Notes: Duval tries to get healthy and revive career

By Doug FergusonJanuary 8, 2013, 5:56 pm

KAPALUA, Hawaii – David Duval spent his first full season of professional golf in the minor leagues, finishing No. 8 on what was then the Nike Tour money list to earn his PGA Tour card. Nearly 20 years later, after a career in which he has won a major, a PGA Tour money title and was No. 1 in the world, Duval is willing to go back.

Duval still doesn't know where he will start his 2013 season, but he figures it will be a year like no other. Duval's only status is as a past champion. His only mission is to start his season next year in Hawaii, whether that's the Hyundai Tournament of Champions or the Sony Open in Hawaii with full status.

''My wife is excited, I'm excited,'' Duval said over the weekend. ''It's going to be a different year with me the way things have changed for exemptions. I've made it clear that this year is about getting healthy and getting status.''

Duval has endured a number of injuries, the latest a broken toe that kept him from going back to Q-School. He did not return until the Father-Son Challenge last month.

Most tournaments have had their unrestricted sponsor exemptions cut in half to two because the Tour is trying to create space for players in a short season.

Duval was disappointed to learn Monday he had been turned down for an exemption to the Humana Challenge, where he delivered one of the most famous moments in tournament history when he shot 59 on the final day to win what was then the Bob Hope Classic. He remains hopeful to get an exemption for Torrey Pines, though he is not standing on the street corner holding out his hat.

His plan is to play – anywhere.

''If I have to go play somewhere, I'll go to the Web.com Tour, too,'' Duval said. ''I'd like to get in that four-week series at the end of the year.''

There are two ways to get into the ''Finals'' to earn back his card – finish from No. 126 to No. 200 in the FedEx Cup points, or be in the top 75 on the Web.com Tour money list. Then, it's a money list built on four $1 million purses with 25 cards available.

''You don't want to count on charity from other people to play,'' Duval said, referring to PGA Tour exemptions. ''You have to a little, but I'm going to play where I need to play to be in Hawaii next year.''

Meanwhile, Duval is returning to Nike, but he left vague specifics of any deal. He was the first player to win a major using Nike Golf clubs in 2001 at the British Open. ''I will be playing all Nike this year. New covert driver, ball, wedges, etc.'' he said on Twitter.

''I'm going to be with them again,'' Duval said when asked about a deal. ''I haven't signed anything. We've agreed to move forward, is the best way to put it.''

Duval then headed out to practice at home in Denver. He said he has been working all winter, even if that means hitting balls in his garage when it's cold. He even jokingly inquired about the three-sided trailer Steve Stricker uses in Wisconsin.

''It's up to me to be ready to play,'' he said.


WORKING VACATION: Most players head to Augusta National in the weeks before the Masters. Brandt Snedeker is planning ahead. He's going to Merion.

Snedeker said he has a friend who is a member at Merion and has been trying to line up a golf trip for some time, so this seemed like a good year with Merion hosting the U.S. Open for the first time since 1981.

''I've just got a trip with some guys, going up there and play, just a way to get up and see the golf course so I'm not shocked when I get to the U.S. Open,'' Snedeker said. ''Merion is not a bomber's paradise. I think they are set up for guys like me who dink it around and keep it in play and don't do anything stupid.''

The plan is to go at the end of March, but it's possible Snedeker might wait until after The Masters. He'll also get in a round at Pine Valley, while in the neighborhood.

''We set it up as a way to go up there and have some fun and also a way for me to get some work done,'' he said. ''So it worked out great. It's a rough trip, but somebody has got to do it.''


PLAYERS AND THEIR PUTTERS: Stricker tried a new putter at the World Challenge last month and said he liked it. But when he arrived at Kapalua, he had the same Odyssey putter he's been using for years. Even the metal tape on the bottom looks old.

The same can't be said of so many other players, some of whom switch putters once a month. Hunter Mahan might not fit into that category, but his story from last year shows how long of a shelf life a winning putter gets.

He switched to a different putter at the Accenture Match Play Championship, beating Rory McIlroy in the final match. And that putter stayed in the bag the rest of the year, right?

''No,'' Mahan said. ''I went to a shorter putter for Houston ... and then won in Houston. So it's kind of funny. I switched putters twice last year – before Match Play and won and then switched putters before Houston and won.''

The lesson here?

''I guess it's not the putter,'' he said. ''I guess that's what that tells you.''

Maybe he should consider changing putters every week, particularly at the majors.

''Believe me,'' Mahan said, ''that's crossed my mind.''


GWAA AWARDS: Former U.S. Golf Association executive director David Fay has been selected to receive the William D. Richardson Award from the Golf Writers Association of America, which goes to individuals who have consistently made contributions to golf.

Fay spent 32 years at the USGA, the last 21 as the executive director. He is one of the foremost authorities on the Rules of Golf and was in the broadcast booth during the U.S. Open with his wit and bow tie. Fay also was a proponent of making golf more accessible to the public. He was behind the U.S. Open going to public courses (Bethpage Black, Torrey Pines), and years ago, he resigned his membership at all-male Pine Valley when the single-gender courses became a flashpoint for criticism.

The GWAA also voted LPGA star Laura Davies of England for its Jim Murray Award, given to tour players for their relationship and cooperation with the media.

The Ben Hogan Award, given to those who remain active in golf despite a physical handicap or serious illness, went to blind golfer David Meador, who is a three-time National Blind Golf Championship winner. Meador was a freshman at Southern Illinois in 1966 when he lost his eyesight. He is the third blind golfer to win the Hogan Award.

They will join the GWAA players of the year – Rory McIlroy, Stacy Lewis and Roger Chapman – in being honored at the GWAA Awards Dinner April 10 in Augusta, Ga.


DIVOTS: International Sports Management is backing a new tournament for The Big Easy Tour, a feeder program for the Sunshine Tour in South Africa. Chubby Chandler is the head of ISM, whose stable includes South African stars like Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace ... The Tournament of Champions had eight of the top 20 players in the world ranking. But only two of those players – Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley – signed up for the Sony Open next week in Honolulu. ... Jimmy Roberts, a 13-time Emmy winner with NBC Sports, is starting a monthly series of stories to be called, ''In Play With Jimmy Roberts.''


STAT OF THE WEEK: The previous three winners of the season-opening Tournament of Champions – Stricker, Jonathan Byrd and Geoff Ogilvy – did not win another PGA Tour event the rest of the year.


FINAL WORD: ''Johnny Miller might think I've well overachieved. But in my eyes, I've underachieved. I don't think I've done enough.'' – Ian Poulter.

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Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”

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Harrington: Fiery Carnoustie evokes Hoylake in '06

By Ryan LavnerJuly 16, 2018, 3:45 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – One course came to mind when Padraig Harrington arrived on property and saw a firm, fast and yellow Carnoustie.

Hoylake in 2006.

That's when Tiger Woods avoided every bunker, bludgeoned the links with mid-irons and captured the last of his three Open titles.

So Harrington was asked: Given the similarity in firmness between Carnoustie and Hoylake, can Tiger stir the ghosts this week?


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I really don’t know,” Harrington said Monday. “He’s good enough to win this championship, no doubt about it. I don’t think he could play golf like the way he did in 2006. Nobody else could have tried to play the golf course the way he did, and nobody else could have played the way he did. I suspect he couldn’t play that way now, either. But I don’t know if that’s the strategy this week, to lay up that far back.”

With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?

“The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”