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DD, Again


Short Game Tragedy
Mar 8, 2005
I just like stories about this guy. What can I say? Got this by e-mail today from TGC. Worth a look. This is the last year of his 5-year exemption. So it's make or break.

Wonder if he'll make it?

Duval Making Progress On his Own Terms

January 24, 2006 (AP)--David Toms was curious, like so many others who get paired with David Duval.

They had not played together since the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage, where Duval was the reigning British Open champion. Duval shot 78 that day, the start of a spiral into one of the most mystifying slumps in golf.

Toms didn't know what went wrong. He only saw the scores.

Duval's five-year exemption on the PGA Tour from his British Open victory expires this season, something he was more aware of last year when he hit rock bottom. He shot more rounds in the 80s than the 60s, and the only cut he made in 20 starts on tour was a tie for 60th in the Texas Open.

It is important that he plays well this year, and his start to the season did not bode well. Fidgeting over his opening tee shot at the Sony Open, trying to find a posture that didn't cause his back to lock up, Duval hit a nasty hook that one-hopped off the driving range net and settled at the base of a palm tree.

Double bogey.

On the second hole, another wild hook. Toms raced to the front of the tree-lined tee box to see where Duval's drive crossed the water hazard in case there was a question where to drop. Instead, the ball bounced off the rocks on the other side of the 20-yard stream and landed in the third fairway.

Next tee.

"There you go," Toms said to him as Duval's drive found the third fairway, this time on purpose.

"I didn't know what to expect," Toms said later. "He said he had been swinging well at home, and then he hurt his back when he got here. I could tell he was disappointed. He hit that first tee shot, the next one ... and then he started playing well. And on Friday, other than a couple of drives, he was in control of everything."

No doubt, Duval is making progress.

He shot 68 to make the cut on the number at the Sony Open, which he later described as a baby step.

What felt more like a leap was how he got to the weekend at Waialae. One shot over the cut line with two holes to play, he stood on the tee with a strong wind against him and from the left on the par-4 eighth, the toughest conditions for him to hit a fairway that he couldn't afford to miss.

Duval went after it and hammered the ball down the middle, leading to a birdie chance he narrowly missed. Then he pounded another drive down the middle on the par-5 ninth, leaving him a 3-iron into the green for a two-putt birdie.

It was too early in the year, and too far from the lead, to feel any pressure.

But he felt it.

Duval compared the jangled nerves on the eighth tee at Waialae with what he felt on the 17th tee at Sawgrass in 1999, when he hit wedge into 6 feet on the island green to clinch The Players Championship, the victory that made him No. 1 in the world.

If he has the kind of year he expects, remember that hole.

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