2001 US Open - David Duval News Conference Transcript


DAVID DUVAL: Well, I'm not real concerned with the Top-10 any longer; I seem to have done that. So I think for me, I hadn't really thought about it, but I saw it on TV. But in the past Opens, I've had a round that kind of got away from me, shot 4- , 5-, 6-over par one day, and that's really kind of hurt my chances of winning a golf tournament. Because of those high finishes, I think I understand a little bit what the pressure is about, what it's like to be there on the weekend and be high on the leaderboard. And I think for me, I just need to kind of eliminate a couple of mistakes I've made in the past, and I can be right there.
Q. David, I know you were concerned about the greens yesterday on 9 and 18 --?
DAVID DUVAL: Can you speak up a little bit?
Q. I know you were concerned about the green speed on 18. Wondering if you could talk a little bit about that?
DAVID DUVAL: Yeah, I'd like to know where all that came from. I heard that I was irate about it or something. And we teed off at 9:30 yesterday and played a round, and No. 9 was perfectly fine. And we got to 18 and Chris Perry hit a nice shot up there with a 4-iron, and as we were walking up, all of a sudden, it was well off the green. We got up there and dropped a few balls and watched them roll off, and we were laughing about it. I wasn't -- I guess I'm like any player, I was concerned about what it was going to be like, because at that point it was a little bit unplayable. Seeing it was Monday, I wasn't upset or concerned about it. If it was Wednesday afternoon and that was happening, you're out of time now. But I've always enjoyed how the USGA sets up golf courses. And I don't think there's some big conspiracy talked about, where they try to make this unplayable. I think they try to make it very, very hard, but very fair. So that's not going to be an issue this week. I don't think it will be.
Q. David, to the Europeans coming here, the heat seems overwhelming almost. I know you chaps are more used to it. From your perspective, is it likely to be a serious specter in terms of maintaining concentration and focus this week?
DAVID DUVAL: Well, for me, no, I don't think so. I imagine it's supposed to be kind of like it has been yesterday, today, tomorrow, and I have -- maybe that's some of the benefits of growing up in Florida, in the States, and getting used to it. I saw the guy play at the English Open with sweaters. That's going to be a drastic change from sweaters to this. But apparently I'm in the minority right now, but I thought it's been pretty nice out the last few days. It's been hot and it's been a little bit humid, but I don't think the humidity has been anywhere like it could be. But if you -- a little bit of breeze has been up there; it's been nice. I don't think it's going to be a problem. I think the problems you might face is if it does rain and the sun comes out after; that's when it gets unbearable, but I think it's kind of nice.
Q. Could you comment on the fact that the last three years, the USGA seems to have backed off on the length of the rough and how that's affected -- how it affected things at Pinehurst, and how you think it will affect play this year?
DAVID DUVAL: I think that's what has happened with the Opens I played. You hit it in the rough and, in essence, you would just hack it out up the fairway. And what that did is seem to make the rough -- you hack it out, wedge it on the green and maybe make a par, if not make a bogey. And I think what they're doing by making the rough a little bit less penal, seemingly, it entices people to try some shots. And I think that, if anything, the penalty might have been increased because of that. All of a sudden you have a shot that you think you can hit on the green, and you try and you don't; and now it runs off the green into some terrible lie or comes up way short in the rough somewhere else and you're playing out of the rough again, as opposed to playing out of the fairway. I think it adds for a little more excitement. I think it's just the venues we've had the last few years have dictated that you really don't want to be playing out of the rough; that you just have to hack out of it.
Q. David, talking about Tiger, he's going to win it, the rest of you don't need to show up. Does it get you mad?
DAVID DUVAL: Repeat the very first part.
Q. Talking about Tiger --
Q. -- that he's going to win this, and the rest of you don't sort of need to show up. Does that make you mad, put more fire, make you more competitive?
DAVID DUVAL: No. Really, what else is there to talk about in the game of golf right now? It doesn't bother me. If I was on the other side of this microphone, I'd be asking about him, too. I think like anybody else, you try to find something else you can write, because what else is there to say? But we all know that Tiger might very well have a great chance to win this week. And as a player, I think you come to the realization that you have to play very well and nearly mistake-free and expect to be battling with him come Sunday.
Q. I know you played here in THE TOUR Championship. I wonder if you could give us your idea of how that setup differs from the setup that you will play this week?
