Not much Hope for Duval at La Quinta
During an ESPN.com chat session three weeks ago, Justin Leonard answered a question about how many wins he'll have on tour this year thusly:
"I'm not going to predict any wins, but I don't think you'll be disappointed."
Leonard certainly didn't disappoint his fans with an unpredictable win at the Bob Hope Classic on Sunday. Though the Texan grabbed the top spot in the tour's fourth event of the season, the Weekly 18 starts with the man who dwelled at the bottom of the leaderboard throughout the week.
The Story of David Duval is turning into a tragic tale.
On Sunday, Duval celebrated the six-year anniversary of one of the greatest single rounds ever played -- a final-round 59 at the 1999 Bob Hope Classic that earned him the victory -- by taking the day off.
Granted, the day off wasn't voluntary, but rather a result of four bad days at La Quinta. After all, Duval didn't just miss the cut; he missed it by 41 strokes.
Some of the more staggering numbers from Duval's week:
All this, and Duval's scores easily could have been much worse. After starting his fourth round with a double-bogey, Duval rebounded to shoot an even-par 72 at La Quinta.
Which can only make you think. The talent is still there. The ability to make birdies -- he had one every eight holes this week -- is still there. And, somewhere, a 13-time PGA Tour champion is still there.
There's no doubt Duval is a long, long way from the player we used to know. Since his last win, the 2001 British Open, he has broken up with his fiancee and later remarried. He has lost his game and tried to gain it back. He has endured small doses of success and large doses of failure.
But still we must wonder: Will we ever see the David Duval of old again?
How unpredictable is PGA Tour golf? Consider this, if you were trying to choose a winner entering the Hope: Justin Leonard hadn't won a tournament since the 2003 Honda Classic; last week, in his first event using his new Nike clubs, he missed the cut at the Buick Invitational; and his putting average of 1.826 would have ranked him 114th on tour had he played enough rounds to qualify. And yet, there was Leonard shooting four rounds of 68 or better to claim a three-stroke win.
With the $846,000 first-place check from the Hope, Leonard passed Scott Hoch into ninth place on the all-time PGA Tour money list. His career earnings now total $18,485,781.
File this one in the We Told You So Dept.: A week ago, the Weekly 18 sung the praises of former Presidents Cup International team members Tim Clark and Peter Lonard, stating each could win in the U.S. this year. At the Hope they only strengthened that argument. Clark, a South African, finished T-2 one week after winning the South African Open; Lonard, an Australian, finished T-4.
A year ago, Kirk Triplett held a share of the fourth round lead at the Hope, only to be foiled in his chance for victory by the event's unorthodox five-round format. This year, it was Joe Ogilvie who was robbed by the Wednesday start. The six-year tour veteran held or shared the lead after each of the first four rounds, but shot a final-round 73 to finish three strokes behind Leonard. Ogilvie was undone by bogeys on two of his first three holes, then pulled his drive into the water on the 10th hole, which eventually led to a double-bogey.
With Ogilvie's T-2 finish at the Hope, it's time to revisit the great Ogilvie versus Ogilvy comparison. Joe, 30, is an Ohio-born financial whiz who lists Warren Buffett and Bill Gates among his heroes. Geoff, 27, is an Australian-born distant relative of Sir Angus Ogilvy (of Britain's Royal Family) and Robert the Bruce (Scotland's King of Bannockburn), who led the tour in the All-Around statistic last year. Their biggest similarity? Both Ogilvie and Ogilvy are among the top 10 tour members, in terms of talent, without a career victory.
After finishing 116th on the money list in 2003, Andrew Magee didn't compete in a single event on tour last season after undergoing rehabilitation from Achilles tendon surgery. Playing on a Major Medical Extension in 2005, Magee has 29 events to reach the $623,262 mark (equal to Tag Ridings, who was No. 125 on the 2004 money list) to keep his card for next year. So far Magee looks like a lock. After a T-7 at the Sony Open netted him $154,800, Magee finished T-8 at the Hope to claim $131,600.
OK, so the par-5 11th hole at the PGA West Palmer Course ranked as the easiest on the course. It's not supposed to be that easy. On Wednesday, Tim Petrovic recorded the first double-eagle on tour in 2005, sinking his second shot from 240 yards out. Last year there were only three double-eagles all season (John Daly at the Bob Hope, John Douma at the Chrysler Classic and Gary Evans at the British Open). By comparison, there were 34 holes-in-one.
