Duvals Big Question - What Will Happen in 2004
Not so long ago, Duval was the best golfer in the world. In 1998 and early 1999, he won eight times and was the No. 1-ranked player for 15 straight weeks. Tiger Woods was still just Woods, not Tiger. There was no Ernie, no Vijay, no one to challenge Duvals dominance.
But Duval was about to hit the skids. And when he self-destructed, he really self-destructed. Oh, Lee Westwood may have rivaled it somewhat, but this year Westwood pulled out of that terrible tailspin. Duval goes into this season still wondering when will it end?
As late as 2001, he was still pretty competitive. In that year, he won the British Open. However, the nagging injuries began slowly popping up. There was a five-week layoff early in the year when tendonitis inflamed his left wrist. He has always had problems with a tender back. And in 2002, the trickle of bad news became a torrent.
First, he and his longtime girlfriend ended their relationship after eight years. As could be expected, the breakup was a mental setback of immense proportions. Then the following week, Duval hurt his right shoulder. The downhill slide had already begun ' and as we know, practice makes permanent, not actually perfect, Duval said. That is, if you are practicing with faulty moves, those faulty moves soon begin to feel like the right moves. The train was about to leave the station.
I was making a lot of compensatory moves for my back, my wrist, he said during a Golf Channel appearance late in 2003. So through the course of that, Im ingraining a bad setup, bad address position, a bad takeaway. Those kinds of things are hard to get out of.
Vertigo the wrist the shoulder the back the romance what else could go wrong?
He fell to No. 44 in the world in 2002, then to 238th by the end of 2003. In 2003, he was so lost that he made only four of 20 cuts. Could things have been much worse?
Hes exempt through 2006 with his British Open victory, so he still has plenty of time. But there has to be that little whisper of a doubt ' will he ever regain it? And the question is, can he once again remember what it felt like in 98 and 99 when he was steadily rolling up the victories? If he can find that feeling of a near-perfect golf swing ' great! If he cant .
Duval has earned well over $20 mil in paydays and endorsements. He is in no danger of missing a meal or a house payment for the rest of his life, even if he never makes another penny from the game. But what if, at age 32, he finally found it impossible to play? What would he do to occupy the hours in the day?
Duval looks at Westwood and realizes that golf is a fickle game indeed ' one day you are absolutely without a clue as to how to play, then one day it starts to come back and suddenly you win again ' and again. Until that time comes, he will keep searching for the swing he had in 1999.
It's times like these when you find out what type of impact you have, you know, he said. And it's times like these when I feel most responsible to act like a professional.
It's easy to act that way when you're winning golf tournaments, finishing high on the money list, and conduct yourself in a proper manner. It's hard when you're shooting 83. But that's when you need to do it most.
David Duval isnt one of the names mentioned when the 2004 Ryder Cup is being discussed. He isnt being touted as a potential winner at Atlanta or Memorial or the Players Championship. No one can see him shooting 59 again at the Hope ' which he did in 99. If he is on somebodys comeback list for this year, it is purely through faith and an eye to 98-99 when he swung so effortlessly and won so easily.
I said, I'm a lucky man. I've achieved a lot of things. I've played for 10 years now and I've had eight and a half, nine great years, he noted.
Unfortunately in this game, you know, you can't choose your obstacles. In this life you can't choose your obstacles. So I have some pretty good obstacles to overcome at this moment.
Sounds like life will go on, regardless of whether his golf game is world-caliber or not. He wants to regain it, feels certain he will regain it, but if by some chance he doesnt, he will simply move on to something else. Maybe he will be Lee Westwood. Maybe he will be Ian Baker-Finch.
Its just golf, he says. Im damn lucky. Ive got a great life. Nobody wants to believe that. Im not playing good golf right now, but it doesnt define my life.
We assume he will start the season with a clean bill of health and a settled personal life. We hope we can assume a return to prominence of the PGA Tour. But if thats not possible, Duval is more than willing to settle for a happy remainder of his life.
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Van Rooyen holes putt after ball-marker ruling
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Erik van Rooyen was surveying his 10-footer for par, trying to get a feel for the putt, when his putter slipped out of his hand and dropped onto his ball marker.
The question, then, was whether that accident caused his coin to move.
The rules official looked at various camera angles but none showed definitively whether his coin moved. The ruling was made to continue from where his coin was now positioned, with no penalty.
