David Duval Revives Career at U.S. Open

Lucas Glover fights off rallies by Phil Mickelson and David Duval to win by two strokes at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, N.Y., capturing only the second victory of his PGA Tour career.
By Gene Wang
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 23, 2009

FARMINGDALE, N.Y., June 22 -- Ten years ago, David Duval was the best golfer in the world. He was in the midst of a season in which he wrested the top ranking from Tiger Woods, matched the lowest round in PGA Tour history with a closing 59 at the Bob Hope and won four times.

These days, Duval, 37, simply is trying to remain relevant in his profession. The 2001 British Open champion has not had a top 10 finish on tour since 2002, and this year he had missed the cut or withdrawn in nine of 13 events before his improbable second-place finish at the U.S. Open on Monday.

"I just knew that I had developed some very bad swing problems and through it had lost all confidence," Duval said. "I may have taken it a little bit for granted years ago."

Duval's game had fallen into such disrepair that all he could do was walk away in 2003. After withdrawing from a tournament in Japan that year, Duval took a seven-month hiatus before coming back to play in the 2004 U.S. Open.

Five years later and a short drive down the Long Island Expressway from that tournament at Shinnecock Hills, Duval was back at America's national golf championship, and he wasn't just contending but in position to win over the final holes.

"It's what I want. It may be arrogance, but it's where I feel like I belong," Duval said moments after finishing in a tie with Phil Mickelson and Ricky Barnes at 2 under at Bethpage Black. "I stand before you certainly happy with how I played but disappointed in the outcome. I had no question in my mind I was going to win the golf tournament."

Duval generated considerable buzz around the course after making a putt outside 50 feet for birdie at No. 8. As the gallery surrounding the green erupted when the ball fell into the hole, word soon spread Duval was within striking distance as he made the turn. He stood at No. 10 four shots behind eventual winner Lucas Glover, and by the time he reached 17, Duval was tied for first at 3 under.

At 17, a 207-yard par 3, Duval sent his 5-iron tee shot into the greenside rough between the bunker and the putting surface. Duval's mistake could have been more punitive were it not for a reasonable lie and ample green with which to work. Then, when his chip gained velocity and appeared headed toward the cup, spectators rose in anticipation.

"They were cheering for David," said playing partner Ross Fisher.

Those cheers turned to groans when the ball sped some five feet past the hole. Another near-miss soon followed, as Duval's par putt clipped the left edge of the cup, spun halfway around and came out, all but sealing second place with Glover having made birdie at 16.

Still, not bad for a player who had plummeted to No. 882 in the world rankings and had not finished in the top 15 of a major since the 2001 British. Buoyed by his marriage five years ago and becoming a father, Duval's outlook on both his golf game and his personal affairs are considerably different these days.

"I'd like to think I enjoyed it immensely, you know, eight, 10 years ago when I was on top of the world," Duval said. "But with a life that's a little more complete, I probably honestly enjoy it more now. I have no less desire at this point than I did back then. However, I probably feel like I don't simply do it for myself anymore, and that's a nice feeling."

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