They Dont Forget the Champions

By Golf Channel NewsroomJuly 15, 2003, 4:00 pm
SANDWICH, England (AP) -- He wore wraparound shades and a stoic expression.
He hit a snap hook into the waist-high weeds.
The two dozen fans who gathered around the 18th tee at Royal St. George's had no trouble recognizing the former champion, only the shots coming off his club.
'Man,' David Duval moaned as his 2-iron took a hard turn to the left and into the rough. 'I did the same thing yesterday.'
Two years ago, he could do little wrong.
Duval not only won the British Open for his first major championship, he won over the golf-savvy gallery with an acceptance speech that was humble and heartfelt -- a man in awe not of himself but of the silver claret jug he cradled.
Except for the sunglasses and steely demeanor, so much has changed.
Duval held court with a small group of reporters, his back stiffening as he braced for another round of questions he hears every time he plays.
What's wrong with your game?
'The scores haven't been there for me,' Duval said. 'I'm right on the edge of doing what I know I can do.'
Either that, or he's on the edge of a cliff.
So much more was expected when Duval, the only other player besides Tiger Woods to be ranked No. 1 in the world the last five years, closed with rounds of 65-67 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes to claim his first major championship.
His only trophy since then was the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan.
He has gone from sixth in the world ranking to No. 87, prompting one prominent player to jokingly refer to him as 'Mr. Free Fall.'
Most weeks for Duval end on Friday, unless the cut isn't made until Saturday (Pebble Beach, Palm Springs) or the second round is delayed by rain (Masters). He has played 15 times and made four cuts. That includes a first-round loss in the Match Play Championship.
Woods, who went three months and a whopping four tournaments without winning, was asked at the U.S. Open how he would define a slump.
'Someone who completely loses their game,' he said.
Sound familiar?
Finding the cause for Duval's misery on the golf course remains a mystery.
There have been a litany of problems outside the ropes, such as the breakup with his fiancee of eight years, and his legal battle with Titleist over a broken contract. Add to that injuries that ranged from tendinitis in his wrist to vertigo.
From a golf standpoint, it's no secret. Duval gets to the first tee and two questions immediately come to mind -- is this going left or right?
'It's no fun,' Duval said.
Is he lazy?
That didn't appear to be the case at the Masters. Instead of cleaning out his locker after missing the cut, Duval spent nearly two hours on the practice range. He has become increasingly frustrated with reporters who find fault with his game without ever watching.
'I'm out there pursuing excellence,' he said during the U.S. Open. 'And I have a hard time explaining that to those who aren't.'
Winning his first major did not make him any less motivated. The claret jug only made him realize that fulfillment in life must come from some other source. That led some to believe golf is no longer important.
'I love to play this game more than anything I do,' Duval said. 'To win is the ultimate achievement. But if your goal is to find fulfillment, this is the wrong place to be seeking it.'
Where should it be found?
'That's for each individual to figure out,' he replied.
Meantime, even his peers are puzzled. From the time he was a rookie in 1995, Duval had never finished lower than 11th on the money list.
'I played a lot of golf with him when he was at the peak of his game, ranked No. 1 in the world,' U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk said. 'He's too good. He's got too much talent. He's got too much drive. He's had a real high peak, now he's had his lowest valley.
'But he's going to climb out of it,' Furyk added. 'I don't know exactly when that's going to be, but I think he'll be just find. And he's going to start winning golf tournaments again.'
There is no reason to believe this will be the week.
Even so, Duval had a certain calmness, if not confidence, about him as he walked along the fairways of Royal St. George's.
Unlike most weeks, Duval sensed respect from the gallery, not sympathy. Mark O'Meara, who won in 1998 at Royal Birkdale, once told Duval that British fans never forget an Open champion. No matter the state of his game, they remember four magical days in July.
'Nobody has forgotten,' Duval said. 'They know that I'm a former champion, and I'm treated that way. I've won here. And that's a nice thing.'
Related Links:
  • 132nd Open Championship Home
  • More Open Championship News
  • Course Tour - The Royal St. George's Golf Club

    Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Getty Images

    Bhatia loses U.S. Am match after caddie-cart incident

    By Ryan LavnerAugust 16, 2018, 2:21 am

    PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – One of the hottest players in amateur golf had his U.S. Amateur run end Wednesday under unusual circumstances.

