it is not to take one step, it's to take two or three.
 
And when you see a few different people, and if they're saying the same things - wait a second, let's think about this. So obviously something is going on. You see different people, they're all saying different things, maybe they're not seeing the problem.
 
So seeing Jack, spending time with David, my caddie Mitch, a few of my other friends out here who play, most of them are addressing the same things, saying it was much more in the setup and address position than anything else.
 
Winning the British Open in 2001 was the ultimate, although it might have taken away some of his drive. Duval had won his major, and though there seemingly was so much more to accomplish, a major hurdle had already been circumvented. He admits that maybe he relaxed a little bit the remainder of that year. Then came the injuries, the broken engagement, and all the heartbreak that goes with playing poorly. But he feels he has the train on the tracks again. He is about to come out of this tailspin, he believes.
 
I think some of it can go back to achieving a lot of the very specific goals I set out, Duval said. And when you do that at age 30 - you're 30, you've achieved goals you've been striving for 20 years, you're going to be adrift a little bit. There's just no way around it.
 
I feel like I'm now on the right track. Certainly I've had times where I'm like, you know, I'm tired of this. I can't take it anymore. But that's just not me. When I get away, get away from the golf course, that's just not me. I want to face it head on and keep playing. I have a ball playing still.
 
Like I said, I've had some tough days this year, some bad scores and some really tough days and some terrible feelings when I've been playing. But, you know, I go home and I have a ball and I still love to do it.
 
Duval, after all, has had a wonderful life already. Hes won over $16 million. Hes traveled the world, enjoyed success at every stop, and hes still a young man in his 30s.
 
'I'm a lucky man, he said. I've achieved a lot of things. I've played for 10 years now and I've had 8 , nine great years.

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.
 
Related Links:
  • TheGolfChannel.com Bio: David Duval
  • 2003 PGA Championship Home
  • More News from the 2003 PGA Championship
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.