Duval finds happiness maybe his game

By Associated PressJuly 18, 2008, 4:00 pm
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Open ChampionshipSOUTHPORT, England ' David Duval strolled up the final fairway on a cloudy day in dark sunglasses, waving to the cheering fans, back in a familiar place at the British Open.
 
OK, so it was only Friday. And most of the grandstand seats were empty. And this is Royal Birkdale, not Lytham.
 
But, for a guy who lost his way all those years ' even while finding himself away from the golf course ' it was like a homecoming.
 
Cmon, David! someone screamed.
 
This goes out to all those who wondered, Hey, whatever happened to David Duval? Well, hes back ' at least for a day ' and in the unlikeliest of places, the leaderboard of golfs oldest major.
 
For a while, Duval made it feel like 2001 all over again by shooting a 1-under 69 that left him just three strokes behind leader K.J. Choi.
 
Not that Duval is ready to reminisce. Hell leave that to 53-year-old Greg Norman, just one shot off the lead and an equally compelling figure.
 
Stepping back in time? Duval repeated a reporters question. No, Im looking to the future.
 
Good move. That has to be an improvement on what hes gone through the past six or seven years, though any discussion of Duvals descent comes with a very important caveat: Hes never been more content.
 
Duvals teenage stepsons, Deano and Nick, were out on the course with the guy who treats them like his own. Wife Susie was back home in Colorado, caring for the rest of their expansive family: another child from her first marriage, plus the two young children shes had with David since they tied the knot.
 
Its sort of like the Duval Bunch, except the husband came to the table alone, yearning for the comfort and validation of a family to call his own.
 
Im 100 percent happy, he said in the slowly dwindling light of a lengthy summer day. Im where I want to be and Im doing what I want to do. The difficulty now lies in actually leaving and going and playing. You know, Ive become a very good country club golfer. I enjoy carts and 2 1/2 -hour rounds and then going back home. It is sometimes quite hard getting on the road.
 
But dont mistake homesickness for a lack of resolve. Duval intends to get back where he was once: the worlds No. 1 player, standing on the 18th green at Lytham with the claret jug in his grasp, champion of the 2001 British Open.
 
No one could have known, but that moment was his peak; his career was about to go over a cliff. In 2002, Duval slipped to 80th in the PGA rankings and his earnings dipped by a staggering 70 percent. Over the next three years, he played in 49 official Tour events and made the cut in only eight. His paychecks for 2005 totaled all of $7,630.
 
After showing signs of breaking out of his slump, Duval appeared to take a major step backward this year. He came into Birkdale having played in 11 events and surviving exactly one cut.
 
Now, make it two.
 
Duval will be playing on the weekend at the British Open. Hell be in the fifth group from the end, in the mix for a major title, something that would have sounded ludicrous to suggest just two days ago.
 
Well, ludicrous to everyone but Duval.
 
'Ive been expecting to play quite well for some time, he said. Theres nothing thats made it click this week. Whats made it click is whats been going on for the last year and a half and the work Ive been putting in and the time Ive been using to practice.
 
To anyone who would listen, Duval kept insisting it was all coming together: the swing, the mental approach, everything he needed to get back to the top.
 
But first he needed some results to justify his confidence. That was the one thing sorely lacking.
 
So maybe this is the start of what his coach, Puggy Blackmon, said is going to be one of the greatest comebacks in history. Or maybe its just another tantalizing glimpse of what might have been.
 
But make no mistake: Duval wont be fulfilled as just another guy on the Tour, someone who makes cuts and a comfortable living and wins a tournament every now and then. He wants to get back to where he was.
 
No. 1.
 
I probably dont live it and die it like I may have back then, he said, referring to that era when he was an imposing, aloof golfer in the wraparound shades, staring down anyone who got in his way ' Tiger Woods included.
 
But I also havent sought a return to be mediocre, Duval went on. I know what greatness is about, and I know what it takes to have greatness. I wont settle for mediocrity.
 
Blackmon said the breakthrough is closer than anyone can see, even after the last two days at Birkdale.
 
Hes back, the coach said. Its not a matter of if, its a matter of when. Hes got that stare back.
 
If Blackmons prognostication comes to pass this weekend, it will be a more well-rounded person holding the claret jug. Duval didnt have a family of his own when he won at Lytham, which made the achievement feel a bit hollow. That might have planted the seeds of his downfall, revealing to him that other things were more important than just how far and straight he could hit a golf ball.
 
Duval found himself but lost his game.
 
Of course, theres no reason he cant have both.
 
