The Curious Case of David Duval

By Jay CoffinNovember 3, 2009, 10:00 am

Project 99I was there when ... it all fell apart for David Duval.

First thought was, “Ouch.” Second thought was, “This man couldn’t possibly have shot 59.”

I was there at the 2003 PGA Championship when David Duval couldn’t hit the ball into the ocean if he had one toe in the water. Yet, that same man, four years prior at the Bob Hope Classic, played so well over 18 holes that he wasn’t capable of hitting an approach shot outside 10 feet. Two years earlier he collected his first major triumph at the Open Championship.

That sums up the curious case of David Duval. His game has been both magnificent and manic.

It’s no shock that Duval won the 1999 Bob Hope Classic, it’s just surprising how he won it. He entered the event having won eight of his previous 27 tournaments and was within a frog hair of Tiger Woods’ No. 1 ranking.

David Duval
David Duval watches his eagle putt drop for 59. (Getty Images)
Although Duval was on people’s minds as a contender early in the week, those thoughts faded entering the fifth and final round at PGA West’s Palmer Course when he was seven shots behind leader Steve Pate. Even a nifty front-nine 31 didn’t do too much to get people in the California desert worked up.

Three consecutive birdies to open the inward nine changed the tune dramatically. Suddenly, Pate and fellow contender John Huston had company. Television producers were sent scrambling to make sure they were prepared to follow every shot from Duval, and news of the heroics had spread among the gallery creating a sudden feeling that something special was about to happen.

With 59 on Duval’s mind, he closed stronger than New York Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera, going 2-3-3-3 over the final four holes.

The final hole produced some of the best theater in golf history. After a monstrous drive of 320 yards on the par-5 home hole, Duval had 226 yards to a back pin guarded by water on the left. He smoked a 5-iron that carried some 210 yards and ran past the hole to 6 feet. Duval calmly rolled in the eagle to shoot 59 and let out a series of fist-pumps that were forceful, yet not quite Tiger Woods-like only because they lacked practice, not emotion.

“There it is. Fifty-nine. The best final round. Ever,” was the call from ABC’s Mike Tirico.

“It was an easy 59,” said playing partner Jeff Maggert, who, by comparison, chopped it around in 66. “I’ve never seen anyone hit the ball that close for an entire round. It was sort of like a no-hitter. I didn’t want to say the wrong thing.”

Duval, 27 years old at the time, hit 11-of-13 fairways, 17-of-18 greens, had 23 putts, made 11 birdies, one eagle and hit approach shots inside of 5 feet on half of the 18 holes.

“I was more excited about the score than having the chance to win the golf tournament,” Duval said that day, Jan. 24, 1999. “I certainly had aspirations of winning, but the 59 was first and foremost in my mind.”

The year continued to be great for Duval. He won four times before the Masters, including The Players Championship on the same day his father, Bob, won on the Champions Tour. A victory the week before the Masters gave Duval the top spot in the world ranking, supplanting Woods’ stranglehold on the position for the previous 41 weeks. Duval held the position for the next three months.

Each of the next couple years got progressively worse, back problems being the biggest culprit.

What I saw in 2003 defies explanation for myriad reasons.

Duval arrived at Oak Hill for the PGA Championship in the midst of his worst season on Tour having only made four cuts in 18 starts. He hadn’t sniffed anything close to a top-20 finish.

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His back continued to give him fits, the result of years of wear and tear from the torque of his golf swing. Accordingly, Duval had developed poor swing habits trying to compensate and that was the beginning of his downward spiral.

It’s not overstating it to say that Duval played well to shoot 80 in the first round on a day when a massive widespread power outage affected 45 million people in eight states and 10 million more in Canada.

A man who once played lights-out to shoot 59, was now shooting 80 in a town without lights. Go figure.

Day 2 produced more gore than most horror flicks. Duval hit his opening tee shot 50 yards left. The collective “oohs” and “awws” from the Rochester, N.Y., gallery were both loud and sad. It was difficult to watch.

After another atrocious tee shot on the fifth hole, Duval had enough and withdrew, citing a lower back injury that appeared fine 24 hours earlier. He was 6 over after four holes with a bogey, double bogey and a triple bogey. In 22 holes he had made four doubles and a triple.

For the year, his scoring average was a skosh under 74, a far cry from the 69.1 average he collected in 1999.

I was there to witness Duval’s lowest of the low, and it was as memorable as it was horrific. It did, however, make it even more impossible to imagine what it took for Double D to shoot golf’s magic number.

At the time in 1999, scribes were writing that Duval’s 59 would get better with age, especially if he began to collect majors at what insiders believed would be a rapid pace. Well, it got better with age. Not because he got better, only, sadly, because he got much worse.

David Duval

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Tiger putts way into contention at The Open

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 5:17 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – When Tiger Woods benched his trusty Scotty Cameron blade putter last month at the Quicken Loans National for a new TaylorMade mallet-headed version some saw it as a sign of desperation, but if his performance on Carnoustie’s greens on Saturday were any indication it could end up being a calculated success.

