Duval Still Playing the Waiting Game

By Associated PressMay 14, 2008, 4:00 pm
DULUTH, Georgia -- David Duval got started on the next tournament in his latest comeback at one of his favorite restaurants.
Waffle House.
I had eggs, chicken, toast, grits and a double order of hash browns, Duval said, breaking into a smile that has seemed so hard to muster through much of his golfing career. Gotta have the double order of hash browns.
Now, if only Duval could order up the shots that once made him the worlds No. 1 player.
Its been seven years since he was that aloof, buffed-up golfer in the dark, wraparound sunglasses, striking fear into lesser players and looking every bit like this generations most worthy challenger to Tiger Woods.
But, instead of playing the Tom Watson role to Woods Jack Nicklaus, Duval became the guy who would have trouble competing at Q-school. He still has his PGA TOUR card, but that has more to do with personal hardship than anything hes done lately on the course.
Duval played in only seven tournaments in 2007, stepping aside to be with his wife during a difficult pregnancy. Hes played eight times this year on a family crisis waiver, but has yet to make a cut. Yep, the guy whos won nearly $17 million in his career has yet to earn a single dollar in 2008.
Hes also heavier than he was in his prime, carrying a noticeable bulge around his midsection. He is listed at 180 pounds, but hes probably closer to 200 and says he needs to lose about 20 pounds. But Duval insists hes happy with his life and confident he can turn things around.
Im a lot closer to playing great golf than my scores indicate, said Duval, whose averaging nearly 75 strokes per round and doesnt rank any higher than 106th in the myriad of categories kept by the PGA TOUR . When Im swinging well, nobody hits the golf ball any better than I do.
He was once the worlds top-ranked player, supplanting Woods in the standings. He became the first golfer ever to shoot 59 in the final round of a tournament, closing with an eagle on the 18th hole of the 1999 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. He has won 13 tournaments on the PGA TOUR and 19 around the world, the last of them seemingly the one that would propel his career to even greater heights.
Instead, after winning the 2001 British Open, Duval went into a free fall. He slumped to 80th on the money list in 2002 and 211th the following year. He was more likely to shoot 80 as he was to break par, as likely to hit someone in the gallery as he was the fairway.
Its a lot more fun when youre shooting 66 every day, he conceded Wednesday, before heading off to play in the pro-am for this weeks AT&T Classic in suburban Atlanta.
Along the way, Duval found clarity in his personal life'marrying, becoming a father, insisting he had discovered a greater purpose than hitting a golf ball. Some even wondered if family bliss ruined his career, taking away that competitive edge he once held over everyone not named Tiger.
Duval scoffs at those who say you cant be a loving husband and dad'and successful golfer.
Jack Nicklaus did it pretty well, he said. If anything, I would think it would be the other way. You would be so hyper-focused, youd get that much more out of your effort.
While he doesnt like looking back, Duval points to back problems as the main culprit in his decline. He began to swing so his back wouldnt hurt, and he soon had no idea where the ball was going.
When I was swinging great, I hit the golf ball dead straight, he said. I faced a problem that thousands and thousands of golfers have faced. Id get on the tee and I wouldnt know where to aim because I didnt know if I was going to hit it right or left or straight. It almost becomes a cliche, but its very difficult to play this game, especially professionally, if you cant eliminate half the golf course.
Duvals fellow players are sympathetic to his plight, but know theres more to the man that the numbers he writes on his card. Once viewed as caustic and unapproachable, hes now friendlier to those around him'the media included' and draws plenty of cheers from the hackers in the gallery, who can certainly relate to what hes going through.
I dont think David wants my empathy, to be honest with you, Paul Goydos said. Hes a good man. Hes well-read. Hes smart. I think hes as happy as hes ever been in his life with his family situation. Sometimes, I think we overrate the importance of hitting a little white ball around a big grass field.
Then, Goydos added, I shouldnt say this because its not my place, but if you asked David if he was happier when he was No. 1 in the world or today, I think youd be surprised by the answer.
Duval figures he can still have it all: happiness at home and on the course. For starters, he admittedly needs to get in better shape, having cut back on his once-brutal workout regime because he was tired of his body hurting so much.
Frankly, he said, Im in the same boat right now with a lot of people, where I need to lose a few pounds and get healthier.
Hes convinced that his swing isnt that far off. The main thing holding him back at this point is a lack of confidence.
Not surprisingly, Duvals psyche is still a bit fragile. In his prime, he figured those few errant shots he hit were an anomaly, and quickly cast them aside. Now, hes prone to still be thinking about a bad swing when he lines up to take the next one.
Im motivated to do it. I have the desire to do it, he said. Ive just got to keep going.
With that, Duval headed for the course, his trademark sunglasses perched on the back of his head while he tried to look forward.

Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - AT&T Classic
  • GOLF CHANNEL Airtimes
  • Getty Images

    Watch: Stefani makes hole-in-one, has no clue

    By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 23, 2018, 3:18 pm

    Shawn Stefani made a hole-in-one on the par-3 17th in the second round of the Corales Puntacana Resorts and Club Championship.

    However, he never saw it go in.

    Stefani knew he hit a great shot, and this isn't shown in the video below, but he just questioned everyone around him if they saw the ball go into the hole.

    A Golf Channel cameraman finally gave him the news and Stefani responded with an enthusiastic thumbs up.

    Getty Images

    Trio lead Kia Classic; Davies shoots 82

    By Associated PressMarch 23, 2018, 3:01 am

    CARLSBAD, Calif. - Laura Davies had a nightmare round days after contending for a title at age 54, and Caroline Hedwall, Jackie Stoelting and Hee Young Park topped the Kia Classic leaderboard.

    Davies shot a 10-over 82 on Thursday at rainy Aviara Golf Club - four days after tying for second behind Inbee Park in the Founders Cup, and five days after shooting a 9-under 63 in the Phoenix event.

    Fighting Achilles tendon and calf problems in her left leg, Davies opened double bogey-bogey-par-bogey. She bogeyed Nos. 9, 10 and 12, had another double on 15 and bogeyed 16. The 82 was the World Golf Hall of Famer's highest score on tour since also shooting 82 in the 2013 Marathon Classic. On Monday, she jumped 208 spots to No. 155 in the world.

    Hedwall, Stoelting and Park shot 66 in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills. Ariya Jutanugarn, also coming off a second-place tie in Phoenix, was a stroke back with 2015 champion Cristie Kerr, In-Kyung Kim and Nicole Broch Larsen.

    Hedwall closed her bogey-free round with birdies on the par-5 eighth and par-4 ninth. The Swede played her final 10 holes in 6 under. Players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairways because of the damp conditions.

    ''I hit it really well and started making a couple putts in my back nine,'' Hedwall said. ''I'm really happy with how I'm playing and looking forward to the rest of the days.''

    Stoelting finished with a birdie on the par-4 18th. She had seven birdies and a bogey.

    ''I hit a lot of fairways,'' Stoelting said. ''I don't necessarily hit if far, but keeping it in the fairway is super key this week. The rough is much thicker this year than last year.''

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    Hee Young Park birdied the final three holes, finishing on No. 9.

    ''The greens are really soft,'' Park said. ''So, easier on the second shot.''

    The 40-year-old Kerr had a bogey-free round.

    ''I like this golf course,'' Kerr said. ''I think it's a tough golf course and you can't fall asleep on any shot. I mean, it's just a really great course. The layout. The rough is high. You got to pay attention. I think that's maybe why I play a little better here than some other places.''

    Jutanugarn closed with a 5-under 31 on the front nine.

    ''It's rain today and a little bit windy, but my irons help me a lot,'' Jutanugarn said. ''Just start to make some putts. ... It's pretty tough for me. I always feel like the course here is really hard because the greens really bumpy, and you're not going to hit far here.''

    Lydia Ko and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu topped the group at 68.

    Ko also played her final nine in 31. She missed the cut last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix.

    ''I holed some really good putts on my back nine,'' Ko said. ''I didn't hit the ball fantastic, but just being able to hole some good birdie putts was key.''

    She won the 2016 event at Aviara.