DAVID DUVAL: What I remember from THE TOUR Championship, I don't remember the '95 a whole lot. I remember the golf course being difficult. I think that cold weather and wet weather -- I think I was behind six. So it was completely a different time of year. I don't remember the golf course being that hard then. But I think I was a different player now than I was back then. I feel I've grown and I know how to play the game. And I guess I approach it a little bit differently, maybe with more maturity, and have better course management and just feel -- I feel like I'm smarter. I know how to get around a golf course better. This course is going to play certainly more difficult than it was then, but anytime you have a U.S. Open on any golf course, it's going to play harder than it might normally.
Q. David, you've been so close in major championships in the last three, four years, but obviously haven't been able to win one. How have you dealt with the frustration with not getting in the top in these majors?
DAVID DUVAL: I guess from just not really having a whole lot of frustration. I've done what I can. I've tried to play well, and I've done my best to prepare and make sure I was ready to play when I started. And after that, you just have to kind of let it fall where it will. And I've done well. I've had some chances, and obviously you want those. And certainly I want to win several, but I think I just keep preparing like I have been. It's no different. My approach can't change, I don't think.
Q. Give us a quick update on how you're doing physically. I know you've had some injuries the last couple of years. How do you feel right now?
DAVID DUVAL: I feel fine. The two spots I've hurt, my wrist and my back, are pretty good. I'm getting over a cold or flu or something right now. So just one more small little thing I have to deal with coming into the week. But that's minor compared to some of the other things I've had the last 18 months. I feel good.
Q. David, having seen the setup, when you play around this course, can you identify what you think might be a signature area where maybe the tournament can be decided, where you think a swing will occur, what holes?
DAVID DUVAL: Well, I think we all recognize that 14 through the end of the golf course are difficult holes. I think you can pick out some holes here and there throughout the rest of the course. But I think if I had to pick out a stretch, I think you'd probably look at maybe 9 through 12. There's some severe greens. There's a long par-4 in there. You really have to, I think, be very cautious there, and you have to play from the right positions, and you have to get it in the right areas on those greens, and if you don't, you're really going to have some problems. So I think that might be a stretch that could very well dictate the outcome.
Q. If Tiger Woods was to win again this week, would it be a good thing or a bad thing for the game of golf as a whole?
DAVID DUVAL: Would it be good or bad for golf?
Q. Yes.
DAVID DUVAL: I haven't -- I don't think that anytime -- I think that every time he wins, it's good for golf, I guess is the best way to put that. I think that we're lucky enough to be playing in a time when you're seeing a person who might very well end up being the greatest player that's ever played the game. We're involved in a sport that has the most recognizable athlete, and maybe one of the most recognizable people in the world participating. And as I said at Augusta, and I think for a player like myself and other guys out here, I think that when we're done playing, it's going to make the events that we've competed with him and beat him, the U.S. opens and The Masters and the PGA's and the others; that it's going to make those accomplishments that much better.
Q. Do you recognize that were he to win this week, that ironically for those people who are golf fans, as opposed to sports fans, it may introduce an element of predictability into the game that turns people away, rather than draws them in?
DAVID DUVAL: Certainly, that could be -- you could say that, but from my understanding, and don't get me wrong, I don't seek out these numbers, but television viewing is up. Attendance is up. It doesn't seem like that's a factor, really. That's going to happen. The events where he's not winning, it's pretty obvious to see where he is on the golf course, because that's the biggest gallery. I think people are enjoying watching him play, whether he's winning or not, and I think that's good.
Q. You've talked about -- a lot of people talked about whether there was an intimidation factor. Does he change your thinking or your strategy when you get to the back nine on Sunday and he's there?
DAVID DUVAL: No, I don't think so. If anything -- certainly -- I think the one thing you might think about is that you kind of realize that you're going to need to play well, kind of mistake-free. But I don't think -- I think if you fall into that trap of letting other people dictate how you play, it's just a disaster waiting to happen. If you try things that you normally might not try and hit some shots that you just deep down know you can't hit, then that's just a stupid way to play the game. And I think you need to let your own abilities dictate how you play, and you've got to play your strengths. And I think that's the -- I think that's the big key to playing against Tiger and to beating Tiger is to really concentrate on your strengths and to play to those, and to make -- not make the mistakes and try to do things that you can't do.
Q. Davis is playing for the first time in two months, and I wonder if you can talk about the advantages and disadvantages going into a major from having that much time off, from your perspective?
