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 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 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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Kim's missing clubs show up at sporting goods store

By Will GrayMarch 22, 2018, 1:58 pm

More than a month after they were lost on an American Airlines flight, the clubs I.K. Kim used to win last year's Ricoh Women's British Open turned up on the sale rack of a California sporting goods store.

Kim's clubs became lost in late January when she flew from Miami to San Diego, with the airline suggesting she simply rent a new set. A few weeks later, Kim shot a "What's in the bag" television segment which according to a Golfweek report caught the eye of three good samaritans in the San Diego area.

The three men recognized Kim's clubs for sale at a local Play It Again Sports, with the major winner's tools listed at $60 each. The store even had Kim's tour bag, complete with her LPGA player badge. Kim filmed the reunion with her bag - containing wedges and a few hybrids, minus the head covers - at the Carlsbad police station:

Kim was back in southern California this week for the Kia Classic, where she'll begin play Thursday morning at Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad.

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New dad Garcia removes shoes, wins match

By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 12:48 am

AUSTIN, Texas – In one of the day’s most explosive matches, Sergio Garcia rolled in an 8-footer for birdie at the 18th hole to defeat Shubhankar Sharma, 1 up, at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

The duo halved just nine holes on Day 1 at Austin Country Club, with Garcia going from 2 up through four holes to 1 down with five holes to play.

But the Spaniard rallied with five birdies over his final eight holes and pushed his record to 20-17-1 in the Match Play. He also gave himself his best chance to advance out of pool play since the format began in 2015.

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The victory continued what has already been a memorable week for Garcia, whose wife, Angela, gave birth to the couple’s first child last Wednesday.

“I already feel like I’m a winner after what happened on Wednesday,” Garcia said. “Obviously, it's something that we're so, so happy and proud of and enjoying it as much as possible.”

The highlight of Garcia’s round on Wednesday came at the 12th hole when he took a drop on a cart path. After considering his options, he removed his shoes and hit his approach from 212 yards to 29 feet for a two-putt birdie to halve the hole.

“I have spikes. So if I don't take my shoes off, I'm going to slip. It's not the kind of shot that you want to slip,” Garcia said. “I had tried it a couple of times on practice swings and I was already slipping a little bit. So I thought I would just take my shoes off, try to get a little bit in front of the hole and it came out great.”

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On a wild Wednesday, DJ, Rory, Phil saved by the pool

By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 12:39 am

AUSTIN, Texas – Call it black Wednesday, but then the one-and-done aspect of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was dulled three years ago with the introduction of round-robin play that assures every player at least three matches in pool play.

Otherwise Wednesday at Austin Country Club would go down as one of the championship’s darkest hours for the top of the dance card. In order, world No. 1 and defending champion Dustin Johnson dropped his Day 1 match, 3 and 1, to world No. 56 Bernd Wiesberger; last week’s winner Rory McIlroy lost to PGA Tour rookie Peter Uihlein, 2 and 1, and Phil Mickelson, the winner of the last WGC in Mexico, dropped a 3-and-2 decision to Charles Howell III.

All told, 11 lower-seeded players pulled off “upsets” on Wednesday, although it’s widely held that the Match Play is more prone to these types of underdog performances than the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

But if it wasn’t March Madness, it was at the least March Mayhem, particularly for those who shuffled around Austin Country Club in a state of mild confusion.

Although there were plenty of matches that went according to plan – with top-seeded players Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Hideki Matsuyama and Sergio Garcia all winning – it was still a tough day for chalk with three of the top 10 players in the world ranking either losing or halving (world No. 3 Jon Rahm halved his duel with Keegan Bradley) their matches.

At least McIlroy made things interesting after finding himself 5 down through 13 holes. The Northern Irishman played his last six holes in 5 under par to push the match to the 17th hole, but Uihlein closed out the bout with a par.

“If he birdies seven straight on you, hats off to him. It is what it is,” Uihlein said of McIlroy’s late surge. “I felt like if I just kind of kept giving myself a chance, I didn't want to give him any holes. He made me earn it, so hats off to it.”

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Johnson couldn’t say the same thing.

After not trailing in any match on his way to victory at last year’s Match Play, Johnson hit a ball in the water, two out of bounds (on the same hole, no less) and began to fade when he made a double bogey-5 at the 11th hole. Although scoring is always skewed at the Match Play because of conceded putts, Johnson was listed at 9 over through 17 holes before his day came to a merciful end.

“We both didn't have a great day. I think we only made three birdies between us, which is not a lot out here,” Wiesberger said. “Obviously it wasn't his best day. It wasn't the best of my days. I think we both have to do a little bit of work this afternoon.”

Although not as scrappy as Johnson’s round, Mickelson has also seen better days. Lefty made just a single birdie and played 17 holes in even par to lose just his second match in pool play.

But then this event hasn’t exactly been kind to Lefty, who has advanced to the weekend just twice in 13 starts.

“I was fortunate today, obviously, to get past him,” said Howell, who is the second-lowest seeded player to advance out of pool play when he did it in 2017 as the 61st player in the field. “But with this pod play the way it goes now, you never know. You've got to keep playing good. Last WGC we had, he won. So he's never out of it.”

That will be the solace those high-profile players who find themselves on the wrong side of the round-robin ledger now cling to. There is a path back.

Since pool play began, just four players have lost their Day 1 matches and went on to win their group. One of those players is Johnson, who lost to Robert Streb on Wednesday in 2016 but still advanced to the quarterfinals.

But if that helps ease the sting for those who now embrace the Match Play mulligan, it did little to quiet the crowds on what turned out to be a wild Wednesday.