A Holiday Wish for Duval


This holiday wish comes from the heart. Its short and sweet and I really dont much care if you agree or disagree with my intention.
Heres hoping that David Duval gobbles up a win this week at the Dunlop Phoenix and spends Thanksgiving thinking about how he just beat Tiger Woods.
Before you jump to conclusions that I root against Woods, Ill tell you that is hardly the case. Woods is the best ' period. Woods is the best when he has his best and Woods is the best when he seemingly plays his worst. Nobody gets more out of a C game than Tiger. Nobody ever will.
But this is about David Duval finding something other than his F game.
David Duval managed an opening round of 6-under 64 to lead Tiger Woods. Thats right. lead Tiger Woods. And the last time that happened was somewhere around 1998 when Duval lead Woods in the World Golf Ranking.
'I played well,' said Duval. 'I've been playing well for about a month now but just haven't been scoring well. I'm well aware of how I've played over the past few years but I've worked hard and it's good to start a tournament not behind the 8-ball.'
8-ball? If golf were like billiards, Duval would be feeling like every shot he cued up was bound to end with a scratch.
For many fans that have e-mailed and written, Duval has become a sympathetic figure. Others of you ' I know - feel hes been more of a pathetic figure. The media goes both ways, too.
But Im one of the first in line to say that I wish him back to good and hopefully great golf once again.
Viewed by some as a player who lived behind the sunglasses to avoid the popularity that came with a run of 13 PGA Tour wins in a short span, Duval to me was a player who kept you interested.
To me, he was Vijay Singh before Vijay Singh became the superstar he is today. Duval was, in fact, the man who challenged Tiger. He was the man who was supposed to be his rival for years and years and years. Who didnt want that?
And whether you think hes off his rocker more than hes off his game, Duval is a man who clearly has the respect and friendly support from Woods.
It's been tough to watch,' said Woods. 'David is a friend of mine, we played in two World Cups together and he has really struggled. But it looks like he's showing signs of getting his game back together.'
Tigers got class. He knows what Duval has been through. And theres a lot of respect for how hes handled the years in golfs dungeon. Because Duval, unlike some whove clearly lost it, hasnt lost his ability to talk about life when life isnt so great ' professionally speaking that is.
If you follow The Golf Channel and the Sprint Post Game with regularity, you know that Duval agreed (without much hesitation) to join us a few years back at Oak Hill during the PGA Championship (won by Shawn Micheel) for an entire show. On our set, he fielded every possible question for the better part of an hour and a half. How many would have? Im still amazed.
If that wasnt enough, hes joined us on a few occasions since. While his golf success hasnt improved much since, hes never looked the other way when Ive stopped him to talk. Friendly as they come, as far as I see it.
So I hardly wish Woods the worst. But he and his friend Duval are in such different worlds these days that I cant help but root for the story ' which is Duval. A win for the 34 year old would probably feel like a second major championship given that Tigers in the field.
To do that, Duval will have to do something he hasnt done in years, which is to play like a major winner.
'My golf swing is good,' said Duval. 'Most of my problems were because of injuries that forced me to swing the club differently than I wanted to. Today was one of those days when I got the most out of the round I could.'

I cant guarantee that hell keep it up. But if he does pull it off, itll be a holiday gift of the biggest variety. A shocker to be certain.
And I actually think it might be pretty great for golf as well.
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann