Duval Dad Host Special Olympics Round

By Associated PressOctober 27, 2004, 4:00 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - David Duval could not stop smiling as he stood on the 18th green Tuesday afternoon with a silver trophy in his hands, a scene not much different from three years ago when he was on top of his game and won the British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
This was only an exhibition at Timuquana Country Club.
In some respects, it was more fulfilling than winning a major.
'Without question, the No. 1 round of the year,' Duval said.
He and his father, Champions Tour player Bob Duval, played an 18-hole match with Special Olympics athletes Kevin Erickson of Wisconsin and Oliver Doherty of Ireland as their partners.
The made-for-TV match, produced by Emmy Award winner Ken Murrah, is called 'A Tee Time Like No Other' and will be televised by CBS Sports on New Year's Day, with Jim Nantz hosting the show.
The outcome wasn't important, although everyone played hard.
Erickson, a 21-year-old who had a brain tumor as an infant and cancer in his sinuses three years ago, holed 6-foot putts on the final three holes ' one of them for birdie ' to give him and David Duval a 4-and-3 victory.
Doherty, born with brain damage after his mother was killed in a car accident, is 28 and built like a bouncer. His opening tee shot was only 10 yards short of the former British Open champion.
There were a few laughs along the way.
Erickson split the middle of the first fairway with a slight draw, while Duval hit a slice into the trees.
'At least one of us is in the fairway,' Erickson told him, his speech deliberate but distinct. He was only trying to make conversation, but Duval ' who has struggled to find the short grass ' went along.
'Fairways are overrated,' Duval deadpanned in return.
The match ended on the 15th hole. Erickson and Doherty hit tee shots on the par-3 16th with $1 million if either made a hole-in-one. Then, they headed to the 18th green for the closing ceremony, and everyone got a silver plate.
Duval got a bonus ' perspective.
'As frustrating and maddening as my struggles have been, this makes you realize how small they are,' Duval said. 'I've always believed that people's burden are what they can manage. I've always felt I was a strong guy. But I'm not as strong as these two men.'
Duval, the No. 1 player in golf for much of the summer in 1999, is mired in a mystifying slump. He only returned to golf at the U.S. Open this year and made the cut in three of his nine tournaments.
As a young boy, he donated bone marrow in an effort to save his brother's life from leukemia. After his brother died, Duval spent countless hours on the range at Timuquana, where his father was the head pro. Duval does not see that as an escape, saying it was too long ago for him to remember.
But it was hard to ignore some similarities with his partner.
Erickson, who won the U.S. Golf National Invitational in Florida last year, was born with a tumor and had one-third of his brain removed by the time he was 4 months old, the portion that affects speech and motor skills.
His grandmother, Rita Houston, one day sent him into the back yard with a wedge, golf balls and her laundry basket and told Erickson to see how many he could land in the basket.
'He stood out there for three hours,' she said.
Erickson made his high school golf team, but suffered a setback when he was diagnosed with cancer in his sinuses at 18. She believes golf kept his spirits up, and helped develop anew his muscular coordination.
'Golf is helping him get through life,' Mrs. Houston said. 'He doesn't complain. He doesn't have a great personality, but he's not a complainer. He accepts everything. He has to.'
The match was arranged by the Special Olympics, which wanted to feature some of their finest athletes. Erickson plays off a 12 handicap and rates Duval among his favorite players. He likes Duval for his quiet demeanor and ability that got him to No. 1 in the world.
'He doesn't talk any more than I do,' Erickson told his grandmother when he found out he was playing with Duval.
Doherty's story is equally amazing.
His mother was in a vegetative state after the accident, and it is believed that the brain damage was caused by forceps during the delivery. Doherty was sent to an orphanage, where he was adopted despite his parents being told of partial paralysis on the left side and prognosis that left little hope for an active life.
Jim Doherty, a firefighter who worked on the nine-hole Buncrana Golf Club in northwest Ireland, put a ball in his son's left hand and softly squeezed it shut, a process he repeated until the boy was strong to hold onto the ball. Before long, Doherty was holding a golf club, then winning club championships. He plays off a 5 handicap.
Last year, he won the Special Olympics World Summer Games with a 78 at fabled Portmarnock to win by 20 shots.
'What an honor,' Doherty said quietly after the match was over.
After the ceremony, the Duvals and their partners exchanged gifts and posed for pictures. Duval signed a dozen or so Special Olympics flags, then took two flags for himself and asked Erickson and Doherty to sign them.
Duval also gave Erickson his caddie bib with a message on the back.
'Kevin, thanks for including me in a great day.'
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.

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There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.

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“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”