LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England ' David Duval has returned to the scene of his greatest golf accomplishment. It was 11 years ago here at underrated Royal Lytham & St. Annes that a 29-year-old Duval, who admittedly was insular and only cared about himself, hoisted the claret jug to earn his first, and only, major championship.
Duval had not been back to Lytham until this week. But he returns a much different man than he was in 2001. Hes married with children and, at 40, continues to deal with nagging injuries in his wrists, back and knees. This year on the PGA Tour, Duval has played 13 events and missed 10 cuts. A tie for 60th place is his best finish.
Yet, Duval still has an insane love for the game. He beat balls for 2-plus hours Tuesday in the pouring rain searching for a swing. His confidence is shot but that doesnt mean that hes given up pursuit of adding more trophies to his resume.
On Wednesday at Lytham, an introspective Duval sat down with the media for a heartfelt, 50-minute session where he discussed anything and everything.
Here are the best quotes from the interview:
• Although I haven't won this golf tournament for 11 years, I'm kind of thought of in a weird way as defending because I'm back at my site. I don't think I necessarily feel that way, but I also didn't necessarily feel like the defending champion when we went to Muirfield in '02, because of it being a fresh site.
• My life in general has blown up exponentially in a wonderful way with meeting my wife, having an instant family with stepchildren, having a couple kids of my own biologically. so I'm an incredibly, incredibly wealthy man. I've got a wife that loves me. I love her. The kids are wonderful. You know, they're a pain in the rear like everybody else's kids sometimes, but we have fun. I've been lucky.
• I think on two occasions I took extended time off, but in hindsight the big mistake I made in my career was not stopping sometime in early 2002 and probably not playing again until '04. I should have taken at least a year, maybe more off, just made sure everything kind of got healed, protected my confidence, protected my golf game and moved on and just given away that year and a half, not give away eight years like I did.
• I'm an entirely different person. Back then it was all about me and all about golf, just like the majority of people that have marched through here this week. I mean, it revolves around them, everything. Their handlers, their trainers, their nutritionists, their managers.
• If I was making a trip, like a lot of Americans make trips to come over here and play, I'd tell them to make a point of coming to play this one because I think it's as good as any of the courses we play in the rotation. It's every bit (as good as) Muirfield is or Birkdale. For some reason, it doesn't seem to get that recognition.
• I believe in what I do. I believe in myself as a person. I believe in myself as a golfer and I know I can play as well as anybody. Everything just needs to fall into place a little bit. I need to feel a little better. You hit a couple of golf shots, you build what I talked about with confidence, and you're off.
• 'Hell, I was more than clear about it, I just never thought I'd play on the Champions Tour, but I'd like to play out there some at some point, frankly. At that point in my life I'll be able to travel with my wife alone, and it will be nice. She and I can go to tournaments and hang out and dinners and have fun. But between now and then I plan on playing. That's what I'm focused on right now and that's what I'm working for and that's what I'm planning on doing.