Alternate Shot: Will Duval ever win again?
Think back to 1999. Do you remember how good was David Duval was?
He became the last player to reach No. 1 in the world before Tiger Woods' stranglehold on the position that ended last September. He won four of his first eight starts of the season, including the Bob Hope Classic with a legendary final-round 59.
Two years later Duval won his first -- and only -- major title at the British Open. It was also his last of 13 PGA Tour victories. Only 33, Duval should, seemingly, have plenty of golf ahead of him. But after four rounds during which he missed the cut by 41 strokes at this year's Hope, we have to wonder, Will Duval ever win another PGA Tour event?
Golf World's Ron Sirak and ESPN.com's Bob Harig debate the issue.
The 13 PGA Tour victories David Duval has in his career were not flukes. He is a player of considerable talent, and talent does not disappear. Right now his ability is hiding behind a barrier that is more emotional than it is technical or physical.
It is not like he is a pitcher with a suddenly dead arm. Duval still has the stuff to win and it will all fall together for him some week. That week may not happen this year or even in the next few years, but it will happen, most likely at a time when we are least expecting it.
Recent history has several examples of players of considerable talent who broke long victory droughts just at the time when the consensus was that they would never win again. Johnny Miller went from 1987 to 1994 without a victory. Tom Watson did Miller better, extending his winless streak from 1987 to 1996 before hoisting another big check. And just last year John Daly won for the first time since the 1995 British Open. And, conincidentally, it was at the 2001 British Open that Duval last won.
Duval is still only 33 years old and while it is highly unlikely he will ever be No. 1 in the world again, or even a top-20 player, he will win again.
History almost guarantees it.
-- Ron Sirak
Two events do not make a season, and certainly not a career. But the way David Duval has started out in 2005 makes it clear he is farther away from greatness than ever. So much for regaining the competitive fire that time away from the game was supposed to restore.
After opening the season at the Buick Invitational with a 79 and a withdrawal, Duval played four rounds at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in 30 over par. He started the tournament with an 82 and shot 85 during the third round, which included a back-nine 49 and four triple-bogeys. And we're not talking about the U.S. Open here. This is the Hope, where birdies are everywhere. The venues used for the tournament are traditionally among the easiest on the PGA Tour.
The downfall he has experienced since winning the 2001 British Open has been discussed frequently. In 2004, he took half the season off, got married and embraced a life outside of golf. When he came back at the U.S. Open, nobody expected much. Duval made just three cuts in nine events, but did tie for 13th at the Deutsche Bank Classic, giving hope that good golf might be simply a matter of chipping away the rust.
Duval admitted, however, he hardly practiced in the offseason, spent with his family in Colorado. Perhaps Duval is planning a slow, steady return to the top of the game, or even respectability. Reality appears different. Duval has made plenty of money, won a major championship, climbed the mountain. He looks like a guy content with a different life and different priorities. Nothing wrong with that.
But a PGA Tour victory? It hardly seems possible now.
-- Bob Harig