Point/Counterpoint: Should Duval be playing?

Originally Published: August 13, 2004

In his four stroke-play rounds on the PGA Tour this year, David Duval has shot 83, 82, 77 and 81.


Granted, these rounds were played at monsters Shinnecock Hills and Whistling Straits. But if David Duval is struggling to break 80, should he even be out on the course at all?

Everyone agrees that Duval has hit a rough patch in his professional career, but arguments abound over how he should handle it. This disagreement was handled in the most civil way possible -- Greco-Roman wrestling. When that failed to produce a winner, this Point/Counterpoint was written.

Should David Duval be playing on tour?

It is almost painful to watch, especially for those who remember how formidable David Duval used to be.

Five years ago, he was ranked No. 1 in the world, and just three years ago he played the PGA Championship coming off a victory at the British Open.

Now he appears as lost as ever, his game nowhere near ready for this stage.

But if Duval is intent on getting back, he must endure these hardships. He will not get better simply hitting balls on the range. That must be done, too, to work out the seemingly numerous maladies in his game. But playing and competing in the heat of battle is important, too, even if it appears he is not ready.

John Huston, Duval's playing partner for the first two rounds at the PGA Championship, said it was simply a matter of chipping away the rust. Duval showed signs of brilliance, but his short game is not to the standard it needs to be, and at a major championship venue, that is going to be exposed.

It's three tournaments, three missed cuts for Duval since his comeback began at the U.S. Open.

On Friday, Duval played eight of 18 holes over par. He shot 81 and missed the cut by 13 shots.

It's not pretty, but no one said it would be.
-- Bob Harig


To steal a page out of David Spade's old Saturday Night Live bit: "Hey David Duval, Charles Barkley called. He wants his swing back."

So maybe it's not that bad for Duval, but the man needs a practice range like Charles Howell III needs a cheeseburger. It's obvious his swing is not tournament-ready. He's missed the cut, badly, in his three tour events this season.

Duval's not doing himself -- or his fans -- any good in going to high-caliber courses and hacking it around like a 12-handicapper. Duval is a shell of his former self, the guy who won a Claret Jug just three years ago and holds 12 other titles on the PGA Tour.

What's wrong with his game? That's something only Duval and a qualified swing coach can answer, no matter how many people in the Whistling Straits gallery wanted to voice their opinion this week. But the stats aren't kind: In two days at the PGA, Duval hit only 11 of 28 fairways, 18 of 36 greens in regulation, and averaged 31.5 putts per round. Even the novice fan knows those aren't winning numbers.

Will he come back to his previous form? Ask any tour player and he'll say Duval will absolutely come all the way back. Perhaps, but golf is a mental game. If Duval keeps shooting huge scores in big events, his confidence is bound to collapse and his game may never recover.

Stay on the range and the practice green, David. When your game comes back to you, you can come back to the game.
-- Jason Sobel