I think theres a definite change, said Duval. The job of you people sitting in here (the media) is to question why a player of his (Mickelsons) caliber or mine hasnt (won a major.) We can say as much as we want that we believe (how good we are), but until you go do it, it doesnt answer the questions.
So I do think it changes the way you are looked at and perceived. Theres just that little question mark. I think you get looked at as a champion, more so than having won the other tournaments. I dont know, its just been a different reception.
However, he believes wholeheartedly that his perception of himself has not changed.
I think I have greater confidence, because of what happened at Lytham, Duval said. And I was extremely excited about winning. But what I was more proud about than winning was how I played. Not that I played the best golf I can play, because I dont think I did. I played well, dont get me wrong. But just shooting the scores I did on the weekend and not backing into it. I just feel really good about going out there and taking control and taking care of it myself. I feel better about that than the actual win.
He has used the Claret Jug trophy for several spirits, he confessed ' Dom Perignon champagne and Louis XIII were sampled from the chalice. However, just to prove his roots, he had one very common drink ' common for the average man. He playfully refused to reveal it, but said it was a beverage that cost only a couple of dollars a bottle. I dont want to anger the R&A by revealing it.
And the British Open champion said this year is a little different in that his wins havent come at the same rapid clip as 1998, for example. But theres no question that he thinks he is a better golfer today.
Its not week to week to week now ' its April to June to July to August. There are large gaps in between, he said. Its a little bit harder to have that momentum carry-over effect.
Certainly it opens the door for me and I come into these tournaments knowing I can win under the various conditions, playing in different levels with my own ability. And that was good thing for me to learn in England.
There is the period immediately after the win that the glow is the brightest. For Duval, the day after included a trip to Canada for a skins game, but the elation he felt has rarely been matched.
We had quite a nice celebration on the plane ride over, he said. I tossed and turned for a couple of hours in bed, there was no sleep, it was all adrenalin.
But it was a great day still. The fact that I was right back out in a golfing arena was probably a good thing. It was a good day ' I have felt better on Mondays, but it was fun.
Duvals relationship with Tiger Woods has grown immeasurably over the past year. Duval hasnt yet enticed Woods to go snowboarding ' one of Duvals passions ' but he has enjoyed the friendship immensely. Still, questions about it are a little disconcerting.
Its kind of weird to talk about it, said Duval. Its like me asking you about one of your friends and you having to explain the nature of your relationship. Why are you friends with him? is the way it comes across. We see things in a similar way. I think he respects me for my golf, he respects me for who I am, and for stating my opinions and standing up for what I believe in.
Ive said on more than one occasion that I have great admiration for what he has to go through rather than how he has played.