Pieces of the Puzzle Coming Together

By Mercer BaggsFebruary 21, 2003, 5:00 pm
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- He cant find a fairway, and hes missed half of his greens. Yet theres that look in David Duvals eyes and sincerity in his smile.
 
Despite two erratic rounds at Riviera Country Club, Duval is in solid standing in the Nissan Open.
 
Hes 3-under-par; five shots back of midway leader Charles Howell III.
 
Duval has chipped in three times in two days, has made a couple of putts in excess of 40 feet, and generally grinded his way into contention.
 
Just silly things that just hold a round together and turn what could have been a poor day into a very acceptable day, he said of his stroke-saving shots.
 
But theres more to it than that, more than just good fortune.
 
It probably goes back to attitude, he said. You are kind of a little more patient, a little more into what you're doing. And that is probably what has been the difference for me these two days as opposed to the first couple of events I have played in.
 
Duval has certainly had reason over the past year and a half to lose his patience.
 
He is winless since his first major triumph in the 2001 British Open. Last year, he missed eight cuts ' as many as the previous four years combined, had only two top-10s and finished 80th on the money list ' his first time ever outside the top 11 since joining the PGA Tour in 1995.
 
Add that to a injury, a highly publicized legal battle with Titleist and an even more impersonal intrusion into his breakup with his long-time finance, and 2002 was a year best forgotten.
 
Duval won 13 times in 34 starts in the late 1990s. He was the last man to hold the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking before Woods took the reigns. Hes now ranked 29th in the world.
 
Hes not only been bypassed by the likes of Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh when it comes to Tigers chief rivals, hes no longer mentioned in the same breath.
 
But that doesnt seem to bother Duval.
 
I have played the game well for quite some time; I enjoy watching the game played well too, he said. I give my respect to those players who are playing like that. And it is enjoyable to watch somebody execute the game so well, whether it be Tiger or how Ernie has started the year.
 
I am comfortable with where I am and what I have done so far. I am pretty young still. And I just dont have that envy that I think is prevalent out here on tour.
 
But dont confuse Duvals contentment with complacency.
 
He says the fire still burns behind those wraparound sunglasses. If there is any change, its in his focus. For years, Duval said he was wrapped up in winning a major championship. I bought into the whole thing, he commented.
 
In turn, he lost sight on the importance of the other 22 or so events in which he competed each year.
 
I was lucky enough to win one of the major championships. But I stopped winning the other tournaments. And that is not fun when you are out here to win and compete. You got to really be focused on where you are, where you are playing.
 
Duval is playing in his third event of the season this week. He missed the cut at the Bob Hope and Pebble Beach, and has spent as much time on the ski slopes as on the golf course.
 
He was in contention in last years Nissan Open, but suffered a bout of food poisoning Saturday night that cost him 16 pounds and forced him to withdraw on the fourth hole Sunday.
 
I had a chance to win the golf tournament, so it was disappointing because I sure love playing the golf course here, he said.
 
He may have a chance to atone this year. Despite hitting 53 percent of his greens in regulation and only 39 percent of his fairways, he has scrambled well enough to better his two-day playing companion, Woods, by a shot.
 
Ironically, I havent hit the golf ball quite as well as I did my two tournaments where I missed the cuts. However, I got back to the essence of the game and scored well, he said.
 
So I am really excited about that. I feel like if I can get a little bit sharper, then I will be fine.
 
The pieces are there, Duval says, he just has to put together the puzzle.
 
Related Links
  • Full-field scores from the Nissan Open
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    Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

    By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

    One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

    Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

    "I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

    Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

    "I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

    Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

    "Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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    Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

    Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

    Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

    “I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

    The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

    “I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

    This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

    The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

    Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

    The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

    And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

    The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


    Masters victory


    Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

    Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

    Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


    Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


    Green jacket tour

    Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

    Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

    Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


    Man of the people


    Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

    Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

    Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


    Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


    Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


    Growing family

    Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

    Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


    Departure from TaylorMade


    Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


    Squashed beef with Paddy

    Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

    Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


    Victory at Valderrama


    Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm