Duval and Atlanta
Having waited for the rival to Tiger to emerge, fans in the aftermath of the Open Championship may have wanted to hear some fiery oration from Duval to stir our inner Lombardi about a desire to be No. 1.
Its not a concern, he said plainly. Ive always said that as long as I do the best that I can do, then thats OK. Number 1 comes with great play and Ive been there. But its not some place Im trying to get to.
Focused on the process and not the destination. Adherent to a plan for long-term golfing success that was in evidence even when Duval was a freshman at Georgia Tech.
He had the mind of a 25-year-old when he first came, remembers his college coach, Puggy Blackmon. He was so far advanced mentally.
Emotionally, though, David took time to shake the residue from his parents painful divorce, a result, in part, of the death of Davids older brother. When David was nine, he was the bone marrow donor for his 12-year-old brother Brent, who would eventually lose his battle with aplastic anemia. At Tech, he was not one of the guys. Golf was the perfect solitary exercise.
Some eight years after Georgia Tech, Duval is seemingly more at peace than ever. Does he thirst for a victory at the PGA Championship any more intensely because it was once his collegiate home? Here again, Duval is typically candid rather than predictably hyped, politely dismissing the more romantic theme that has the conquering hero returning to Atlanta.
Id like to say yes, he said when asked if it meant more. But the answer is no. I couldnt want it any more just because its in Atlanta. Its the PGA and I want to win it no matter where its played.
As a collegian, Duval offered a harbinger of what would come years later. He lead the 1992 BellSouth Classic by two strokes after 54 holes before closing in 79 to finish 13th. Seven years later, Duval won that tournament, the last victory in an astonishing 11-win romp over a less than two-year period which carried Duval to No. 1 in the world.
Because Duval experienced a torrent of success in such a compressed period, people may have assumed it had always come easily. But in reality hes been more of a steady ladder climber, a grinder unlike more recent, blast-onto-the-scene types like Tiger, David Gossett and Charles Howell, all of whom left school early and successfully. Davids put in his time. After four years at Tech, he endured 31 events on the Buy.Com Tour, then seven second-place finishes on the PGA Tour before he shifted to Formula One mode, and then 26 major championship appearances where he pushed but couldnt prevail.
Until Lytham. The breakthrough held great meaning for those in Duvals inner circle.
For me, the best way I can relate it, mused Blackmon, still his coach today, is that it was like waiting for the birth of your first child. Youve got so much anticipation and you want it to go smoothly and when it finally happens, its such a relief. Davids worked so hard.
If they ever made a movie about Duval, Sean Penn would be a good choice to play the lead. Beyond the facial similarity, neithers easy to read, with an edgy quality which keeps you slightly off balance and with a hint, not necessarily by design, of unapproachable aloofness. Duval unwittingly oozes movie star mystery. Of course, under the scrutiny which accompanies modern athletic fame, a person might naturally put up a wall.
Tigers wall, it could be argued, is Jordanesque friendly, painted with his smiling face that skillfully sells cars and credit cards to all of America.
Duval is not nearly as orchestrated.
I like Davids approach, offers Billy Andrade. Hes going to tell you honestly what he thinks. And if you dont like him, he doesnt really care.
If speaking honestly qualifies as somehow hard to get a handle on, Duvals quite comfortable with who he is. And there really is no great mystery. Raised in Jacksonville, he likes to fish. He likes to snowboard. Hes reputedly well-read, having consumed 31 books in his rookie season alone. A Golf World article four years ago reported his favorite novel as Ayn Rands The Fountainhead, the story of an unconventional young architect. David Duval also possesses an immense talent for hitting golf shots like few people in the world.
And if people were thirsting for some humanity from Duval, he gave it to them in a warm display at Lytham after he had shot 65-67 on the weekend and after television had signed off.
If people were hungry for validation of what they believed his talent to be, he gave that to them as well.
But he did it simply because thats who HE is, not because thats who WE want him to be.
David Duval turns 30 this November. Hell marry before years end. His plan, rooted in the process hes now proven will work, is fully realizing itself. Along the way, hes discovered in dealing with the loss of a brother that lifes not always fair.
Hes discovered that this game is not a matter of life or death. I think I realized, he told the press after his British Open victory, that this is just a silly old game.
Hes discovered that if No. 1's not a place he yearns to be, Tiger is a player he CAN beat.
I think hes proven day in and day out hes the best player, Duval said. But then, without hesitating, he added, But I can beat Tiger.
Ultimately, Duvals now discovered his place in the sport. And he seems to really appreciate where that is.
