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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    M. Jutanugarn eyeing first win with L.A. Open lead

    By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:50 am

    LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn took the lead into the weekend at the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open in her latest bid to join younger sister Ariya as an LPGA winner.

    Moriya Jutanugarn shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 on Friday at Wilshire Country Club to get to 8-under 134 in the LPGA Tour's first event in Los Angeles since 2005. The 23-year-old from Thailand started fast with birdies on the par-5 second, par-4 third and par-3 fourth and added two more on the par-4 11th and par-5 13th.

    Ariya Jutanugarn has seven LPGA victories.

    Marina Alex was second after a 68.


    Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open


    So Yeon Ryu was 6 under after a 69, and fellow South Korean players Inbee Park(71) and Eun-Hee Ji (69). Park was the first-round leader at 66. Lexi Thompsonwas 3 under after a 71.

    Top-ranked Shanshan Feng followed her opening 74 with a 67 to get to 1 under.

    Ariya Jutanugarn (71) was even par, and Michelle Wie (70) was 1 over. Brooke Henderson, the Canadian star who won last week in Hawaii, had a 79 to miss the cut.

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    Johnson, Moore co-lead Valero Texas Open through 36

    By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

    SAN ANTONIO - Zach Johnson was going nowhere in the Valero Texas Open when it all changed with one putt.

    He made an 8-foot par putt on the 13th hole of the opening round to stay at 2 under. He followed with a big drive, a hybrid into 12 feet and an eagle. Johnson was on his way, and he kept right on going Friday to a 7-under 65 and a share of the 36-hole lead with Ryan Moore.

    ''You just never know. That's the beauty of this game,'' Johnson said. ''I felt like I was hitting some solid shots and wasn't getting rewarded, and you've just got to stay in it. You've got to persevere, grind it out, fight for pars. You just never know.''

    Moore had three birdies over his last five holes for a 67 and joined Johnson at 9-under 135.

    They had a one-shot lead over Grayson Murray (69) and Andrew Landry (67).

    Ben Crane (66), Martin Laird (65) and David Hearn (68) were three shots behind. Billy Horschel and Keegan Bradley shot 71 and were four shots behind at 5-under 139.


    Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

    Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos


    Sergio Garcia, who consulted Greg Norman on the design of the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio, had a short stay in his first time at the Texas Open since 2010. Garcia shot an even-par 72, and at one point became so frustrated he threw his driver into the shrubs.

    Garcia finished at 2-over 146 and missed the cut.

    It was the first time since 2010 that Garcia missed the cut in successive starts. That was the PGA Championship and, 10 weeks later, the Castello Masters in Spain. This time, he missed the cut in the Masters and Texas Open three weeks apart.

    Johnson, a two-time winner of the Texas Open, appeared to be headed to a short week until the key par save on the 13th hole, followed by his eagle, par and three straight birdies. He began the second round Friday with five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, a sixth birdie on the par-4 first hole, and then an eagle on the short par-4 fifth when he holed out from a greenside bunker.

    The only sour taste to his second round was a three-putt bogey from about 30 feet on his final hole. Even so, the view was much better than it was Thursday afternoon.

    Moore thought he had wasted a good birdie opportunity on the par-5 14th hole when he left his 50-foot eagle putt about 6 feet short. But he made that, and then holed a similar putt from 8 feet for birdie on the next hole and capped his good finish with a 15-foot putt on the 17th.

    ''That was a huge momentum putt there,'' Moore said of the 14th. ''It was a tough putt from down there with a lot of wind. That green is pretty exposed and ... yeah, really short and committed to that second putt really well and knocked it right in the middle.''

    The birdies on the 14th and 15th were important to Moore because he missed a pair of 10-foot birdie tries to start the back nine.

    ''So it was nice to get those and get going in the right direction on the back,'' he said.

    The cut was at 1-over 145, and because 80 players made the cut, there will be a 54-hole cut on Saturday.

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    Garcia tosses driver, misses Valero cut

    By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

    It wasn't quite to the level of his watery meltdown earlier this month at the Masters, but Sergio Garcia still got frustrated during the second round of the Valero Texas Open - and his driver paid the price.

    Garcia had a hand in redesigning the AT&T Oaks Course along with Greg Norman several years ago, but this marked his first return to TPC San Antonio since 2010. After an opening-round 74, Garcia arrived to the tee of the short par-4 fifth hole and decided to get aggressive with driver in hand.

    When his shot sailed well left, a heated Garcia chucked the club deep into the bushes that lined the tee box:

    It took considerable effort for Garcia to find and retrieve the club amid the branches, and once he did things only got worse. He appeared to shank a chip once he got up to his ball, leading to a bogey on one of the easiest holes on a demanding track.

    Garcia closed out his round with four straight pars, and at 2 over he eventually missed the cut by a shot. It marks the first time he has missed consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour since 2003, when he sat out the weekend at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Fort Worth Invitational and Memorial Tournament in successive weeks.

    Garcia entered the week ranked No. 10 in the world, and he was the only top-20 player among the 156-man field. He missed the cut at the Masters in defense of his title after carding an octuple-bogey 13 on the 15th hole during the opening round.

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    Daly-Allen team grabs Legends of Golf lead on Day 2

    By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 11:14 pm

    RIDGEDALE, Mo. - John Daly and Michael Allen took the second-round lead Friday in the cool and breezy Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

    Daly and Allen shot an 8-under 46 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course with wind gusting to 15 mph and the temperature only in the high-50s at Big Cedar Lodge. They had three birdies on the front nine in alternate-shot play and added five more on the back in better-ball play to get to 13 under.

    ''Michael and I go back to the South African days in the late 80s and playing that tour,'' Daly said. ''We've been buddies since. He's just fun to play with. We feed off each other pretty good. And if he's not comfortable guinea-pigging on one hole, I'll go first.''

    On Thursday, they opened with a 66 on the regulation Buffalo Ridge course. They will rotate to the 13-hole Mountain Top par-3 course on Saturday, and return to Top of the Rock for the final round Sunday.

    ''I went to high school in Jeff City, so it's cool to have the fans behind us,'' Daly said.

    Allen won the PGA Tour Champions team event with David Frost in 2012 and Woody Austin in 2016.

    ''I'm just here to free up John,'' Allen said. ''It was fun. Luckily, I started making good putts today. We just want to keep the good times rolling.''


    Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf


    Defending champions Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco were a stroke back along with Bernhard Langer-Tom Lehman and Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett. Singh and Franco had a 7-under 32 in best-ball play at Mountain Top, and Lehman-Langer and Broadhurst-Tripplet each shot 6-under 48 at Top of the Rock.

    ''Part of the issue here is all the tees are elevated, so you're up high hitting to a green that's down below and the wind is blowing, and there is more time for that wind to affect it,'' Lehman said. ''If you guess wrong on the wind, you can hit a really good shot and kind of look stupid.''

    Former UCLA teammates Scott McCarron and Brandt Jobe were two strokes back at 11 under with Steve Flesch and David Toms and the Spanish side of Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez. McCarron-Jobe had a 47, and Jimenez-Olazabal a 48 at Top of the Rock, and Tom Flesch shot 34 at Mountain Top.

    First-round leaders Jeff Maggert and Jesper Parnevik had a 52 at Top of the Rock to fall three shots back at 10 under. Madison, Wisconsin, friends Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly also were 10 under after a 32 at Mountain Top. Jay Haas aced the 131-yard seventh hole at Mountain Top with a gap wedge. Haas and fellow 64-year-old Peter Jacobsen were 8 under after a 32.