Duval battles through 'gigantic financial hit'

By Doug FergusonJuly 31, 2012, 7:28 pm

AKRON, Ohio – About the only thing that comes easily for David Duval these days is the ability to find perspective.

Duval was talking late Monday night about the ''gigantic financial hit'' he has taken from the real estate collapse, the solution he worked out with the bank over money owed on his home in the Denver suburb of Cherry Hills Village and the strain it has caused during another tough year on the golf course.

He wanted to make clear that his house, which he has been trying to sell for several years, is not in foreclosure. He did not want to explain negotiations with the bank in detail because those talks are private. He also wanted to point out that he was among thousands, if not millions, who made real estate investments that turned sour during the crash.

His outlook was not unusual. Duval never considered himself different from anyone else, in good times or bad.

The high was when he reached No. 1 in the world and was the toughest rival Tiger Woods ever had. Everyone has a success story. The low point came at age 9, when he went through a painful bone marrow donation in a futile attempt to keep his brother, Brent, from dying of aplastic anemia. Harsh times, no doubt, but as he looked back on such a dark period in his life, he reasoned that his was not the only family coping with tragedy.

Where did he develop this perspective?

The question triggered memories Duval had not thought about for longer than he can remember.

''A few things entered my mind, and they had to do with people I met when Brent was in the hospital,'' he said. ''I think back to when I was there with Brent and somebody tried to mug me in the play room. I was 9 years old. I had $12 in my pocket. And he had me pinned up against the wall choking me. ... It's weird. I haven't thought about that in probably 20 years.''

The significance of the story?

''I think it's about self-preservation,'' Duval said. ''That's when I dealt with Brent and my family and the things we were going through. That's when I learned a lot about what shaped who I am. We were just down in a game room playing pool with another kid, having fun, and then the dynamic changed. And I was like, 'No, you can't do this. I'm not allowing you to do this to me.'

''And by the way,'' he added, ''he didn't get my money.''

That story was about $12.

Now it's about a mansion that TMZ reported was worth just over $12 million when Duval bought it in 2005.

Maybe that's the good news for Duval. He's still relevant enough to get the attention of a celebrity website. He was more irritated about a local television station that he said broadcast the story without ever trying to contact him.

''I don't think of myself as a public figure, and I guess this makes me realize I still am,'' he said.

He has not been getting much attention for his golf. His last win was the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan at the end of 2001. The last time he contended was two years ago in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, when Dustin Johnson made birdie on the last hole for a one-shot victory. He has made only two cuts in 15 tournaments this year, and his best round is a 69. He has done that twice.

Some of that is related to injuries, which have plagued him over the last decade. He revealed at the British Open that he had bone bruises in his knee, so painful that he planned to take a walking seat to the Reno-Tahoe Open so he could sit down between shots if necessary.

More of it likely is due to the stress of financial problems at home.

''It's been a very big distraction,'' Duval said. ''I have the weight of this on me.''

His wife, Susie, likes to be on the road with him and their children - Brayden and Sienna, along with three children from her previous marriage. She has been dealing with the bank and the home and hasn't gone to a tournament with Duval since New Orleans the last week in April. That was the last time Duval made the cut.

''This kind of thing can break us or hold us together, and we're tighter than ever,'' Duval said. ''We're more in love than ever. It's a hugely stressful time, especially when information is out there that's inaccurate. She's been an angel. I think she's the greatest thing ever. She's my hero. I tell her that every day.''

These would not seem to be the best of times.

After Reno, Duval is playing in two weeks in Greensboro, N.C., and then will have a month off before getting into whatever Fall Series events he can with hopes of finding something in his game, or at least making a few putts to get him pointed in the right direction.

He and his family have moved out of his home and found another place they are renting. The kids are still in the same school district. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, though Duval would not say how bright it was.

''We have taken a gigantic financial hit through real estate problems,'' he said. ''We've been severely hurt - like a lot of people. I imagine there's a thousand people in Denver that are hurt just as bad, but it's not reported on. That's the public figure thing. We have diligently engaged the bank for months. We have a resolution. They're happy with it, we're happy with it. And we're moving forward.''

Perspective, as always, is easy to find.

As he spoke on the phone, he said his son was watching the Olympics. His daughter had fallen asleep in her mother's lap. They were healthy and happy in a city devastated by the deaths from a gunman at a movie theater about 15 minutes from where they live.

''My niece went to a memorial today for one of the victims,'' he said. ''Deano, he's been to that theater 30 times. My little girl is asleep. I'm going to wake up tomorrow and go to Reno and play some great golf. I couldn't be happier.''

