A Holiday Wish for Duval
Heres hoping that David Duval gobbles up a win this week at the Dunlop Phoenix and spends Thanksgiving thinking about how he just beat Tiger Woods.
Before you jump to conclusions that I root against Woods, Ill tell you that is hardly the case. Woods is the best ' period. Woods is the best when he has his best and Woods is the best when he seemingly plays his worst. Nobody gets more out of a C game than Tiger. Nobody ever will.
But this is about David Duval finding something other than his F game.
David Duval managed an opening round of 6-under 64 to lead Tiger Woods. Thats right. lead Tiger Woods. And the last time that happened was somewhere around 1998 when Duval lead Woods in the World Golf Ranking.
'I played well,' said Duval. 'I've been playing well for about a month now but just haven't been scoring well. I'm well aware of how I've played over the past few years but I've worked hard and it's good to start a tournament not behind the 8-ball.'
8-ball? If golf were like billiards, Duval would be feeling like every shot he cued up was bound to end with a scratch.
For many fans that have e-mailed and written, Duval has become a sympathetic figure. Others of you ' I know - feel hes been more of a pathetic figure. The media goes both ways, too.
But Im one of the first in line to say that I wish him back to good and hopefully great golf once again.
Viewed by some as a player who lived behind the sunglasses to avoid the popularity that came with a run of 13 PGA Tour wins in a short span, Duval to me was a player who kept you interested.
To me, he was Vijay Singh before Vijay Singh became the superstar he is today. Duval was, in fact, the man who challenged Tiger. He was the man who was supposed to be his rival for years and years and years. Who didnt want that?
And whether you think hes off his rocker more than hes off his game, Duval is a man who clearly has the respect and friendly support from Woods.
It's been tough to watch,' said Woods. 'David is a friend of mine, we played in two World Cups together and he has really struggled. But it looks like he's showing signs of getting his game back together.'
Tigers got class. He knows what Duval has been through. And theres a lot of respect for how hes handled the years in golfs dungeon. Because Duval, unlike some whove clearly lost it, hasnt lost his ability to talk about life when life isnt so great ' professionally speaking that is.
If you follow The Golf Channel and the Sprint Post Game with regularity, you know that Duval agreed (without much hesitation) to join us a few years back at Oak Hill during the PGA Championship (won by Shawn Micheel) for an entire show. On our set, he fielded every possible question for the better part of an hour and a half. How many would have? Im still amazed.
If that wasnt enough, hes joined us on a few occasions since. While his golf success hasnt improved much since, hes never looked the other way when Ive stopped him to talk. Friendly as they come, as far as I see it.
So I hardly wish Woods the worst. But he and his friend Duval are in such different worlds these days that I cant help but root for the story ' which is Duval. A win for the 34 year old would probably feel like a second major championship given that Tigers in the field.
To do that, Duval will have to do something he hasnt done in years, which is to play like a major winner.
'My golf swing is good,' said Duval. 'Most of my problems were because of injuries that forced me to swing the club differently than I wanted to. Today was one of those days when I got the most out of the round I could.'
I cant guarantee that hell keep it up. But if he does pull it off, itll be a holiday gift of the biggest variety. A shocker to be certain.
And I actually think it might be pretty great for golf as well.
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.
After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.
It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.
Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.
Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.
Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder
Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.
Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.
“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”
The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.
“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”
Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.
Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder
LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.
Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.
''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''
It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.
''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''
Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.
''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''
After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.
''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''
He's making his first start in the event.
''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.
Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.
''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''
Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.
''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.
The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.
''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''
Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.
''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.
Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.
Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.
Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.
John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.
Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years
Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.
He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.
How rare is his missing the cut there?
The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.
The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.
The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.
Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.
Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.