Duval Can Teach Us Some Things
Last Saturday, David Duval determined on a cart path, of all places, at Cherry Hills Country Club in Englewood, Col., that he finally felt a mile high about the thought of playing major tournament golf once again.
'If this week was Memphis, Id probably be in Memphis,' Duval said in a very emotional Wednesday news conference. 'It has to do with the U.S. Open and some of it has to do with I finally wanted to go. Thats it.'
And so, Duval is here at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. And on Thursday he put press conference thoughts behind him and the fairways of competitive golf in front of him. In his first competitive round since he withdrew from the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan late last fall, David let it rip off the first tee and finished his first hole back with a birdie.
Eighty strokes later, Duval signed for a first-round 83 that included three double bogeys. And it was about two hours later that it all sunk in for me.
David had politely agreed to join us for a segment on the Sprint Post Game. And I asked him about whether or not he felt a desire to try and climb the mountain once again and return to the level that vaulted him to the top of golfs world.
His answer was pretty telling. He said hed 'let us know.' In other words: TBD, if you know what I mean.
And with that, here are my thoughts on Duval:
First of all, he has more sincere and genuine respect for people than most any tour player youd come across. Better still, Id bet that hed treat any of you the same way in a friendly foursome. Hes always been honest to me. And Im guessing he speaks his mind to most everyone he comes in contact with.
Yet, David Duval has been beaten up in so many articles it's ridiculous. Hes been 'figured out' by more people during his time on tour than you can imagine. And finally, hed had enough. He was tired of the grind, both on the course and off it. He was tired of the bad press, and even the good press.
'Ive always been curious as to why some people think that the words they write are how another man should live,' Duval said on Wednesday. 'It makes no sense.'
Wow! Isnt that what we should aim to do? Should a mans worth to others go up because hes worth a few more million than the rest of us? If someone says theyve had enough, cant we take them at their word?
Suddenly, David Duval didnt care any more about making millions, or winning golf tournaments, or signing big endorsements. He didnt care if you cared, or if your friends cared either. Duval had figured out that there is more to life than a job. There is more to life than accumulated wealth. And theres certainly more to life than pleasing others.
David Duval realized that he needed to please himself.
And now that hes back, having found the light, so to speak, the people are warming up to him like never before. And it makes me wonder: cmon people, what took so long?
'Ive gotten applauded for being the way I am, for being honest, and Ive gotten beat up for it too,' David said. 'And what it says to me is my decision to speak honestly the whole time, to give opinions, was the right decision.'
'People can decipher the words and figure out that a man should speak from his heart and give an opinion of what he thinks,' Duval continued. 'I think thats where that outpouring has come from, that they just respect me for what Ive said or done or been. And thats it.'
Unfortunately, society doesnt, often enough, allow us to speak from our hearts. At times, these days we even have trouble thinking from our hearts. At least I do.
This week, David Duval has taught us to find something in our hearts other than a job or a paycheck or a world ranking. I think hes reminded us to re-prioritize.
After we finished taping our segment with David for Thursday nights show, Brian Hewitt and I asked him about his schedule from here. He said hed certainly play the Open Championship at Troon, Scotland. Perhaps hed even play an event before then, and he certainly expects to play his new hometown event on the PGA Tour ' the International outside Denver.
Other than that ' no guarantees. Not to me, not to you, or anyone else. He talked about living for the moment, which is good advice to all of us.
'My expectations this week are to have fun, to enjoy the atmosphere, and thats about it,' Duval preached. 'I just came to have fun.'
Shouldnt we all? Good for you, David Duval. Good for you.
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
Rahm (62) shoots career low round at CareerBuilder
After a banner year in 2017, Jon Rahm found a way to add yet another accolade to his growing list of accomplishments during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge.
Rahm got off to a fast start at La Quinta Country Club, playing his first seven holes in 6 under en route to a 10-under 62. The score marked his career low on the PGA Tour by two shots and gave him an early lead in an event that utilizes a three-course rotation.
La Quinta was the site of Adam Hadwin's 59 during last year's event, and Rahm knew full well that a quick start opened the door to a memorably low score.
"Any time you have that going for you, you get thoughts come in your head, 60, maybe 59," Rahm told reporters. "I knew that if I kept playing good I was going to have more birdie opportunities, and I tried not to get ahead of myself and I was able to do it."
Rahm birdied his first two holes before an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole sparked him to an outward 30. He added four more birdies on the inward half without dropping a shot.
The Spaniard is the highest-ranked player in the field this week, and while many players opted for a two-week stint in Hawaii he instead came home for some practice after opening the new year with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. That decision appears to have paid some early dividends as Rahm gets set to defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.
Low scores were plentiful on all three courses during the opening round, and Rahm remained pleased with his effort even though he fell short of matching Hadwin's sub-60 score from a year ago.
"That's golf. You're not going to make every single putt, you're not going to hit every shot perfect," he said. "Overall, you've got to look at the bigger picture. I birdied the last hole, had a couple of great sand saves coming in, shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for."
Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead
New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.
The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.
"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."
Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.
It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.
Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.
Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore
SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.
Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.
He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.
Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.
Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.
The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.
''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''
Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.
He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.
Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.
Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.
''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''
13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest
Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.
Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.
“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”
Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.
Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings.