Duval looks to keep momentum in Mexico

By Doug FergusonFebruary 15, 2010, 11:44 pm
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Minus golf’s two biggest stars, the best are headed to the high desert of Arizona. Equally intriguing is what happens south of the border with David Duval, a player who has not been among the best for more than a decade.

The next few weeks could determine whether that can change.

Moments after his runner-up finish at Pebble Beach, Duval climbed into a van with his wife and four of their children as they left one beach resort for another. Next up is the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico, a chance to build on a performance only he saw coming.

David Duval
David Duval is seeking his first PGA Tour win in nine years. (Getty Images)
It had been more than eight years since Duval shot in the 60s every round of a PGA Tour event. And while this is the not the first time he emerged out of nowhere to tie for second – remember the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black nine months ago? – there was something different about Pebble Beach.

Duval opened with a 67 at Spyglass Hill, a course that used to give him fits even in the best of times. Asked if it was the first time he had broken 70 there, Duval responded in a text message, “Yes sir. Big things coming.”

For the rest of the week, his name stayed on the leaderboard.

And for the first time since the 2001 – the year of his last victory – his name was atop the leaderboard as the final group came to the 18th hole of a tournament. That changed when Dustin Johnson made birdie from the bunker for a one-shot victory, joining an elite list of back-to-back winners at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Duval finished more than a half-hour ahead of Johnson and had his own chance at birdie. His wedge came up a few paces short of staying on the tiny shelf, instead rolling down the ridge to the bottom of the green some 30 feet away.

“Any time you’re standing on the last hole with a chance to maybe get in the playoff or win a golf tournament, you have to look at it as a successful, competitive week – period,” he said.

The trick now is to keep going.

Perhaps because he had fallen so far, so much was made of Duval’s tie for second in the U.S. Open. Instead of building on that performance, he took the next two weeks off. In his final eight tournaments, Duval made only one cut and failed to keep his card when he finished 130th on the money list.

It was a small step forward, a big leap back.

At Bethpage Black, it was a matter of making several long putts to keep from sliding down the leaderboard. At Pebble Beach, it was more about the way he hit the ball so consistently over four days. Most putts at Pebble Beach, especially when the conditions are soft and bumpy in February, are almost made by accident.

“I got more satisfaction today out of hitting the golf shots through the course of 18 holes and controlling my golf ball in … somewhat difficult conditions,” Duval said. “Given the circumstances, to do that and to post a decent score, I feel good about that.”

He closed with a 69, one of only seven scores in the 60s in the final round when the pins were tucked, the ocean breeze was stiff and players no longer could lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

Perhaps the most satisfying part was heading to the practice green after he signed his card to stay loose in case there was a playoff, with his two youngest children, Brayden and Sienna, watching from the edge of the green.

Duval earned $545,600 and has essentially the rest of the year to build on a good week.

He is playing primarily on sponsors’ exemptions this year, and while they should be readily available for a player who once was No. 1 in the world, Duval does not take them for granted.

“In a kind of strange way, it makes me proud,” Duval said. “I feel like I have given the folks who have given me starts this year good fire power for why they did it. That makes me feel good, too.”

More important was how he felt inside the ropes as the gap between Duval and the leaders kept shrinking on the back nine. Even as he hit a few errant tee shots down the stretch, Duval managed to escape with pars.

His best shot? A 7-iron to 10 feet on the par-3 17th for a birdie that put him in the game.

It felt like old times, yet when he finished the tournament, he kept his own expectations grounded.

“I feel like I’m getting back on top of everything how I want to,” Duval said. “This is what I expect of myself. I expect to play well. With that said, that doesn’t mean you’re going to have a chance to win every week, but you expect to be in control most of the time with what you’re trying to do.

“I’m just going to go try to hit a lot of fairways in Mexico and hit a lot of greens,” he said. “It’s really a simple recipe. Successful golf is a very simple recipe. I will try to do that again next week.”

