The Curious Case of David Duval

By Jay CoffinNovember 3, 2009, 10:00 am

Project 99I was there when ... it all fell apart for David Duval.

First thought was, “Ouch.” Second thought was, “This man couldn’t possibly have shot 59.”

I was there at the 2003 PGA Championship when David Duval couldn’t hit the ball into the ocean if he had one toe in the water. Yet, that same man, four years prior at the Bob Hope Classic, played so well over 18 holes that he wasn’t capable of hitting an approach shot outside 10 feet. Two years earlier he collected his first major triumph at the Open Championship.

That sums up the curious case of David Duval. His game has been both magnificent and manic.

It’s no shock that Duval won the 1999 Bob Hope Classic, it’s just surprising how he won it. He entered the event having won eight of his previous 27 tournaments and was within a frog hair of Tiger Woods’ No. 1 ranking.

David Duval
David Duval watches his eagle putt drop for 59. (Getty Images)
Although Duval was on people’s minds as a contender early in the week, those thoughts faded entering the fifth and final round at PGA West’s Palmer Course when he was seven shots behind leader Steve Pate. Even a nifty front-nine 31 didn’t do too much to get people in the California desert worked up.

Three consecutive birdies to open the inward nine changed the tune dramatically. Suddenly, Pate and fellow contender John Huston had company. Television producers were sent scrambling to make sure they were prepared to follow every shot from Duval, and news of the heroics had spread among the gallery creating a sudden feeling that something special was about to happen.

With 59 on Duval’s mind, he closed stronger than New York Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera, going 2-3-3-3 over the final four holes.

The final hole produced some of the best theater in golf history. After a monstrous drive of 320 yards on the par-5 home hole, Duval had 226 yards to a back pin guarded by water on the left. He smoked a 5-iron that carried some 210 yards and ran past the hole to 6 feet. Duval calmly rolled in the eagle to shoot 59 and let out a series of fist-pumps that were forceful, yet not quite Tiger Woods-like only because they lacked practice, not emotion.

“There it is. Fifty-nine. The best final round. Ever,” was the call from ABC’s Mike Tirico.

“It was an easy 59,” said playing partner Jeff Maggert, who, by comparison, chopped it around in 66. “I’ve never seen anyone hit the ball that close for an entire round. It was sort of like a no-hitter. I didn’t want to say the wrong thing.”

Duval, 27 years old at the time, hit 11-of-13 fairways, 17-of-18 greens, had 23 putts, made 11 birdies, one eagle and hit approach shots inside of 5 feet on half of the 18 holes.

“I was more excited about the score than having the chance to win the golf tournament,” Duval said that day, Jan. 24, 1999. “I certainly had aspirations of winning, but the 59 was first and foremost in my mind.”

The year continued to be great for Duval. He won four times before the Masters, including The Players Championship on the same day his father, Bob, won on the Champions Tour. A victory the week before the Masters gave Duval the top spot in the world ranking, supplanting Woods’ stranglehold on the position for the previous 41 weeks. Duval held the position for the next three months.

Each of the next couple years got progressively worse, back problems being the biggest culprit.

What I saw in 2003 defies explanation for myriad reasons.

Duval arrived at Oak Hill for the PGA Championship in the midst of his worst season on Tour having only made four cuts in 18 starts. He hadn’t sniffed anything close to a top-20 finish.

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His back continued to give him fits, the result of years of wear and tear from the torque of his golf swing. Accordingly, Duval had developed poor swing habits trying to compensate and that was the beginning of his downward spiral.

It’s not overstating it to say that Duval played well to shoot 80 in the first round on a day when a massive widespread power outage affected 45 million people in eight states and 10 million more in Canada.

A man who once played lights-out to shoot 59, was now shooting 80 in a town without lights. Go figure.

Day 2 produced more gore than most horror flicks. Duval hit his opening tee shot 50 yards left. The collective “oohs” and “awws” from the Rochester, N.Y., gallery were both loud and sad. It was difficult to watch.

After another atrocious tee shot on the fifth hole, Duval had enough and withdrew, citing a lower back injury that appeared fine 24 hours earlier. He was 6 over after four holes with a bogey, double bogey and a triple bogey. In 22 holes he had made four doubles and a triple.

For the year, his scoring average was a skosh under 74, a far cry from the 69.1 average he collected in 1999.

I was there to witness Duval’s lowest of the low, and it was as memorable as it was horrific. It did, however, make it even more impossible to imagine what it took for Double D to shoot golf’s magic number.

At the time in 1999, scribes were writing that Duval’s 59 would get better with age, especially if he began to collect majors at what insiders believed would be a rapid pace. Well, it got better with age. Not because he got better, only, sadly, because he got much worse.

David Duval

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee: