Duval Still Smiling After 83

By Associated PressJune 17, 2004, 4:00 pm
SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. -- Nobody this side of Arnold Palmer ever smiled so much shooting an 83. David Duval was thrilled to be playing golf again, and the fans at Shinnecock Hills who cheered him at every turn made him feel like a king Thursday in the U.S. Open.
Never mind that he spent most of his round in grass up to his knees. It got so bad on the front nine that Duval had to take an unplayable lie from the rough on consecutive holes. When he chopped out from the left rough to the right rough and eventually made double bogey on the 18th hole, he had an 83 to match his worst score as a professional.
And the applause only got louder.
'If he had played how they rooted for him, he would done very well,' Scott Hoch said.
Duval returned to competition for the first time in seven months, bringing an untested game to the toughest test in golf. The result was predictable, but that's not how Duval kept score.
'There's some kinks to work out and some rust to get rid of,' he said. 'But at least I did a lot of things I wanted to do today. And most importantly, I enjoyed being out there.
'All in all, I would call it an enormous victory for me today.'
The last time anyone saw Duval at a major, he shot 80 in the first round of the PGA Championship in August, withdrew from the tournament and a short time later vanished from the PGA Tour. Some of it was his health. Most of it was his confidence. He became a shattered shell of a guy who was No. 1 in the world five years ago and a British Open champion in 2001.
Judging strictly on his performance, not much has changed.
Based on his demeanor, he looked like a new man.
During his time away, Duval married and found happiness at home in Denver with a wife and her three children. He learned to appreciate that he can play golf for a living, but made sure he returned only when he was excited to play.
'I stand here a blessed man,' he said. 'What's happened to me in the last six to eight months is far greater than anything I've ever done for the last 10 years around here.'
For a fleeting moment, it looked like Duval was still an awesome talent in control of his game.
'Tear it up, David!' someone from the gallery cried out as he prepared to hit his opening tee shot.
Duval backed off, smiled at caddie Mitch Knox, then ripped a 3-wood down the middle of the narrow fairway. From there, he hit a wedge 12 feet below the cup and when his birdie putt dropped, Duval was 1 under par and tied for the lead in the U.S. Open.
OK, it was early.
'I want to see the headline - Duval leading U.S. Open,' joked his agent, Charley Moore.
Another good tee shot on the par-3 second was about a foot away from being perfect, but caught a ridge and dropped into the bunker. Duval saved par with a 10-foot putt, then saved another par after barely catching the right rough with a 3-wood off the tee.
So far, so good.
All it took was one hole for everything to fall apart. Duval duck-hooked his driver so badly on No. 4 that it went beyond the rough into a large clump of weeds. It was buried so deep he had to take a penalty drop into hay that had been trampled by the gallery, and he eventually three-putted for double bogey.
Duval hooked another tee shot on the par-5 fifth and tried to hack out of the weeds, only for the grass to grab the bottom of his club and send the shot into even deeper rough. The top of the grass was almost to his waist, and Duval had no choice but to take another unplayable lie, another penalty shot, another double bogey.
'It goes without saying I'm not tournament ready,' Duval said. 'Then, add the U.S. Open course to the mix and that adds some more shots to the score. How many? I'm not sure.'
Duval's problems started off the tee, no matter what club he had in his hands. Of the four fairways he hit, he made two birdies, the other one coming on a 50-foot putt at the 12th. That also was the only hole where he didn't make bogey on the back nine.
The fans said, 'Welcome back, David' on every hole, and Duval acknowledge every fan.
Shinnecock Hills seemed to say him, 'Welcome to the U.S. Open.'
Tiger Woods, who replaced Duval at No. 1 at the '99 PGA Championship and has been there ever since, played two groups behind and caught up with him after the round.
'The U.S. Open is going to be tough, and if plays poorly, a lot of guys are,' Woods said. 'So, of all the tournaments to play, I think he's probably doing the right thing.'
Despite an 83 - he also had an 83 in the British Open and Masters last year - and despite hitting only three greens in regulation, Duval said he is 'right on the edge' of playing good golf.
'Some of that involves being out here and getting comfortable,' he said. 'Some of that involves building confidence and belief in the way I'm swinging and the work I've done.'
He still doesn't know how much he will play the rest of the year, but he left on a high note.
'I can't wait to go play tomorrow,' Duval said.
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    Reed: 'Back still hurts' from carrying Spieth at Ryder Cup

    By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 10:48 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – Friday’s marquee match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play between Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, who are both undefeated in pool play, just keeps getting better and better.

    Following his 1-up victory over Charl Schwartzel on Thursday, Reed was asked what makes Spieth, who defeated HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, so good at match play.

    “I don't know, my back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup,” smiled Reed, who teamed with Spieth at Hazeltine National.

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    The duo did go 2-1-1 at the 2016 Ryder Cup and have a combined 7-2-2 record in Ryder and Presidents Cup play. Reed went on to explain why Spieth can be such a challenging opponent in match play.

    “The biggest thing is he's very consistent. He hits the ball well. He chips the ball well. And he putts it really well,” Reed said. “He's not going to give you holes. You have to go and play some good golf.”

    The winner of Friday’s match between Spieth and Reed will advance to the knockout stage.

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    Reed vs. Spieth: Someone has to go

    By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 10:11 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – The introduction of round-robin play to the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was a necessary evil. It was needed to stem the tide of early exits by high-profile players, but three days of pool play has also dulled the urgency inherent to match play.

    There are exceptions, like Friday’s marquee match between Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, which is now a knockout duel with both players going 2-0-0 to begin the week in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

    That the stars aligned so perfectly to have America’s most dominant pairing in team play the last few years square off in a winner-take-all match will only add to what promises to be must-see TV.

    Sport doesn’t always follow the script, but the pre-match subtext on this one is too good to dismiss. In one corner, professional golf’s “Golden Child” who has used the Match Play to wrest himself out of the early season doldrums, and in the other there’s the game’s lovable bad boy.

    Where Spieth is thoughtful and humble to the extreme, Reed can irritate and entertain with equal abandon. Perhaps that’s why they’ve paired so well together for the U.S. side at the Ryder and Presidents Cup, where they are a combined 7-2-2 as a team, although Spieth had another explanation.

    “We're so competitive with each other within our own pairing at the Ryder Cup, we want to outdo each other. That's what makes us successful,” Spieth said. “Tiger says it's a phenomenon, it's something that he's not used to seeing in those team events. Normally you're working together, but we want to beat each other every time.”

    But if that makes the duo a good team each year for the United States, what makes Friday’s showdown so compelling is a little more nuanced.

    The duo has a shared history that stretches all the way back to their junior golf days in Texas and into college, when Reed actually committed to play for Texas as a freshman in high school only to change his mind a year later and commit to Georgia.

    That rivalry has spilled over to the professional ranks, with the twosome splitting a pair of playoff bouts with Reed winning the 2013 Wyndham Championship in overtime and Spieth winning in extra holes at the 2015 Valspar Championship.

    Consider Friday a rubber match with plenty of intrigue.

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    Although the friendship between the two is genuine, there is an edge to the relationship, as evidenced by Reed’s comment last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational when he was denied relief on the 11th hole on Sunday.

    “I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth, guys,” Reed said.

    While the line was clearly a joke, Reed added to Friday’s festivities when he was asked what makes Spieth such a good match play opponent. “I don't know, my back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup,” smiled Reed, a not-so-subtle suggestion that he carried Spieth at Hazeltine.

    For his part, Spieth has opted for a slightly higher road. He explained this week that there have been moments in the Ryder Cup when his European opponents attempted some gamesmanship, which only angered Reed and prompted him to play better.

    “I've been very nice to [Reed] this week,” Spieth smiled.

    But if the light-hearted banter between the duo has fueled the interest in what is often a relatively quiet day at the Match Play, it’s their status as two of the game’s most gritty competitors that will likely lead to the rarest of happenings in sport – an event that exceeds expectations.

    Both have been solid this week, with Speith winning his first two matches without playing the 18th hole and Reed surviving a late rally from Charl Schwartzel on Thursday with an approach at the 18th hole that left him a tap-in birdie to remain unbeaten.

    They may go about it different ways, but both possess the rare ability to play their best golf on command.

    “I’m glad the world gets to see this because it will be special,” said Josh Gregory, Reed’s college coach who still works with the world No. 23. “You have two players who want the ball and they aren’t afraid of anything. Patrick lives for this moment.”

     Where Reed seems to feed off raw emotion and the energy of a head-to-head duel, Spieth appears to take a more analytical approach to match play. Although he admits to not having his best game this week, he’s found a way to win matches, which is no surprise to John Fields, Spieth’s coach at Texas.

    “Jordan gave us a tutorial before the NCAA Championship, we picked his brain on his thoughts on match play and how he competed. It’s one of those secret recipes that someone gives you,” Fields said. “When he was a junior golfer he came up with this recipe.”

    Whatever the secret sauce, it will be tested on Friday when two of the game’s most fiery competitors will prove why match play can be the most entertaining format when the stars align like they have this week.

    It was a sign of how compelling the match promises to be that when asked if he had any interest in the Spieth-Reed bout, Rory McIlroy smiled widely, “I have a lot of interest in that. Hopefully I get done early, I can watch it. Penalty drops everywhere.”

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    Watch: Bubba casually hits flop shot over caddie's head

    By Grill Room TeamMarch 22, 2018, 9:20 pm

    We've seen this go wrong. Really wrong.

    But when your end-of-year bonus is a couple of brand new vehicles, you're expected to go above and beyond every now and then.

    One of those times came early Thursday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, where Bubba Watson’s caddie Ted Scott let his boss hit a flop shot over his head.

    It wasn’t quite Phil Mickelson over Dave Pelz, but the again, nothing is.

    And the unique warm-up session paid off, as Watson went on to defeat Marc Leishman 3 and 2 to move to 2-0-0 in group play.

    Hey, whatever works.

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    Spieth explains why he won't play in a 'dome'

    By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 9:01 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – No one at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was as excited about Thursday’s forecast as Jordan Spieth.

    Winds blew across Austin Country Club to 20 mph, which is typical for this time of year in Texas, and Spieth put in a typical performance, beating HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, to remain undefeated entering the final day of pool play.

    The windy conditions were exactly what Spieth, who never trailed in his match, wanted. In fact, demanding conditions factor into how he sets his schedule.

    “I have, and will continue to schedule tournaments away from a dome, because it's just unusual for me. I like having the feel aspect,” said Spieth, who attended the University of Texas and played Austin Country Club in college. “Places with no wind, where it's just driving range shots, it's just never been something I've been used to. So I don't really know what to do on them.”

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    Spieth used the CareerBuilder Challenge as an example. The Coachella Valley event rarely has windy conditions, and as a result he’s never played the tournament.

    “I played in a dome in Phoenix, and I didn't strike the ball well there. Actually I've had quite a few this year, where we didn't have very windy conditions,” said Spieth, who will face Patrick Reed in his final pool play match on Friday. “I don't go to Palm Springs, never have, because of that. Look at where you can take weeks off and if they match up with places that potentially aren't the best for me, then it works out.”