Hes got a super family, Blackmon said, pointing to Nick and Deano, standing along a railing behind the 18th hole. Ive never seen him happier. Hes playing because he wants to play. Hes a total human being now.
 
Duval has already planned out what hell do after the next triumph, the one hes been waiting for since a victory in Japan at the end of 2001. In fact, he knows what hell do after the next two.
 
Ive told my wife, Duval said, that shell get the first trophy ' and the kids will get the second.
 
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    Garcia leads as Valderrama Masters extends to Monday

    By Will GrayOctober 21, 2021, 3:52 pm

    Weather continues to be the enemy at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, where Sergio Garcia remains in front as the tournament heads for a Monday finish.

    European Tour officials had already ceded the fact that 72 holes would not be completed this week in Spain, but players were not even able to finish 54 holes before another set of thunderstorms rolled in Sunday afternoon to once again halt play. Garcia remains in front at 10 under, having played seven holes of the third round in even par, while Lee Westwood is alone in second at 7 under.

    Officials had previously stated an intention to play at least 54 holes, even if that meant extending the tournament to Monday, given that this is the final chance for many players to earn Race to Dubai points in an effort to secure European Tour cards for 2019. Next week's WGC-HSBC Champions will be the final event of the regular season, followed by a three-event final series.


    Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters


    Garcia, who won the tournament last year, started the third round with a four-shot lead over Ashley Chesters. He balanced one birdie with one bogey and remains in position for his first worldwide victory since the Asian Tour's Singapore Open in January.

    Westwood, who has his son Sam on the bag this week, made the biggest charge up the leaderboard with four birdies over his first eight holes. He'll have 10 holes to go when play resumes at 9:10 a.m. local time Monday as he looks to win for the first time since the 2015 Indonesian Masters.

    Shane Lowry and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano are tied for third at 6 under, four shots behind Garcia with 10 holes to play, while Chesters made two double bogeys over his first four holes to drop into a tie for sixth.

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    Austin wins Champions tour's playoff opener

    By Associated PressOctober 21, 2018, 9:35 pm

    RICHMOND, Va. -- Woody Austin knew Bernhard Langer was lurking throughout the final nine holes, and he did just enough to hold him off.

    Austin shot a 3-under 69 for a one-stroke victory Sunday in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

    Langer, the defending tournament champion and series points leader, made the turn one shot off the lead, but eight straight pars kept him from ever gaining a share of the lead. Austin's birdie from 6 feet on the closing hole allowed him to hang on for the victory.

    ''It seemed like he couldn't quite get it over the hump,'' Austin said about Langer, who also birdied No. 18. ''I'm not going to feel bad for the guy. The guy's kind of had things go his way for the last 12 years. Now he sees what it's like to have it happen.''

    The 54-year-old Austin finished with an 11-under total for three rounds at The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course. He won his fourth senior title and first since 2016, and said windy and cool conditions that made scoring difficult played to his advantage.

    ''I was happy to see it. I really enjoy a difficult test,'' he said. ''... I enjoy even par meaning something. That's my game.''

    Langer closed with a 70. The winner last week in North Carolina, the 61-year-old German star made consecutive birdies to finish the front nine, but had several birdie putts slide by on the back.


    Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic


    ''I made a couple important ones and then I missed a couple important ones, especially the one on 16,'' Langer said. ''I hit three really good shots and had about a 6-footer, something like that, and I just didn't hit it hard enough. It broke away.''

    Austin dropped a stroke behind Jay Haas and Stephen Ames with a bogey on the par-3 14th. He got that back with a birdie from about 5 feet on the par-4 15th and then got some good fortune on the final hole when his firmly struck chip hit the flag and stopped about 6 feet away.

    ''I always say usually the person that wins gets a break on Sunday,'' he said. ''That was my break.''

    The 64-year-old Haas, the second-round leader after a 65, had a 74 to tie for third with Fran Quinn (69) and Kent Jones (70) at 9 under. Haas was bidding to become the oldest winner in the history of the tour for players 50 and older.

    ''Disappointed, for sure,'' Haas said. ''Not going to get many more opportunities like this, but it gives me hope, too, that I can still do it.''

    The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 move on to the Invesco QQQ Championship next week in Thousand Oaks, California, and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

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    After Further Review: American success stories

    By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 21, 2018, 8:35 pm

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the global nature of Koepka's rise to No. 1 ...

    Brooks Koepka is an American superstar, and a two-time winner of his national open. But his rise to world No. 1 in, of all places, South Korea, emphasizes the circuitous, global path he took to the top.

