Time is Not on Duvals Side - COPIED - COPIED

By Mercer BaggsNovember 19, 2007, 5:00 pm
Its been six seasons since hes had a win. Five since he even had a top-10 or finished inside the top 125 on the money list.

And yet he still intrigues. Guess we are just fascinated by what we cant explain.

David Duval has had to do a lot of explaining over the last half-decade. Thats what happens when you go from the No. 1 player in the world to the No. 1 oddity in the game, when people start looking at you with bewilderment instead of reverence.

David Duval
David Duval last finished inside the top 125 on the money list in 2002.
He blamed it on injury, blamed it on apathy. Hurt his back and developed some bad swing habits. Won a major and wondered: Is that all there is?

Duvals freefall is well-chronicled. Youd be hard-pressed to find a fan who didnt know his story ' if not the specific details, at least the generalities.

The story has evolved a bit over the last couple of years. Hes gotten married; adopted her kids ' had one of their own; moved to Colorado. Hes better-rounded, he says.

He looks it, too. His once chiseled physique now has the definition of a jar of jelly.

And thats just the way he wants it. Hes says hes happy now, and you have to believe him (hes never been one to put up a false front).

He also says that hes playing better. That hes close to being a contender once again. And there, too, you have to take him for his word, because its not always easy to see.

There are signs, however; bits of evidence that he is indeed improving. Last year, he finished 172nd in earnings. Certainly nothing special for a man who has 13 career PGA TOUR wins and a claret jug.

But that was nearly 100 spots better than his position the year prior. And his 11 cuts made (in 24 starts) were more than his combined total over the previous three seasons. He only made one cut in 20 starts in '05.

His best finish of 06 came, of all places, at the U.S. Open. He tied for 16th at Winged Foot, even made some noise on Friday when he shot a tournament best 68.

Following that round Duval was asked what he always gets asked after posting a good number: Are you back? Is your game finally coming around?

And he answered as he has answered many times before:

I've been saying that for I don't know how long and nobody wants to seem to listen ' I'm playing well. I'll say it again: I'm playing very well.

At the British Open, five years after having won it at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, Duval posted a couple of modest 2-under 70s over the first two days.

And, of course, someone just had to ask: Do you feel the pieces of the jigsaw are coming together?

And, of course, Duval just had to reply: As I've said for many months, I'm playing well. I really don't know how else to answer that question.

Duval realizes that the question will persist until he develops some sort of consistency. He also admits: It will be nice when that's over. It will mean that I'm playing as I expected.

He might want to get on that in a hurry.

Duval was granted a five-year TOUR exemption for winning the 2001 Open Championship. That was 1-2-3-4-5-6 years ago.

Hes competing this year by using a one-time exemption for being inside the top 25 on the TOURs career money list. He can play next year, if need be, by using a one-time exemption for being inside the top 50 on that list.

And then then he has to make it on his own merit ' based on recent accomplishments, not from what he achieved in the past.

His quest begins this week at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, the tournament where he shot a closing 59 to cement his status as the best player in the world ' even before he officially became No. 1.

That came in 1999. He finished 26 under that week. In 2005, he finished 30 over ' without playing in the fifth and final round.

But last year he made the cut to play the final day. He finished at 9 under, despite shooting 78 along the way.

Its that one day that really seems to be holding him back at the moment. Fourteen times in 23 stroke-play events last year, he had at least one round of 75 or higher.

It's also those singular rounds that make others believe, as he does, that a revival is possible: the 63 Sunday of last year's Sony; the 64 in round 4 at the Hope; the 68 at Winged Foot.

They're just too few and far between.

The game still seems a bit puzzling to Duval, which is quite appropriate considering he is one of golfs greatest mysteries.

When it comes to David Duval, one really has no idea what to expect. Hes one big, well-rounded, seemingly content question mark.

Hed prefer nothing more than to have his game provide positive answers to all those questions. But who knows if that is possible.

The one thing thats most certain in all of this: tracking back up a hill is much more arduous than sledding down it.

If, however, his game doesnt tell you what you want to know, feel free to ask him how things are coming along. He just loves that.

