Time is Not on Duvals Side

By Mercer BaggsJanuary 16, 2007, 5:00 pm
Its been six seasons since hes had a win. Five since he even had a top-10 or finished inside the top 125 on the money list.

And yet he still intrigues. Guess we are just fascinated by what we cant explain.

David Duval has had to do a lot of explaining over the last half-decade. Thats what happens when you go from the No. 1 player in the world to the No. 1 oddity in the game, when people start looking at you with bewilderment instead of reverence.

David Duval
David Duval last finished inside the top 125 on the money list in 2002.
He blamed it on injury, blamed it on apathy. Hurt his back and developed some bad swing habits. Won a major and wondered: Is that all there is?

Duvals freefall is well-chronicled. Youd be hard-pressed to find a fan who didnt know his story ' if not the specific details, at least the generalities.

The story has evolved a bit over the last couple of years. Hes gotten married; adopted her kids ' had one of their own; moved to Colorado. Hes better-rounded, he says.

He looks it, too. His once chiseled physique now has the definition of a jar of jelly.

And thats just the way he wants it. Hes says hes happy now, and you have to believe him (hes never been one to put up a false front).

He also says that hes playing better. That hes close to being a contender once again. And there, too, you have to take him for his word, because its not always easy to see.

There are signs, however; bits of evidence that he is indeed improving. Last year, he finished 172nd in earnings. Certainly nothing special for a man who has 13 career PGA TOUR wins and a claret jug.

But that was nearly 100 spots better than his position the year prior. And his 11 cuts made (in 24 starts) were more than his combined total over the previous three seasons. He only made one cut in 20 starts in '05.

His best finish of 06 came, of all places, at the U.S. Open. He tied for 16th at Winged Foot, even made some noise on Friday when he shot a tournament best 68.

Following that round Duval was asked what he always gets asked after posting a good number: Are you back? Is your game finally coming around?

And he answered as he has answered many times before:

I've been saying that for I don't know how long and nobody wants to seem to listen ' I'm playing well. I'll say it again: I'm playing very well.

At the British Open, five years after having won it at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, Duval posted a couple of modest 2-under 70s over the first two days.

And, of course, someone just had to ask: Do you feel the pieces of the jigsaw are coming together?

And, of course, Duval just had to reply: As I've said for many months, I'm playing well. I really don't know how else to answer that question.

Duval realizes that the question will persist until he develops some sort of consistency. He also admits: It will be nice when that's over. It will mean that I'm playing as I expected.

He might want to get on that in a hurry.

Duval was granted a five-year TOUR exemption for winning the 2001 Open Championship. That was 1-2-3-4-5-6 years ago.

Hes competing this year by using a one-time exemption for being inside the top 25 on the TOURs career money list. He can play next year, if need be, by using a one-time exemption for being inside the top 50 on that list.

And then then he has to make it on his own merit ' based on recent accomplishments, not from what he achieved in the past.

His quest begins this week at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, the tournament where he shot a closing 59 to cement his status as the best player in the world ' even before he officially became No. 1.

That came in 1999. He finished 26 under that week. In 2005, he finished 30 over ' without playing in the fifth and final round.

But last year he made the cut to play the final day. He finished at 9 under, despite shooting 78 along the way.

Its that one day that really seems to be holding him back at the moment. Fourteen times in 23 stroke-play events last year, he had at least one round of 75 or higher.

It's also those singular rounds that make others believe, as he does, that a revival is possible: the 63 Sunday of last year's Sony; the 64 in round 4 at the Hope; the 68 at Winged Foot.

They're just too few and far between.

The game still seems a bit puzzling to Duval, which is quite appropriate considering he is one of golfs greatest mysteries.

When it comes to David Duval, one really has no idea what to expect. Hes one big, well-rounded, seemingly content question mark.

Hed prefer nothing more than to have his game provide positive answers to all those questions. But who knows if that is possible.

The one thing thats most certain in all of this: tracking back up a hill is much more arduous than sledding down it.

If, however, his game doesnt tell you what you want to know, feel free to ask him how things are coming along. He just loves that.

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  • Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

    By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

    Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

    Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

    Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

    Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

    It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

    The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

    Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

    By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

    Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

    ''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

    They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

    ''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

    Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

    ''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

    Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

    Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

    Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

    Getty Images

    Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

    Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

    Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

    Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

    Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

    The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

    Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

    By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

    JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

    Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

    Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.