This was part of the recent rules changes, ensuring there is no penalty if the ball or ball maker is accidently moved by the player. The little-used rule drew attention in 2010, when Ian Poulter accidentally dropped his ball on his marker in Dubai and wound up losing more than $400,000 in bonus and prize money.
After the delay to sort out his ruling Friday, van Rooyen steadied himself and made the putt for par, capping a day in which he shot even-par 71 and kept himself in the mix at The Open. He was at 4-under 138, just two shots off the clubhouse lead.
“I wanted to get going and get this 10-footer to save par, but I think having maybe just a couple minutes to calm me down, and then I actually got a different read when I sat down and looked at it again,” he said. “Good putt. Happy to finish that way.”
Lyle birdies last hole in likely his final Open start
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – If this was Sandy Lyle’s final Open appearance, he went out in style.
Playing on the final year of his automatic age exemption, the 60-year-old Scot buried a 30-foot birdie on the last hole. He missed the cut after shooting 9-over 151 over two rounds.
“I was very light-footed,” he said. “I was on cloud nine walking down the 18th. To make birdie was extra special.”
Lyle, who also won the 1988 Masters, has missed the cut in his last eight majors, dating to 2014. He hasn’t been competitive in The Open since 1998, when he tied for 19th.
To continue playing in The Open, Lyle needed to finish in the top 10 here at Carnoustie. He’d earn a future exemption by winning the Senior British Open.
“More punishment,” he said.
DJ, Thomas miss cut at Open; No. 1 up for grabs
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The top two players in the world both missed the cut at The Open, creating the possibility of a shakeup at the top of the rankings by the end of the weekend.
Dustin Johnson became the first world No. 1 since Luke Donald in 2011 to miss the cut at the year’s third major.
Johnson played solidly for all but the closing stretch. Over two rounds, he was 6 over par on the last three holes. He finished at 6-over 148.
Thomas added to what’s been a surprisingly poor Open record. Just like last year, when he struggled in the second round in the rain at Royal Birkdale, Thomas slumped to a 77 on Friday at Carnoustie, a round that included three consecutive double bogeys on Nos. 6-8. He finished at 4-over 146.
It’s Thomas' first missed cut since The Open last year. Indeed, in three Open appearances, he has two missed cuts and a tie for 53rd.
With Johnson and Thomas out of the mix, the No. 1 spot in the rankings is up for grabs this weekend.
Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm all can reach No. 1 with a victory this week.
TT Postscript: Woods (71) makes cut, has work to do
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Here are a few things I think I think after Tiger Woods shot a second consecutive even-par 71 Friday in the second round. And yes, he made the cut:
• Tiger said all 71s are not created equal. On Thursday, he made three birdies and three bogeys. On Friday, he made four birdie and four bogeys. Which round was better? The first. His theory is that, despite the rain, conditions were easier in the second round and there were more scoring opportunities. He didn't take advantage.
• This is the first time since the 2013 Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes that Tiger shot par or better in each of the first two rounds of a major. That’s quite a long time ago.
• Stat line for the day: 11 of 15 fairways, 13 of 18 greens, 32 total putts. Tiger hit one driver and two 3-woods on Thursday and four drivers on Friday, only one which found the fairway. An errant drive at the second led to him sniping his next shot into the gallery.
• In his own words: “I could have cleaned up the round just a little bit. I got off to not exactly the best start, being 2 over through three, but got it back. The golf course was a little bit softer today, obviously. It rains, and we were able to get the ball down a little bit further, control the ball on the ground a little bit easier today, which was nice.”
• At some point Tiger is going to have to be more aggressive. He will be quite a few shots off the lead by day’s end and he'll have a lot of ground to make up. Hitting irons off the tee is great for position golf, but it’s often leaving him more than 200 yards into the green. Not exactly a range for easy birdies.
• Sure, it’s too soon to say Tiger can’t win a fourth claret jug, but with so many big names ahead of him on the leaderboard, it’s unlikely. Keep in mind that a top-six finish would guarantee him a spot in the WGC: Bridgestone Invitational in two weeks. At The Players, he stated that this was a big goal.
• My Twitter account got suspended momentarily when Tiger was standing over a birdie putt on the 17th green. That was the most panicked I’ve been since Tiger was in contention at the Valspar.