Dont Quit on Duval


The darker side of the Ben Curtis story this year is the David Duval story.
Just dont quit on David Duval. He isnt quitting on himself. He has fallen. And he is determined to get up.
The opinion here is that he will be back.
Tuesday Duval told The Golf Channels Kraig Kann he is recruiting help outside of golf. On Monday, sources close to Duval told me, Duval recently said, I will hang in there until I beat this.
Curtis came out of nowhere (unless you were paying attention to amateur golf in the late '90s) and won the Open Championship at Royal St. Georges.
Duval, winner of the same championship just two short years ago, continues to sink like a stone in the world rankings while missing cuts with numbing regularity.
The Duval decline has been steep and it has gone from bad to worse. At Royal St. Georges he shot 83-78 and missed the cut by kilometers. He returned to the States, soared to an 83 in the first round at the Greater Hartford Open and promptly withdrew.
Earlier this year he missed seven straight cuts. He ranks 195th in driving accuracy on the PGA Tour. His world ranking, No. 1 as recently as 1999, is now 119, one spot ahead of somebody named Zhang Lian-Wei.
This is beyond frustration, a source close to Duval said Monday.
Sports Illustrated proclaimed Duval to be in a slump of Baker-Finchian proportions. One news outlet insisted Duvals W/D at Hartford had to do with the fear of being beaten by Suzy Whaley. Duval and his people bristled.
Duvals people say his physical problems'bad back, vertigo'are behind him and they say the reasons he cant find the world with his driver are between his ears. And, they say, Duval is aware of this.
Which is a first step. In the past Duval was a stoic. It was his natural way. But when things went bad with his swing he needed to learn to open himself up to those who might help him. The indications now are that he is doing that.
Its interesting to note that the five players with the worst driving accuracy numbers on the tours weekly list are: No. 192 Hank Kuehne; No. 193 Phil Mickelson; No. 194 John Daly; No. 195 Duval and No. 196 Steve Stricker.
The cynics will say thats a list full of head cases. The optimists will say thats a list loaded with monstrous talent. Daly and Duval have won major championships. Mickelson and Kuehne have won U.S. Amateurs. Stricker finished second at the PGA Championship in 1998 to Vijay Singh.
Meanwhile, the plan at the moment is for Duval to continue to try and play his way out of this mess. He remains in contact with teacher David Leadbetter but doesnt see him on a regular basis. He is scheduled to tee it up next week at The International and the week after that at Oak Hill in Rochester, N.Y. for the PGA Championship.
But that is highly subject to change, said a source.
Yes, Duval has an unusual grip and swing action. And, yes, players with idiosyncratic fundamentals often have more trouble righting their ships when their swings founder.
Im betting on Duval.
Earlier this year Tiger Woods teased the media, saying if he was in such a bad slump maybe he should be a candidate for Comeback Player of the Year.
My early line favorite for Comeback Player of the Year in 2004 is David Duval.
Related Links:
  • Bio - David Duval
  • More Inside the Ropes by Brian Hewitt
  • More on David Duval