I dont know where Ill go down in history, he said. But I know Im part of the history now. My names on that Claret Jug and thats something that wont change.
If Duval should win in Atlanta this week - and theres no reason he shouldnt contend on a golf course well-suited to the big hitters - then the game is really on. Duval will have won two straight majors, and Tiger will finally have somebody he can see in his rearview mirror.
Lesson with Woods fetches $210K for Harvey relief
A charity event featuring more than two dozen pro golfers raised more than $1 million for Hurricane Harvey relief, thanks in large part to a hefty price paid for a private lesson with Tiger Woods.
The pro-am fundraiser was organized by Chris Stroud, winner of the Barracuda Championship this summer, and fellow pro and Houston resident Bobby Gates. It was held at Bluejack National in Montgomery, Texas, about an hour outside Houston and the first Woods-designed course to open in the U.S.
The big-ticket item on the auction block was a private, two-person lesson with Woods at Bluejack National that sold for a whopping $210,000.
Other participants included local residents like Stacy Lewis, Patrick Reed and Steve Elkington as well as local celebrities like NBA All-Star Clyde Drexler, Houston Texans quarterback T.J. Yates and Houston Astros owner Jim Crane.
Stroud was vocal in his efforts to help Houston rebuild in the immediate aftermath of the storm that ravaged the city in August, and he told the Houston Chronicle that he plans to continue fundraising efforts even after eclipsing the event's $1 million goal.
"This is the best event I have ever been a part of, and this is just a start," Stroud said. "We have a long way to go for recovery to this city, and we want to keep going with this and raise as much as we can and help as many victims as we can."
LPGA schedule features 34 events, record purse
The LPGA schedule will once again feature 34 events next year with a record $68.75 million in total purses, the tour announced on Wednesday.
While three events are gone from the 2018 schedule, three new events have been added, with two of those on the West Coast and one in mainland China.
The season will again start with the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic on Paradise Island (Jan. 25-28) and end with the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla., (Nov. 15-18).
The LPGA played for $65 million in total prize money in 2017.
An expanded West Coast swing in the front half of the schedule will now include the HUGEL-JTBC Championship in the Los Angeles area April 19-22. The site will be announced at a later date.
The tour will then make a return to San Francisco’s Lake Merced Golf Club the following week, in a new event sponsored by L&P Cosmetics, a Korean skincare company. Both new West Coast tournaments will be full-field events.
The tour’s third new event will be played in Shanghai Oct. 18-21 as part of the fall Asian swing. The title sponsor and golf course will be announced at a later date.
“Perhaps the most important aspect of our schedule is the consistency — continuing to deliver strong playing opportunities both in North America and around the world, while growing overall purse levels every year,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement. “There is simply no better [women’s] tour opportunity in the world, when it comes to purses, global TV coverage or strength of field. It’s an exciting time in women’s golf, with the best players from every corner of the globe competing against each other in virtually every event.”
While the Evian Championship will again be played in September next year, the tour confirmed its plans to move its fifth major to the summer in 2019, to be part of a European swing, with the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open and the Ricoh Women’s British Open.
The Manulife LPGA Classic and the Lorena Ochoa Invitational are not returning to the schedule next year. Also, the McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open will not be played next year as it prepares to move to the front of the 2019 schedule, to be paired with the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.
The U.S. Women’s Open will make its new place earlier in the summer, a permanent move in the tour’s scheduling. It will be played May 31-June 3 at Shoal Creek Golf Club outside Birmingham, Ala. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (June 28-July 1) will be played at Kemper Lakes Golf Club on the north side of Chicago and the Ricoh Women’s British Open (Aug. 2-5) will be played at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England.
For the first time since its inception in 2014, the UL International Crown team event is going overseas, with the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, scheduled to host the event Oct. 4-7. The KEB Hana Bank Championship will be played in South Korean the following week.