DAVID DUVAL: I wouldn't know anything about it. (Laughter.) I think that once you get to -- you're going to have probably a little bit of rust from the competitive side of the game. But really, it's a lot like riding a bike: You just kind of don't forget. And then you get one benefit that's it's an extremely good thing to have on your side, and that's being fresh, really being fresh and ready to play. There's a lot of excitement because of that to be out there. I think that you should -- assuming Davis is healthy, I think that you should really pay attention to him this week.
Q. David, as an overall sports fan, you're probably aware that most people consider DiMaggio's hitting streak probably the greatest hitting streak in sports. Where do you see four majors in a row of Tiger's, and whether would it be considered one of the greatest all-time streaks?
DAVID DUVAL: I wasn't aware it wasn't considered that already (laughter.) I think it's second to none in the game of golf, in sports, in general. I don't really know how you could compare it to that 56-game hitting streak. I may be biased, but I'd sure like to have Tiger's streak. That's just my opinion. But I think that's every bit as much.
Q. I wonder if you could talk about your final round at Augusta and what you take from that coming into this tournament, and maybe talk about the missed birdie chance that might have changed the complexion of that final round?
DAVID DUVAL: Missed one where? On 18?
Q. Yes.
DAVID DUVAL: Well, I felt like that day, I had to go out and play pretty much a perfect round. And I think that looking back on it, I might have come as close to doing that as I have at any other time. I did make a couple of bogeys, but they weren't because of bad shots. They were because of misjudges of the wind or -- really, I don't know why a couple of shots went where they did. But we can talk about the putt on 18 and 17, and both putts of which I'm really -- felt good about and thought I made. But that's one of the things that is tough to kind of explain about the game, and with the coverage on television. That is the last hole, and, yes, I did have five, six, seven, eight feet, whatever it was, and I missed it. But I made a lot of putts on holes 1 through 15. And if it wasn't for those putts, that putt on 18 or 17 wouldn't have even mattered. I made it from four feet coming back on 1 for bogey. I made a putt on 2. On 3, I made a 8- or 10-footer for bogey on 4. I made a long putt on 5, on 6, on 7; you can kind of go on and on. You can really pick out a lot of putts. I made my fair share of putts that day. I certainly would have liked to have made those last couple. And I agree that had I made that putt on 18, it might have very well been a different outcome. But I did make a lot of putts to get there. And how it can help me coming in here, I think that if anything, I think I stood up to it quite well, to the challenge. And I did what I needed to do. I got off real hot and real quick and got up on the board and did have a say in what was happening.
Q. David, talk about hole 5, if you could. On Sunday, you hit it in two during practice. A couple of other guys have been going for it. It was thought to be maybe a three-shot hole coming into the tournament. Do you think that's changing? Probably prevailing wind will help. Do you think guys will be going for that green consistently in two?
DAVID DUVAL: No. I think that there's probably -- there's less than six people in the field that can hit it by. For me, I did reach it on Sunday. I hit two really peak shots. And if I play that way, I'm probably going to try to hit it down there and off the tee, and then decide. I don't know what happened off the tee shot, if that ball hit hard and got out there or what. But I think that for me looking at it, that's how I'm going to try to make the hole: Hit it over the left bunker. If I'm close enough, I'll hit it on the green. If not, it will make that layup that much easier for me with a shorter club. It is a long hole, but the fairway is plenty wide, and you can play it with a 3-wood off the tee and 4-iron, and probably hit no more than a 9-iron pitching, wedge into the hole from there. It still is kind of a hole that you can -- for your third shot, you can have a short club coming in.
Q. David, you've said you might possibly have to play mistake-free. You used the words 'perfect round' at the Masters. How absurd would that kind of thinking have seemed three, four, five years ago, at any major, much less a U.S. Open?
DAVID DUVAL: Well, I seem to think that you kind of need to play that way to win these golf tournaments, these big events, because there's going to be a couple of people that you expect to be up there, and there's probably a few that you don't, come Saturday and Sunday. I think that's a lot of what these events is about, is to not make the mistakes, and plodding along and picking up a shot here and there and avoiding disasters. I don't think it's really that much different than it was a few years ago. I think it's become a little more -- kind of at the forefront of people's thinking in how you need to play these events with Tiger participating. I think more emphasis has been put on it, but I don't think it's a whole lot different.