    After winning the CJ Cup by four shots, Koepka was quick to remind reporters that he made his first-ever start as a pro in Switzerland back in 2012. He cracked the top 500 for the first time with a win in Spain, and he broke into the top 100 after a good week in the Netherlands.

    Koepka languished on the developmental Challenge Tour for a year before earning a promotion to the European Tour, and he didn’t make a splash in the States until contending at the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

    It’s a testament to Koepka’s adaptability and raw talent that he can handle the heights of Crans-Montana as well as the slopes of Shinnecock Hills or rough of Nine Bridges. And as the scene shifts to China next week, it highlights the global nature of today’s game – and the fact that the best in the world can rise to the occasion on any continent. - Will Gray


    On the resurgence of American women  ...

    American women are on a nice roll again. Danielle Kang’s victory Sunday at the Buick LPGA Shanghai was the third by an American over the last five events. Plus, Annie Park and Marina Alex, emerging American talents looking for their second victories this season, tied for second. So did American Brittany Altomare. Two years ago, Americans won just twice, their fewest victories in a single season in LPGA history. Overall, women from the United States have won seven times this season.

    The Americans are making their move with Stacy Lewis on maternity leave and with Lexi Thompson, the highest ranked American in the world, still looking for her first victory this year. Yes, the South Koreans have won nine times this season, but with four LPGA events remaining in 2018 the Americans actually have a chance to be the winningest nation in women’s golf this year. With all the grief they’ve received the last few years, that would be a significant feat. - Randall Mell

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    In Buick win, Kang overcame demons of mind and spirit

    By Randall MellOctober 21, 2018, 3:33 pm

    Danielle Kang beat three of the most formidable foes in golf Sunday to win the Buick LPGA Shanghai.

    Anxiety.

    Frustration.

    Anger.

    Kang overcame these demons of mind and spirit to win for the second time on tour, backing up her KPMG Women’s PGA Championship victory last year.

    “I’ve been going through a lot mentally,” Kang said.

    Kang birdied four of the last eight holes to close with a 3-under-par 69, coming from one shot back in the final round to win. At 13-under 275, she finished two shots ahead of a pack of seven players, including world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn (71) and former world No. 1 Lydia Ko (66).

    It hasn’t been easy for Kang trying to build on her major championship breakthrough last year. She started the fall Asian swing having missed three cuts in a row, five in her last six starts.

    “I had to go through swing changes,” Kang said. “I had the swing yips, the putting yips, everything possibly you could think of.

    “I was able to get over a lot of anxiety I was feeling when I was trying to hit a golf ball. This week I just kept trusting my golf game.”

    Through her swoon, Kang said she was struggling to get the club back, that she was getting mentally stuck to where she could not begin her takeaway. She sought out Butch Harmon, back at her Las Vegas home, for help. She said tying for third at the KEB Hana Bank Championship last week felt like a victory, though she was still battling her demons there.

    “Anxiety over tee balls,” Kang said. “People might wonder what I'm doing. I actually can't pull the trigger. It has nothing to do with the result. Having to get over that last week was incredible for me. Even on the first round, one shot took me, I think, four minutes.”

    Kang, who turned 26 on Saturday, broke through to win last year under swing coach David Leadbetter, but she began working with Harmon while struggling in the second half this year.


    Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos


    “I was actually very frustrated, even yesterday,” Kang said. “Things just weren't going my way. The biggest thing that Butch tells me is to stay out of my own way. I just couldn't do that. If I had a short putt, I just kept doubting myself. I couldn't putt freely.”

    Kang said her anger and frustration built up again on the front nine Sunday. She made the turn at 1 over for the round. She said her caddie, Oliver Brett, helped her exorcise some anger. After the ninth hole, he pulled her aside.

    This is how Kang remembered the conversation:

    Brett: “Whatever you need to do to let your anger out and restart and refresh, you need to do that now.”

    Kang: “Cameras are everywhere. I just want to hit the bag really hard.”

    Brett: “Here's a wedge. Just smash it.”

    Kang did.

    “Honestly, I thank him for that,” Kang said. “He told me there are a lot birdies out there. I regrouped, and we pretended we started the round brand new on the 10th hole. Then things changed and momentum started going my way. I started hitting it closer and felt better over the putts.”

    Kang said the victory was all about finding a better place mentally.

    “I'm just so happy to be where I'm at today,” Kang said. “I'm just happy that I won.

    “More so than anything, I'm finally at a place where I'm peaceful and happy with my game, with my life . . . . I hope I win more. I did the best I can. I'm going to keep working hard and keep giving myself chances and keep putting myself in contention. I'll win more. I'll play better.”