    Akshay Bhatia, the 16-year-old left-hander who has been dominating the junior golf circuit over the past year, squandered a late lead in his eventual 19-hole loss to Bradford Tilley in the Round of 64.

    Bhatia was all square against Tilley as they played Pebble Beach’s par-5 14th hole. After knocking his second shot onto the green, Bhatia and his caddie, Chris Darnell, stopped to use the restroom. Bhatia walked up to the green afterward, but Darnell asked what he thought was a USGA official for a ride up to the green.

    “The gentleman was wearing a USGA pullover,” Darnell explained afterward. “I asked if I could get a ride to the green to keep up pace, and he said yes. So I hopped on the back, got up to the green, hopped off and thought nothing of it.”

    Conditions of the competition prohibit players and caddies from riding on any form of transportation during a stipulated round unless authorized.

    It turns out that the cart that Darnell rode on was not driven by a USGA official. Rather, it was just a volunteer wearing USGA apparel. A rules official who was in the area spotted the infraction and assessed Bhatia an adjustment penalty, so instead of winning the hole with a birdie-4 to move 1 up, the match remained all square.

    U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos

    Even more interesting was what Darnell said happened earlier in the match.

    “I had already seen the other caddie in our group do it on the ninth hole,” Darnell said. “Same thing – USGA pullover, drove him from the bathroom up to the fairway – so I assumed it was fine. I didn’t point it out at the time because everything seemed kosher. He had the USGA stuff on, and I didn’t think anything of it.”

    Bhatia won the 15th hole to go 1 up, but lost the 17th and 19th holes with bogeys to lose the match. He didn’t blame the outcome on the cart incident.  

    “What can you do? I’ll have plenty of opportunities to play in this tournament, so I’m not too upset about it,” he said. “It’s just frustrating because I deserved to win that match. That wasn’t the outcome I wanted, but I can’t do anything about it.”

    Bhatia, of Wake Forest, N.C., has been a dominant force in the junior ranks, going back-to-back at the Junior PGA (including this dramatic hole-out), capturing the AJGA Polo, taking the Sage Valley Invitational and reaching the finals of the U.S. Junior.

    Getty Images

    1, 2, 3 out: Thornberry, Suh, Morikawa lose at U.S. Am

    By Ryan LavnerAugust 16, 2018, 1:14 am

    PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – The top three players in the world had a tough afternoon Wednesday at Pebble Beach.

    Braden Thornberry, Justin Suh and Collin Morikawa – Nos. 1-3, respectively, in the World Amateur Golf Ranking – all lost their Round of 64 matches at the U.S. Amateur.

    Thornberry lost, 2 and 1, to Jesus Montenegro of Argentina. As the No. 1 amateur in the world, the Ole Miss senior was in line to receive the McCormack Medal, which would exempt him into both summer Opens in 2019, provided he remains amateur. But now he’ll need to wait and see how the rankings shake out.

    Suh and Morikawa could have played each other in the Round of 32, but instead they were both heading home early.

    U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos

    Suh, a junior at USC, never led in his 1-up loss to Harrison Ott, while Cal's Morikawa lost to another Vanderbilt player, John Augenstein, in 19 holes.

    Englishman Matthew Jordan is the fourth-ranked player in the world, but he didn’t make the 36-hole stroke-play cut.

    The highest-ranked player remaining is Oklahoma State junior Viktor Hovland, who is ranked fifth. With his college coach, Alan Bratton, on the bag, Hovland beat his Cowboys teammate, Hayden Wood, 3 and 2, to reach the Round of 32.

    Getty Images

    Fiery Augenstein outduels Morikawa at U.S. Amateur

    By Ryan LavnerAugust 16, 2018, 12:55 am

    PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Around the Vanderbilt golf team John Augenstein’s nickname is “Flash,” and it’s easy to see why.

    The swing loaded with speed.

    The on-course charisma.

    The big shot in the big moment.

    The Commodores junior added another highlight to his growing collection Wednesday, when he defeated world No. 3 Collin Morikawa in 19 holes during a Round of 64 match at the U.S. Amateur.