 

TOUR Championship Final Round Becomes Most-Watched FedExCup Playoffs Telecast Ever and Most-Watched PGA TOUR Telecast of 2018

By Golf Channel Public RelationsSeptember 25, 2018, 6:48 pm

ORLANDO, Fla., (Sept. 25, 2018) – NBC Sports Group’s final round coverage of the TOUR Championship on Sunday (3:00-6:19 p.m. ET) garnered a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 7.8 million average viewers, as Tiger Woods claimed his 80th career victory, and his first in five years. The telecast’s TAD was up 212% vs. 2017 (2.5m). Television viewership posted 7.18 million average viewers, up 192% YOY (2.46m) and a 4.45 U.S. household rating, up 178% vs. 2017 (1.60). It also becomes the most-watched telecast in the history of the FedExCup Playoffs (2007-2018) and the most-watched PGA TOUR telecast in 2018 (excludes majors).

Coverage peaked from 5:45-6 p.m. ET with 10.84 million average viewers as Woods finished his TOUR Championship-winning round and Justin Rose sealed his season-long victory as the FedExCup champion. The peak viewership number trails only the Masters (16.84m) and PGA Championship (12.39m) in 2018. The extended coverage window (1:30-6:19 p.m. ET) drew 5.89 million average viewers and a 3.69 U.S. household rating to become the most-watched and highest-rated TOUR Championship telecast on record (1991-2018).

Sunday’s final round saw 18.4 million minutes streamed across NBC Sports Digital platforms (+561% year-over-year), and becomes NBC Sports’ most-streamed Sunday round (excluding majors) on record (2013-’18).

Sunday’s lead-in coverage on Golf Channel (11:54 a.m.-1:25 p.m. ET) also garnered a Total Audience Delivery of 829K average viewers and posted a .56 U.S. household rating, becoming the most-watched and highest rated lead-in telecast of the TOUR Championship ever (2007-2018). Golf Channel was the No. 2 Sports Network during this window and No. 7 out of all Nielsen-rated cable networks during that span.

 This week, NBC Sports Group will offer weeklong coverage of the biennial Ryder Cup from Le Golf National outside of Paris. Live From the Ryder Cup continues all week on Golf Channel, surrounding nearly 30 hours of NBC Sports’ Emmy-nominated live event coverage, spanning from Friday morning’s opening tee shot just after 2 a.m. ET through the clinching point on Sunday. The United States will look to retain the Ryder Cup after defeating Europe in 2016 (17-11), and aim to win for the first time on European soil in 25 years, since 1993.

 

-NBC Sports Group-

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Tiger Woods names his Mount Rushmore of golf

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 25, 2018, 6:29 pm
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Mickelson savoring his (likely) last road game

By Rex HoggardSeptember 25, 2018, 3:49 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Phil Mickelson lingered behind as his foursome made its way to the ninth tee during Tuesday’s practice round.

He needed the extra practice, no doubt. He’s one of just six players on the U.S. Ryder Cup team with even a modicum of knowledge about Le Golf National, but the likely reason for Lefty’s leisurely tempo was more personal.

The 2019 Ryder Cup will likely be Mickelson’s last road game as a player.

He’ll be 52 when the U.S. team pegs it up at the 2022 matches in Rome. Although there’s been players who have participated in the biennial event into their golden years – most notably Raymond Floyd who was 51 when he played the ’93 matches – given Mickelson’s play in recent years and the influx of younger players the odds are against him.

“I am aware this is most likely the last one on European soil and my last opportunity to be part of a team that would be victorious here, and that would mean a lot to me personally,” Mickelson said on Tuesday.

It’s understandable that Mickelson would want to linger a little longer in the spotlight of golf’s most intense event.

For the first time in his Ryder Cup career Mickelson needed to be a captain's pick, and he didn’t exactly roar into Paris, finishing 30th out of 30 players at last week’s Tour Championship. He’s also four months removed from his last top-10 finish on the PGA Tour.


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Although he’s reluctant to admit it for Mickelson Le Golf National looks every bit a swansong for the most accomplished U.S. Ryder Cup player of his generation.