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Recovering Thomas thinks Match Play could help cause

By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 10:07 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – It’s been a tough couple of days for Justin Thomas, and he hasn’t played an event in three weeks.

The world’s second-ranked player had his wisdom teeth removed on March 7 following the WGC-Mexico Championship and has been recovering ever since.

“I'm feeling OK. As funny as it is, as soon as I got over my wisdom teeth, I got a little strep throat,” Thomas said on Tuesday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. “I was pretty worried yesterday, to be honest, how I was going to be doing, but I feel a lot better today and just keep taking medicine and hopefully it will be good.”

Thomas, who is listed in the Tour media guide as 5-foot-10, 145 pounds, said he lost about 6 pounds when he had his wisdom teeth removed and has struggled to put that weight back on because of his bout with strep throat.

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As a result, his energy levels are low, which is a particular concern considering the marathon nature of the Match Play, which could include as many as seven rounds if he were to advance to Sunday’s championship match. Thomas, however, said the format could actually make things easier this week.

“I told my dad, I only have to beat one person each day. I don't have to beat the whole field,” said Thomas, who has won just one match in two starts at the Match Play. “If it was stroke play then I may have a little harder time. But hopefully each day I'll get better and better. Who knows, maybe that will help me win a match in this golf tournament, because I've had a pretty hard time in the past.”

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Spieth thought Mickelson blew him off as a kid

By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 7:50 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Phil Mickelson is widely recognized as one of the PGA Tour’s most accommodating players when it comes to the fans and signing autographs.

Lefty will famously spend hours after rounds signing autographs, but sometimes perception can deviate from reality, as evidenced by Jordan Spieth’s encounter with Mickelson years ago when he was a junior golfer.

“I think I was at the [AT&T] Byron Nelson with my dad and Phil Mickelson and Davis Love were on the putting green. I was yelling at them, as I now get annoyed while I'm practicing when I'm getting yelled at, and they were talking,” Spieth recalled. “When they finished, Phil was pulled off in a different direction and Davis came and signed for me. And I thought for the longest time that Phil just blew me off. And Davis was like the nicest guy. And Phil, I didn't care for as much for a little while because of that.”

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Entering his sixth full season on Tour, Spieth now has a drastically different perspective on that day.

“[Mickelson] could have been late for media. He could have been having a sponsor obligation. He could have been going over to sign for a kid’s area where there was a hundred of them,” Spieth said. “There's certainly been kids that probably think I've blown them off, too, which was never my intention. It would have never been Phil's intention either.”

Spieth said he has spoken with Mickelson about the incident since joining the Tour.

“He probably responded with a Phil-like, ‘Yeah, I knew who you were, and I didn't want to go over there and sign it,’ something like that,” Spieth laughed. “I’ve gotten to see him in person and really see how genuine he is with everybody he comes in contact with. Doesn't matter who it is. And he's a tremendous role model and I just wasn't aware back then.”

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This week, let the games(manship) begin

By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 7:47 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – The gentleman’s game is almost entirely devoid of anything even approaching trash talk or gamesmanship.

What’s considered the norm in other sports is strictly taboo in golf - at least that’s the standard for 51 weeks out of the year. That anomaly, however, can be wildly entertaining.

During Monday’s blind draw to determine this week’s 16 pods, Pat Perez was the first to suggest that this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play is the exception to the stoic rule on the PGA Tour.

“Me and Branden [Grace] played a nine-hole match today and were chirping at each other the entire time,” Perez laughed. “Stuff like, ‘go in the trees.’ We were laughing about it, I didn’t get mad, I hit it in the trees.”

Although Perez and Grace may have been on the extreme end of the trash-talk spectrum, it’s widely understood that unlike the steady diet of stroke-play stops in professional golf, the Match Play and the Ryder Cup are both chances to test some of the game’s boundaries.

“There’s been a couple of different instances, both in the Ryder Cup. I can't share them with you, I'm sorry,” laughed Jordan Spieth, before adding. “I think they [the comments] were indifferent to me and helped [U.S. partner Patrick Reed].

Often the gamesmanship is subtle, so much so an opponent probably doesn’t even realize what’s happening.

Jason Day, for example, is a two-time winner of this event and although he was reluctant to go into details about all of his “tricks,” he did explain his mindset if he finds himself trailing in a match.