    ''This is a pretty tough golf course,'' Ko said. ''Putting is a huge key around this course where if you do miss a green, making those clutch par putts and then making those birdie opportunities that you get.''

    Jennifer Song and Jeong Eun Lee also shot 68. Brooke Henderson had a 69, and Lexi Thompson a 70.

    Inbee Park was at 71 with Singapore champion Michelle Wie and 2014 Kia winner Anna Nordqvist. Top-ranked Shanshan Feng had a 72, playing alongside Park. Defending champion Mirim Lee shot 74.

    Getty Images

    With old clubs returned, Kim (and new clubs) starts strong at Kia

    By Randall MellMarch 23, 2018, 1:53 am

    Almost two months after her golf clubs went missing, the same clubs she used to win last year’s Ricoh Women’s British Open, In-Kyung Kim was happily reunited with them this week.

    She fetched them and her golf bag two days ago at the Carlsbad, Calif., police department.

    A man bought them as a used set from a sporting goods store in the area, with Kim’s LPGA I.D. still in the golf bag.

    Notably, Kim celebrated with a return to the leaderboard Thursday in the first round of the Kia Classic.

    Kim opened with a 5-under-par 67, though she didn’t use her newly rediscovered clubs. She stayed with the replacement set that she put together after her clubs went missing. Her Women’s British Open clubs never showed up after she got off a plane in Southern California upon her return home from the season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic.

    “It was really difficult at first,” Kim said of getting used to her new set of clubs. “I really worked hard, like worked a lot, went to the factory like a dozen times.”

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    Kim said she made several visits to the factory folks, trying to get the loft and lies of her new clubs just the way she wanted, close to the configuration that helped her win the Women’s British Open.

    “They were like, `I.K., are you ever happy?’” Kim said.

    Actually, only five of Kim’s “lost” clubs turned up with her golf bag at that sporting goods store. Still, Kim was happy to get three wedges, two hybrids and her golf bag back.

    “It’s kind of good to have a conclusion,” Kim said.

    Kim can thank a “What’s in the bag?” segment with Ladies European Tour TV analyst Alison Whitaker for leading to the retrieval of her clubs. Kim explained to Whitaker how her clubs went missing during the telecast of the HSBC Women’s World Championship three weeks ago.

    A golf fan in the San Diego area saw Golf Channel’s telecast of that segment.

    “One of his friends bought the tour bag,” Kim said. “The other friend knew about my story, and he was like, `No, dude, that's not for selling. It's stolen.’”

    Kim was delighted to meet the men who returned her clubs when she picked them up at the Carlsbad Police Department.

    “Just good for me,” Kim said.

    Getty Images

    Ko (68) off to best start of year at Kia Classic

    By Randall MellMarch 23, 2018, 12:39 am

    Lydia Ko didn’t take long to put last week’s missed cut behind her Thursday at the Kia Classic.

    She got off to her best start of the year.

    With a 4-under-par 68, Ko finished the day in a tie for eighth, just two shots off the lead at Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad, Calif.

    “I would say I didn't hit the ball fantastic, but just being able to hole some good birdie putts was key,” Ko said.

    Ko scrambled her way to her low opening round of the year in light rain. She hit just seven of 14 fairways and 11 greens, but only needed 25 putts.

    “This is a pretty tough golf course,” Ko said. ”I think putting is a huge key around this course, where if you do miss a green, making those clutch par putts and then making those birdie opportunities that you get.”

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    Aviara’s poa annua greens have been known to give players fits, but Ko had her flatstick working. After making the turn at 1 over, she made five birdies on her second nine.

    Ko, 20, won at Aviara two years ago but missed the cut there last year.

    “I love Carlsbad,” Ko said “I would say it’s one of my favorite cities in the world. It’s nice to come back to a place where you’ve played well and love the area.”

    Ko, seeking her first victory since July of 2016, has her new coach, Ted Oh, working with her in Carlsbad this week. Oh made the trip to Asia last month, helping Ko to her tie for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship. But, she missed the cut in Phoenix last week in her next start.

    “All I can do is try my best,” Ko said. “Hopefully, I'll be able to keep this good momentum going.”