Here is the LPGA's schedule for 2018:
Jan. 25-28: Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic; Paradise Island, Bahamas; Purse: $1.4 million
Feb. 15-18: ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open; Adelaide, Australia; Purse: $1.3 million
Feb. 21-24: Honda LPGA Thailand; Chonburi, Thailand; Purse: $1.6 million
March 1-4: HSBC Women's World Championship; Singapore; Purse: $1.5 million
March 15-18: Bank of Hope Founders Cup; Phoenix, Arizona; Purse: $1.5 million
March 22-25: Kia Classic; Carlsbad, California; Purse: $1.8 million
March 29 - April 1: ANA Inspiration; Rancho Mirage, California; Purse: $2.8 million
April 11-14: LOTTE Championship; Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii; Purse: $2 million
April 19-22: HUGEL-JTBC Championship; Greater Los Angeles, California; Purse: $1.5 million
April 26-29: Name to be Announced; San Francisco, California; Purse: $1.5 million
May 3-6: Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic; The Colony, Texas; Purse: $1.3 million
May 17-20: Kingsmill Championship; Williamsburg, Virginia; Purse: $1.3 million
May 24-27: LPGA Volvik Championship; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Purse: $1.3 million
May 31 - June 3: U.S. Women's Open Championship; Shoal Creek, Alabama; Purse: $5 million
June 8-10: ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer; Galloway, New Jersey; Purse: $1.75 million
June 14-17: Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Purse: $2 million
June 22-24: Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G; Rogers, Arkansas; Purse: $2 million
June 28 - July 1: KPMG Women's PGA Championship; Kildeer, Illinois; Purse: $3.65 million
July 5-8: Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic; Oneida, Wisconsin; Purse: $2 million
July 12-15: Marathon Classic presented by Owens-Corning and O-I; Sylvania, Ohio; Purse: $1.6 million
July 26-29: Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open; East Lothian, Scotland; Purse: $1.5 million
Aug. 2-5: Ricoh Women's British Open; Lancashire, England; Purse: $3.25 million
Aug. 16-19: Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim; Indianapolis, Indiana; Purse: $2 million
Aug. 23-26: CP Women's Open; Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada; Purse: $2.25 million
Aug. 30 - Sept. 2: Cambia Portland Classic; Portland, Oregon; Purse: $1.3 million
Sept. 13-16: The Evian Championship; Evian-les-Bains, France; Purse: $3.85 million
Sept. 27-30: Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Purse: $1.8 million
Oct. 4-7: UL International Crown; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $1.6 million
Oct. 11-14: LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $2 million
Oct. 18-21: Name to be Announced; Shanghai, China; Purse: $2.1 million
Oct. 25-28: Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship; New Taipei City, Chinese Taipei; Purse: $2.2 million
Nov. 2-4: TOTO Japan Classic; Shiga, Japan; Purse: $1.5 million
Nov. 7-10: Blue Bay LPGA; Hainan Island, China; Purse: $2.1 million
Nov. 15-18: CME Group Tour Championship; Naples, Florida; Purse: $2.5 million
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 4, Jordan Spieth
Dismissed because he’s supposedly too short off the tee, or not accurate enough with his irons, or just a streaky putter, Jordan Spieth is almost never the answer to the question of which top player, when he’s at his best, would win in a head-to-head match.
And yet here he is, at the age of 24, with 11 career wins and three majors, on a pace that compares favorably with the giants of the game. He might not possess the firepower of Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, but since he burst onto the PGA Tour in 2013 he has all that matters – a better résumé.
Spieth took the next step in his development this year by becoming the Tour’s best iron player – and its most mentally tough.
Just a great putter? Oh, puhleeze: He won three times despite putting statistics (42nd) that were his worst since his rookie year. Instead, he led the Tour in strokes gained-approach the green and this summer showed the discipline, golf IQ and bounce-back ability that makes him such a unique talent.
Even with his putter misbehaving, Spieth closed out the Travelers Championship by holing a bunker shot in the playoff, then, in perhaps an even bigger surprise, perfectly executed the player-caddie celebration, chest-bumping caddie Michael Greller. A few weeks later, sublime iron play carried him into the lead at Royal Birkdale, his first in a major since his epic collapse at the 2016 Masters.
Once again his trusty putter betrayed him, and by the time he arrived on the 13th tee, he was tied with Matt Kuchar. What happened next was the stuff of legend – a lengthy ruling, gutsy up-and-down, stuffed tee shot and go-get-that putt – that lifted Spieth to his third major title.
Though he couldn’t complete the career Grand Slam at the PGA, he’ll likely have, oh, another two decades to join golf’s most exclusive club.
In the barroom debate of best vs. best, you can take the guys with the flair, with the booming tee shots and the sky-high irons. Spieth will just take the trophies.
Masters Tournament: Return to the 12th; faltering on Sunday (T-11)
U.S. Open: 1 over usually good ... not at Erin Hills (T-35)
The Open: Unforgettable finish leads to major win No. 3 (1st)
PGA Championship: Career Grand Slam bid comes up well short (T-28)
TWO REGULAR TOUR WINS
AT&T Pebble Beach
FUN OUTSIDE OF TOUR LIFE
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18