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Durant Defends First of Two at Bob Hope

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Prior to the 2001 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic Joe Durant was a one-win wonder. He captured the Western Open in 1998, but only recorded four top-10s over the next two years.
 
Then something ' everything ' clicked in La Quinta, Calif. He opened in 65; shot 11-under 61 in Round 2; followed with a 67; and continued with a 66. Amazingly, the four scores came over four different courses. And even more impressively, he set a 72-hole PGA Tour scoring record at 29-under-par.
 
Leading by five strokes with 18 holes to play, Durant failed to ease off the gas, instead accelerating to a final-round 65. He finished the tournament at 36-under-par 324 ' a 90-hole tour record.
 
It was really a magical week, Durant said upon collecting his second career title.
 
For good measure he won his next start, as well, at the Genuity Championship.
 
Durants start to the 2001 campaign was quite a departure from where he was in his professional life a decade ago.
 
He took six months off after the 1991 Buy.Com Tour season ended. He received a license to sell insurance, though he never actually sold a policy. He also took a job at a golf equipment retail house, filling orders and stacking boxes.
 
It wasnt until his wife, Tracey, lectured him about his negative attitude that things began to turn for the positive.
 
Finally, in 1997, Durant secured a place in the big leagues. He finished 100th on the money list that season, and then climbed to No. 43 in earnings, thanks primarily to his Western triumph.
 
And though he missed 13 cuts in 26 starts in 99, Durant never lost his card ' nor his positive outlook.
 
Thanks to his overly impressive beginning a year ago, Durant was named Comeback Player of the Year, as voted by his peer.
 
Now, he has to find a way to regain that level of performance. He missed nine of his final 13 cuts in 2001, and started this season with a tie for 20th in the 32-man field at the Mercedes Championships and a tie for 54th in last weeks Sony Open in Hawaii.
 
Durant will face some stiff competition in the $4 million, five-day event. 2000 champion Jesper Parnevik, 1999 winner David Duval, Mark Calcavecchia, John Daly, David Toms, Charles Howell III, Hal Sutton and Mike Weir are in the field.
 
Most notably, Phil Mickelson will make his 02 debut. It will be the leftys first start since the WGC-NEC Invitational in August. Mickelson skipped his title defense in the Tour Championship and the Mercedes Championships to be with his family, which includes daughter Sophia Isabel, born on Oct. 23.
 
One-hundred-and-44 players are competing alongside 432 amateurs. They will play four layouts over the first four days: the host Palmer Private Course at PGA West, which will be played on exclusively Sunday, Indian Wells Country Club, Bermuda Dunes Country Club and Tamarisk Country Club.
 
Tamarisk was last in the rotation when Duval prevailed in 99, the year he fired a final-round 59. La Quinta Country Club is the odd course out this year.
 
Full field and more on the 2002 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic

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