Last Saturday, David Duval determined on a cart path, of all places, at Cherry Hills Country Club in Englewood, Col., that he finally felt a mile high about the thought of playing major tournament golf once again.
'If this week was Memphis, Id probably be in Memphis,' Duval said in a very emotional Wednesday news conference. 'It has to do with the U.S. Open and some of it has to do with I finally wanted to go. Thats it.'
And so, Duval is here at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. And on Thursday he put press conference thoughts behind him and the fairways of competitive golf in front of him. In his first competitive round since he withdrew from the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan late last fall, David let it rip off the first tee and finished his first hole back with a birdie.
Eighty strokes later, Duval signed for a first-round 83 that included three double bogeys. And it was about two hours later that it all sunk in for me.
David had politely agreed to join us for a segment on the Sprint Post Game. And I asked him about whether or not he felt a desire to try and climb the mountain once again and return to the level that vaulted him to the top of golfs world.
His answer was pretty telling. He said hed 'let us know.' In other words: TBD, if you know what I mean.
And with that, here are my thoughts on Duval:
First of all, he has more sincere and genuine respect for people than most any tour player youd come across. Better still, Id bet that hed treat any of you the same way in a friendly foursome. Hes always been honest to me. And Im guessing he speaks his mind to most everyone he comes in contact with.
Yet, David Duval has been beaten up in so many articles it's ridiculous. Hes been 'figured out' by more people during his time on tour than you can imagine. And finally, hed had enough. He was tired of the grind, both on the course and off it. He was tired of the bad press, and even the good press.
'Ive always been curious as to why some people think that the words they write are how another man should live,' Duval said on Wednesday. 'It makes no sense.'
Wow! Isnt that what we should aim to do? Should a mans worth to others go up because hes worth a few more million than the rest of us? If someone says theyve had enough, cant we take them at their word?
Suddenly, David Duval didnt care any more about making millions, or winning golf tournaments, or signing big endorsements. He didnt care if you cared, or if your friends cared either. Duval had figured out that there is more to life than a job. There is more to life than accumulated wealth. And theres certainly more to life than pleasing others.
David Duval realized that he needed to please himself.
And now that hes back, having found the light, so to speak, the people are warming up to him like never before. And it makes me wonder: cmon people, what took so long?
'Ive gotten applauded for being the way I am, for being honest, and Ive gotten beat up for it too,' David said. 'And what it says to me is my decision to speak honestly the whole time, to give opinions, was the right decision.'
'People can decipher the words and figure out that a man should speak from his heart and give an opinion of what he thinks,' Duval continued. 'I think thats where that outpouring has come from, that they just respect me for what Ive said or done or been. And thats it.'
Unfortunately, society doesnt, often enough, allow us to speak from our hearts. At times, these days we even have trouble thinking from our hearts. At least I do.
This week, David Duval has taught us to find something in our hearts other than a job or a paycheck or a world ranking. I think hes reminded us to re-prioritize.
After we finished taping our segment with David for Thursday nights show, Brian Hewitt and I asked him about his schedule from here. He said hed certainly play the Open Championship at Troon, Scotland. Perhaps hed even play an event before then, and he certainly expects to play his new hometown event on the PGA Tour ' the International outside Denver.
Other than that ' no guarantees. Not to me, not to you, or anyone else. He talked about living for the moment, which is good advice to all of us.
'My expectations this week are to have fun, to enjoy the atmosphere, and thats about it,' Duval preached. 'I just came to have fun.'
Shouldnt we all? Good for you, David Duval. Good for you.
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