    Out of sorts early at Pebble Beach, Augenstein was 2 down to Morikawa after butchering the short seventh and then misplaying a shot around the green on 8.

    Standing on the ninth tee, he turned to Vanderbilt assistant coach/caddie Gator Todd: "I need to play the best 10 holes of my life to beat Collin."

    And did he?

    “I don’t know,” he said later, smirking, “but I did enough.”

    Augenstein won the ninth hole after Morikawa dumped his approach shot into the hazard, drained a 30-footer on 10 to square the match and then took his first lead when he rolled in a 10-footer on 14.

    One down with three holes to go, Morikawa stuffed his approach into 16 while Augenstein, trying to play a perfect shot, misjudged the wind and left himself in a difficult position, short and right of the green. Augenstein appeared visibly frustrated once he found his ball, buried in the thick ryegrass short of the green. He told Todd that he didn’t think he’d be able to get inside of Morikawa’s shot about 6 feet away, but he dumped his pitch shot onto the front edge, rode the slope and trickled it into the cup for an unlikely birdie.

    “Come on!” he yelled, high-fiving Todd and tossing his wedge at his bag.

    “It was beautiful,” Todd said. “I’m not sure how he did that, but pretty cool that it went in.”  

    U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos

    Morikawa answered by making birdie, then won the 17th with a par before both players halved the home hole with birdies.

    On the first extra hole, Augenstein hit his approach to 15 feet while Morikawa left it short. Morikawa raced his first putt by 6 feet and then missed the comebacker to lose the match.

    It may not have been the best 10-hole stretch of Augenstein’s career, but after that pep talk on 9 tee, he went 4 under to the house.

    “He’s a fiery little dude,” Morikawa said of his 5-foot-8-inch opponent. “You don’t want to get him on the wrong side because you never know what’s going to happen. He’s not going to give shots away.”

    The first-round match was a rematch of the Western Amateur quarterfinals two weeks ago, where Augenstein also won, that time by a 4-and-2 margin.

    “It’s the most fun format and where I can be my true self – emotional and aggressive and beat people,” Augenstein said.

    That’s what he did at the 2017 SECs, where he won the deciding points in both the semifinals and the finals. He starred again a few weeks later at the NCAA Championship, last season went 3-0 in SEC match play, and now has earned a reputation among his teammates as a primetime player.

    “I’ve hit a lot of big shots and putts in my career,” said Augenstein, ranked 26th in the world after recently winning the Players Amateur. “I get locked in and focused, and there’s not a shot that I don’t think I can pull off. I’m not scared to fail.”

    The comeback victory against Morikawa – a three-time winner last season at Cal and one of the best amateurs in the world – didn’t surprise Todd. He’s seen firsthand how explosive Augenstein can be on the course.

    “He’s just fiery,” Todd said. “He does things under pressure that you’re not supposed to do. He’s just a special kid.”

    Getty Images

    Fowler (oblique) withdraws from playoff opener

    By Will GrayAugust 15, 2018, 8:44 pm

    The injury that slowed Rickie Fowler at last week's PGA Championship will keep him out of the first event of the PGA Tour's postseason.

    Fowler was reportedly hampered by an oblique injury at Bellerive Country Club, where he started the third round two shots off the lead but faded to a tie for 12th. He confirmed the injury Tuesday in an Instagram post, adding that an MRI revealed a partial tear to his right oblique muscle.

    According to Fowler, the injury also affected him at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where he tied for 17th. After receiving the test results, he opted to withdraw from The Northern Trust next week at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey.

    "My team and I feel like it's best not to play next week in the Northern Trust," Fowler wrote. "I will be back healthy and competitive ASAP for the FedEx Cup and more than ready for the Ryder Cup!!!"

    Fowler is one of eight players who earned automatic spots on the U.S. Ryder Cup team when the qualifying window closed last week. His next opportunity to tee it up would be at the 100-man Dell Technologies Championship, where Fowler won in 2015.

    Fowler has 12 top-25 finishes in 18 starts, highlighted by runner-up finishes at both the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in the fall and at the Masters. He is currently 17th in the season-long points race, meaning that he's assured of starts in each of the first three playoff events regardless of performance and in good position to qualify for the 30-man Tour Championship for the fourth time in the last five years.