Related Links:

  • Full Coverage ' Bob Hope Chrysler Classic

    Email your thoughts to Mercer Baggs

  • Getty Images

    Three of world's top 5 MC; not 60-year-old Langer

    By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 7:04 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Three of the top five players in the world missed the cut at The Open.

    Bernhard Langer did not.

    The 60-year-old, who is in the field via his victory in last year’s Senior Open Championship, shot even-par 71 on Friday. At 2 over through 36 holes, he safely made it under the plus-3 cut line.

    "You know, I've played the Masters [this year], made the cut. I'm here and made the cut. I think it is an accomplishment," he said. "There's a lot of great players in the field, and I've beaten a lot of very good players that are a lot younger than me."

    Langer had three birdies and three bogeys in the second round and said afterwards that he was “fighting myself” with his swing. He’s spent the last few days on the phone with his swing coach, Willy Hoffman, trying to find some comfort.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Despite his score, and his made cut, Langer the perfectionist wasn’t satisfied with the way he went about achieving his results.

    "I wasn't happy with my ball-striking. My putting was good, but I was unlucky. I had like four lip-outs, no lip-ins. That part was good. But the ball-striking, I wasn't really comfortable with my swing," he said. "Just, it's always tough trying stuff in the middle of a round."

    Langer, a two-time Masters champion, has never won The Open. He does, however, have six top-3 finishes in 30 prior starts.

    As for finishing higher than some of the top-ranked players in the world, the World Golf Hall of Famer is taking it in stride.

    "I'm not going to look and say, 'Oh, I beat Justin Rose or beat whatever.' But it just shows it's not easy. When some of the top 10 or top 20 in the world don't make the cut, it just shows that the setup is not easy," Langer said. "So I got the better half of the draw maybe, too, right? It wasn't much fun playing in the rain, I guess, this morning for five hours. I had to practice in the rain, but I think once I teed off, we never used umbrellas. So that was a blessing."

    Getty Images

    Kisner doubles 18, defends not laying up

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 6:42 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It was only fitting that Jean Van de Velde was there working as an on-course reporter on Friday as Kevin Kisner struggled his way up Carnoustie’s 18th fairway.

    Rolling along with a two-stroke lead, Kisner’s 8-iron approach shot from an awkward lie in the rough from 160 yards squirted right and bounced into Barry Burn, the winding creek where Van de Velde’s title chances at the 1999 Open Championship began to erode.

    Unlike Van de Velde, who made a triple bogey-7 and lost The Open in a playoff, Kisner’s double bogey only cost him the solo lead and he still has 36 holes to make his closing miscue a distant memory. That’s probably why the 34-year-old seemed at ease with his plight.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “It just came out like a high flop shot to the right. It was weird. I don't know if it caught something or what happened,” said Kisner, who was tied with Zach Johnson and Zander Lombard at 6 under par. “You never know out of that grass. It was in a different grass than usual. It was wet, green grass instead of the brown grass. So I hadn't really played from that too much.”

    Like most in this week’s field Kisner also understands that rounds on what is widely considered the most difficult major championship venue can quickly unravel even with the most innocent of mistakes.

    “To play 35 holes without a double I thought was pretty good,” he said. “I've kept the ball in play, done everything I wanted to do all the way up into that hole. Just one of those things that came out completely different than we expected. I'll live with that more than chipping out and laying up from 20 feet.”

    Getty Images

    Wind, not rain more a weekend factor at Open

    By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:39 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – After a half-day of rain in Round 2 of the 147th Open Championship, the weekend offers a much drier forecast.

    Saturday at Carnoustie is projected to be mostly cloudy with a high of 62 degrees and only a 20 percent chance of rain.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Sunday calls for much warmer conditions, with temperatures rising upwards of 73 degrees under mostly cloudy skies.

    Wind might be the only element the players have to factor in over the final 36 holes. While the winds will be relatively calm on Saturday, expected around 10-15 mph, they could increase to 25 mph in the final round.

    Getty Images

    Van Rooyen holes putt after ball-marker ruling

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:50 pm

    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.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    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.”