'New David' loving life; looks like old Duval in 67

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2015, 1:11 pm

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – It was not the start David Duval was looking for when he set out for his Scottish fortnight.

From the first tee at Gullane Golf Club, the former world No. 1 launched his opening effort 10 yards right of the fairway. After a few moments of searching, he returned to the tee and sent his next shot left of the fairway.

Strike two.

“There were 10 guys waiting on the tee [to tee off behind him]. I felt terrible for him,” said caddie Ron “Bambi” Levin. “But he turned to me and said, ‘Let’s shoot under par.’”

Duval would make a quadruple bogey-8 at the first, and another 8 at the last for a first-round 77 en route to missing the cut and finishing 153rd out of 156 players at the Scottish Open.

That kind of performance would have sent the old Double D, the one who won a major and 13 PGA Tour titles and ascended to the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking, into a myopic fit.

But the 43-year-old version takes a much more measured approach to golf, if not a life fully lived.

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“I just figured, let’s just go and get it back,” he shrugged on Sunday at St. Andrews.

Time and terrible play will do that to anyone, but when it comes to Duval the transformation from icy assassin to endearing figure is more nuanced than that.

This is, after all, the man who reached the top of the mountain and was underwhelmed. After winning the Open Championship in 2001 at Royal Lytham, his last Tour victory, he began a slow competitive spiral.

Since 2003 Duval, who now spends more time working as a Golf Channel analyst than he does playing tournaments, finished inside the top 200 in earnings just three times, and with dwindling Tour status he now plays an increasingly limited schedule with just four starts this season.

But with that competitive exile has come balance off the course, first when he married his wife, Susie, and now as a father of five.

All along he’s wanted to play well, wanted to feel the pressure of a major championship Sunday, but while the mind has been willing the body has failed him. At least until Sunday at St. Andrews, where he played his first 14 holes in 6 under par for a 5-under 67, his lowest round at the Open since that 2001 victory.

It was a wave of momentum he picked up on Saturday after he had three-putted the 17th hole to drop outside the cut, but he nearly drove the green at No. 18 for a birdie to make the cut at the Open for the first time since 2008.

“Ron [Levin] asked me, ‘You want to hit a 3-wood? Think you can get a 3-wood there?’” Duval said of his tee shot at the 18th hole. “I said, ‘I don’t know, but I know I can get a driver there.’

“I’m going to hit it right of that flag and if I hit in those houses over there, [double bogey] doesn’t hurt me. I have to make a [birdie]. It was nice to do.”

For a moment it was at least a shadow of the Old David, calculated, fearless, focused; shades of the guy who once shot 59 at the Humana Challenge and 65 on Saturday at Lytham to win a claret jug. But then the New David resurfaces with a nostalgic twist to his Scottish sojourn.

“Links golf is my favorite thing to do, just puts a smile on my face when I'm out there playing. The challenges of it I find intriguing, frustrating, uplifting, all these things, and so to get to do it for two straight weeks, it's a blessing as a golfer, regardless of who you are,” Duval said. “I've been on St. Andrews since last Saturday every day playing golf. Who gets to say that, really? It's pretty cool.”

What Duval has lost in competitive purpose he’s made up for with a healthy dose of personal perspective as evidenced by his response when asked if he would play next week’s RBC Canadian Open if he were able to finish inside the top 10 at St. Andrews (he’s currently tied for 24th).

He explains that he already has a trip planned to vacation in Italy with his wife after the Open.

“Glenn Abbey [the site of the Canadian Open] or Florence with my wife? Pretty easy decision,” he smiled.

It’s also a pretty good indication of how priorities have made the New David so much more endearing.

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


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The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.