“Always walk forward in front of the person that you're playing against, just so you're letting them know that you're pushing forward and you're also letting them know that you're still hanging around,” Day explained. “People feed off body language. If I'm looking across and the guy's got his shoulders slumped and his head is down, you can tell he's getting frustrated, that's when you push a little bit harder.”

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Some moments are not so innocent, as evidenced by a story from Paul Casey from a match during his junior days growing up in England.

“I remember a player’s ball was very close to my line, as his coin was very close to my line and we were still both about 10 feet away and he kind of looked at me,” Casey recalled. “I assumed he looked at me to confirm whether his marker was in my line and it needed to be moved. I said, ‘That's OK there.’ So he picked [his coin] up. And then of course he lost his ability to understand English all of a sudden.”

While the exploits this week won’t be nearly as egregious, there have been a handful of heated encounters at the Match Play. In 2015 when this event was played at Harding Park in San Francisco, Keegan Bradley and Miguel Angel Jimenez went nose to nose when the Spaniard attempted to intervene in a ruling that Bradley was taking and the incident even spilled over into the locker room after the match.

But if those types of encounters are rare, there’s no shortage of mind games that will take place over the next few days at Austin Country Club.

“It's part of it. It should be fun,” Spieth said. “There should be some gamesmanship. That's the way it is in every other sport, we just never play one-on-one or team versus team like other sports do. That's why at times it might seem way out of the ordinary. If every tournament were match play, I don't think that would be unusual.”

It also helps heat things up if opponents have some history together. On Tuesday, Rory McIlroy was asked if he’s run across any gamesmanship at the Match Play. While the Northern Irishman didn’t think there would be much trash talking going on this week, he did add with a wry smile, “Patrick Reed isn’t in my bracket.”

McIlroy and Reed went head-to-head in an epic singles duel at the 2016 Ryder Cup, which the American won 1 up. The duo traded plenty of clutch shots during the match, with Reed wagging his finger at McIlroy following a particularly lengthy birdie putt and McIlroy spurring the crowd with roars of, “I can’t hear you.”

It was an example of how chippy things can get at the Match Play that when McIlroy was asked if he had any advice for Spieth, who drew Reed in his pod this week, his answer had a bit of a sharp edge.

“Don't ask for any drops,” laughed McIlroy, a not-so-subtle reference to Reed’s comment last week at Bay Hill after being denied free relief by a rules official, “I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth, guys,” Reed said on Sunday.

Put another way, this is not your grandfather’s game. This is the Match Play where trash talking and gamesmanship are not only acceptable, but can also be extremely entertaining.

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Romo set to make PGA Tour debut at Punta Cana

By Will GrayMarch 20, 2018, 6:43 pm

While much of the attention in golf this week will be focused on the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Tony Romo may send a few eyeballs toward the Caribbean.

The former quarterback and current CBS NFL analyst will make his PGA Tour debut this week, playing on a sponsor invite at the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic. The exemption was announced last month when Romo played as an amateur at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and he's apparently been hard at work ever since.

"I'll be treating it very serious," Romo told reporters Tuesday. "My wife will tell you she hasn't seen me much over the last month. But if you know me at all, I think you know if I care about something I'm going to commit to it 100 percent. So like I said. you'll get the best I've got this week."

Romo retired from the NFL last year and plays to a plus-0.3 handicap. In addition to his participation in the Pebble Beach event, he has tried to qualify for the U.S. Open multiple times and last month played a North Texas PGA mini-tour event as an amateur.

According to Romo, one of the key differences between pro football and golf is the fact that his former position is entirely about reactive decisions, while in golf "you're trying to commit wholeheartedly before you ever pull the club out of your bag."

"I'm not worried about getting hit before I hit the ball," Romo said. "It's at my own tempo, my own speed, in this sport. Sometimes that's difficult, and sometimes that's easier depending on the situation."

Romo admitted that he would have preferred to have a couple extra weeks to prepare, but recently has made great strides in his wedge game which "was not up to any Tour standard." The first-tee jitters can't be avoided, but Romo hopes to settle in after battling nerves for the first three or four holes Thursday.

Romo hopes to derive an added comfort factor from his golf in the Dallas area, where he frequently plays with a group of Tour pros. While Steph Curry traded texts with a few pros before his tournament debut last summer on the Web.com Tour, Romo expects his phone to remain silent until he puts a score on the board.

"I think they're waiting to either tell me 'Congrats' or 'I knew it, terrible,'" Romo said. "Something along those lines. They're probably going to wait to see which way the wind's blowing before they send them."

Romo will tee off at 8:10 a.m. ET Thursday alongside Dru Love and Denny McCarthy.