Woods stormed into contention on Day 3 with a 5-under 66 to move to within shouting distance of the lead at The Open, thanks in large part to his vastly improved putting.

“I hit so many good putts out there today, and this week from distance, I've had really good feels,” said Woods, whose 29 putts on Saturday belies his performance on Carnoustie’s greens. “Even as this golf course was changing and evolving, I've maintained my feels with the putter. I've made a couple of putts from about 40 to 60 feet, which is nice. I just feel like I've been able to roll the ball.”


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


The highlight of Woods’ round came at the par-4 ninth hole when he charged in a 40-footer for birdie from the front edge of the green to begin a run of three consecutive birdies. Perhaps more impressive, he didn’t have a three-putt, and has only had two all week, which is always a bonus on links courses.

Woods temporarily took a share of the lead with a lengthy birdie putt at the 14th hole and scrambled for a par save at the last after his drive nearly found the Barry Burn.

“I hit a few putts that I think should have gone in from 20, 30 feet today," he said. "So that's always a good sign.”

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TT postscript: A 66, he's in contention - awesome

By Tiger TrackerJuly 21, 2018, 4:58 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Here are a few things I think I think after Tiger Woods went berserk Saturday and shot 5-under 66 to vault up the leaderboard at The Open at Carnoustie:

• THAT WAS AWESOME!

At 4:13PM here in Scotland, when Tiger two-putted for birdie on the par-5 14th hole, he held a share of the lead in a major championship. It was once unthinkable, but it happened. I saw it with my own eyes.

• Tiger’s last two weekend rounds in the 60s in The Open both happened at Carnoustie and both happened on July 21. In 2007, Woods shot 69 here. On Saturday, that score was clipped by three shots. Tiger shot 65 in the second round of The Open at Royal Liverpool in 2006. He won his third claret jug that week. Tiger last shoot 66 in a major during the second round of the 2011 Masters.

• This is the sixth time that Tiger has recorded three consecutive rounds of par of better to start The Open. He went on to win three of the previous five times.

• One bad swing, the only bad swing of the day according to Tiger, produced the luckiest of breaks. Standing on the 18th tee with an iron in hand, Tiger pulled his tee shot that hit on the top of the Barry Burn and very easily could’ve ended in a watery grave. Instead it ended in thick rough, some 250 yards from the pin. Tiger punted it up the fairway, but got up and down from 83 yards to save par and shoot 66. “I hit my number,” he quipped about hitting wedge to 2 feet.

• On the other hand, the lone bogey came from one poor putt. On the par-3 16th hole, with half of Scotland screaming his name, Tiger missed a 7-footer for par. It was deflating at the time because the last three holes are so difficult. Pars on the last two holes were stellar.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


• Final stats: 12 of 15 fairways, 14 of 18 greens and 29 total putts. Tiger hit six drivers and one 3-wood, proving that he was way more aggressive. He hit four drivers on Friday and only one on Thursday.

• One of the aforementioned drivers that he hit on the ninth hole was well left and in some thick round, 170 yards from the hole. A safe approach to 40 feet set him up for and easy two-putt par. But he slammed the putt home and made an improbable birdie. “I hit so many good putts out there today, and this week from distance, I’ve had really good feels,” he said.

• In his own words about his chances of winning: “It certainly is possible. I’ve shown that I’ve been there close enough with a chance to win this year. Given what happened the last few years, I didn’t know if that would ever happen again, but here I am with a chance coming Sunday in a major championship. It’s going to fun.”

Yes, yes it is.

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Watch: Guy sleeps next to many beers at Open

By Grill Room TeamJuly 21, 2018, 4:55 pm

It's Moving Day at The Open Championship for all but one sedentary fan.

Cameras caught this potentially browned-out man having himself a Saturday snooze on the browned-out grasses of Carnoustie:

Browned out. That's a great term. Glad it's in the public domain. We've been using it all weekend. I imagine we'll continue to use it. A lot.

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Watch: Tiger makes 6 birdies, 1 amazing par in Rd. 3

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 4:10 pm

Tiger Woods started the third round of The Open at even par, having made seven birdies and seven bogeys over the first 36 holes at Carnoustie.

Following three pars to start on Saturday, Woods went on a birdie binge.

No. 1 came with this putt at the par-4 fourth.


No. 2 with this two-putt at the par-5 sixth.


No. 3 thanks to this 30-footer at the par-4 ninth.


No. 4 after nearly jarring his approach shot on the par-4 10th.


No. 5 when he almost drove the green at the par-4 11th and two-putted, from just off the green, from 95 feet.


And No. 6, which gave him a share of the lead, came courtesy another two-putt at the par-5 14th.


Woods bogeyed the par-3 16th to drop out of the lead and almost dropped - at least - one more shot at the par-4 18th. But his tee shot got a lucky bounce and he turned his good fortune into a par.


Woods shot 5-under 66 and finished the day at 5 under par.