Petrovic's double-eagle was interesting, but it was nothing compared with the benign-sounding 33 that Tag Ridings shot on the back nine at Tamarisk CC on Friday. Starting his round on the 10th hole, Ridings made bogey-bogey, then holed out a 2-iron from 256 yards on the par-5 12th hole -- yes, the second double-eagle in three days! -- before making two pars, two bogeys and two eagles to finish out his front nine. If you're keeping score at home, that's one double-eagle, two eagles, no birdies, two pars and four bogeys in a nine-hole span. Ridings shot a 66 for the day, but missed the cut after a fourth-round 76.
While 50-somethings Craig Stadler, Jay Haas and Peter Jacobsen got plenty of ink for their continued strong play on the PGA Tour, they should be looking over their shoulders at a prospective Champions Tour rookie -- and no, we're not talking about Greg Norman. Still a spry 49 years old, Loren Roberts finished T-4 at the Hope for his second top 20 in as many events this season. Roberts won't be eligible for Champions Tour status until June 24, but if he chooses to play a solid schedule of senior events, look for the Boss of the Moss to putt his way to a few wins before the year is over.
Jimmy Walker, the 2004 Nationwide Tour Player of the Year, is 0-for-3 so far as a member of the big leagues. That's not three missed cuts, it's three missed starts. Walker entered the Sony, Buick and Bob Hope, only to DNS at each one. Reportedly, Walker is nursing an injury that has prevented him from hitting any shots on tour so far in 2005.
The British are coming! The British are coming! Just when you started to realize that Luke Donald is the equal to fellow young guns Sergio Garcia and Adam Scott in both potential and presence, just when you wanted to make amends with Paul Casey for his (somewhat) anti-American comments, just when you could identify Ian Poulter's pants from 200 yards away, here comes Nick Dougherty. The 22-year-old is the latest Englishman to burst onto the scene, claiming his first career Euro Tour victory at the Caltex Masters. The youngster combines Donald's smooth swing style with Poulter's natty hairstyle and already has a fist-pump built for Ryder Cup play. With many of his fellow countrymen taking aim at the PGA Tour, look for Dougherty as a rising star on the Euro Tour, which certainly needs an up-and-comer.
After a second-round 71 that left him one stroke behind Dougherty, Colin Montgomerie was quoted as saying, "I want to win. I must win. I have to win." Those could have been prophetic words for the Caltex defending champ, but he ran into trouble on the back nine at Laguna National on Sunday and finished T-2, five strokes off the pace.
LPGA Tour commissioner Ty Votaw has already announced his plans to relinquish his position at the end of the year, but he may have a lasting legacy in what could become the most entertaining event on tour. The HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship, to be played June 30-July 3 at Hamilton Farm GC in Gladstone, N.J., will include a field of 64 of the world's top players (there is currently no World Ranking for the women; that will change for the 2006 season). Like the men's Accenture Match Play Championship, the women's event will require the victor to win six consecutive matches. And don't worry about Annika Sorenstam and the top players sitting this one out or taking it lightly. With a $500,000 first-place check (the second-largest on tour to the the U.S. Women's Open), this event will go a long way towards determining spots on the money list. But even better, it gives the LPGA a great break from the monotony of stroke-play events during the season.
Vance Veazey was a member of the PGA Tour in 1998 and 2003. Now he's already got a leg up in his quest to make it back in 2006. Veazey claimed the season-opening BellSouth Panama Championship on Sunday, his third career Nationwide Tour win, but first since 1999, when it was still called the Nike Tour.
Spike McRoy is best known for winning the 2002 B.C. Open, but it was clearly apparent this week that Endicott, N.Y., is a long way from Panama City. In his first round of the Nationwide season, McRoy shot a 14-over 84, which included two triple-bogeys and four bogeys on the back nine. He followed with a second-round 71, but still missed the cut.
As if having a hit movie in theaters isn't enough, Samuel L. Jackson also had one of the prettiest shots of the week. During Saturday's fourth-round (the final round for the pro-am part of the competition) at the Hope, the "Coach Carter" star stuck his tee shot on the par-3 15th hole at PGA West to within a foot and calmly sank the birdie putt. Jackson plays to a six handicap.
"To watch all the white dudes hit it good is boring, and to hit it well and watch us hit, it reminds him of how great he is."
--comedian George Lopez on pro-am playing partner Mike Weir
Jason Sobel is ESPN.com's golf editor. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn3.com
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