In 11 starts at the Ryder Cup, Mickelson has a 26-16-13 record. Perhaps more telling is his 7-3-1 mark since 2012 and he holds the U.S. record for most matches played (45) and is third on the all-time list for most points won (21.5), just two shy of the record held by Billy Casper.

Mickelson’s record will always be defined by what he’s done at the Masters and not done at the U.S. Open, but his status as an anchor for two generations of American teams may never be matched.

For this U.S. team - which is trying to win a road Ryder Cup for the first time since 1993 - Lefty is wearing many hats.

“You know Phil and you know he's always trying to find a way to poke fun, trying to mess with someone,” Furyk said. “He's telling a story. Sometimes you're not sure if they are true or not. Sometimes there's little bits of pieces in each of those, but he provides some humor, provides some levity.”

But there is another side to Mickelson’s appeal in the team room. Although he’s never held the title of vice captain he’s served as a de facto member of the management for some time.

“At the right times, he understands when a team needs a kick in the butt or they need an arm around their shoulder, and he's been good in that atmosphere,” Furyk said. “He's a good speaker and good motivator, and he's been able to take some young players under his wing at times and really get a lot out of them from a partner standpoint.”

In recent years Mickelson has become something of a mentor for young players, first at the ’08 matches with Anthony Kim and again in ’12 with Keegan Bradley.

His role as a team leader in the twilight of his career can’t be overstated and will undoubtedly continue this week if Tuesday’s practice groupings are any indication, with Lefty playing with rookie Bryson DeChambeau.

As DeChambeau was finishing his press conference on Tuesday he was asked about the dynamic in the U.S. team room.

“We're going to try and do our absolute best to get the cup back,” he said.

“Keep the cup,” Lefty shouted from the back of the room, noting that the U.S. won the last Ryder Cup.

It was so Mickelson not to miss a teaching moment or a chance to send a subtle jab delivered with a wry smile.

Mickelson will also be remembered for his role in what has turned out to be an American Ryder Cup resurgence.

“Unfortunately, we have strayed from a winning formula in 2008 for the last three Ryder Cups, and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best,” Mickelson said in the Scottish gloom at the ’14 matches. “Nobody here was in any decision.”

If Mickelson doesn’t step to the microphone in ’14 at Gleneagles in the wake of another U.S. loss and, honestly, break some china there probably wouldn’t have been a task force. Davis Love III likely wouldn’t have gotten a second turn as captain in ’16 and the U.S. is probably still mired in a victory drought.

Lefty’s Ryder Cup career is far from over. The early line is that he’ll take his turn as captain in 2024 at Bethpage Black – the People’s Champion riding in to become the People’s Captain.

Before he moves on to a new role, however, he’ll savor this week and an opportunity to win his first road game. If he wants to hang back and relish the moment so be it.

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DeChambeau gets foursomes, fourball mixed up

By Will GraySeptember 25, 2018, 3:31 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Bryson DeChambeau is an accomplished player when it comes to match play, having captured the U.S. Amateur and starred on a Walker Cup team. But don’t ask him to explain the semantic difference between the formats in play at this week’s Ryder Cup.

DeChambeau became crossed up Tuesday at Le Golf National when he was asked about the intricacies of foursomes play – better known to many Americans as alternate shot.

“Fourball, foursomes, I always get those mixed up,” DeChambeau said. “It’s just easier for me to say alternate shot.”


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Thankfully for DeChambeau, he still has some time to make a distinction between the two before the matches begin in earnest. And when they do, it’ll be fourballs for the morning sessions both Friday and Saturday, with foursomes in the afternoon – a change from the 2016 matches when DeChambeau was on the grounds at Hazeltine as a spectator.

While the foursomes format brings with it added pressure in an already tense environment, one of the biggest concerns is how well players can adjust to using the ball of their partner on a given hole. DeChambeau is known to leave nothing to chance in his preparation, and he’s already circled that particular factor as he gets set to make his Ryder Cup debut.

“It’s key because we want to be comfortable. Each player needs to be comfortable with the ball that they are playing,” DeChambeau said. “So for compatibility reasons, it’s one of the most important things out there in regards to alternate shot. It is the most important.”