by Jeff Skinner
I am sure there are many interesting storylines taking place at The AT&T Pro-Am at Pebble Beach but none is more intriguing than David Duval continuing his attempt to regain what he had that at one time had made him the best player in the world. Duval sits in seventh place, but only one stroke back of six players all knotted for the lead.
Duval’s comeback hit its high watermark last year at the US Open when he tied for second place but he had no finish higher than his tie for 55th at this tournament. So far this year he has a missed cut and had a tie for 76th but this week he is looking like the guy that butted heads with Tiger Woods ten years ago. Duval had an astounding few years after he found a way to win his first PGA tournament in 1997. With three wins in ’97 he followed that with two consecutive four win seasons in 1998 and 1999. In 2000 he had one win before claiming his first major at the 2001 Open Championship.
At The Open he beat his buddy Tiger, flew home with him, became World Number One and quickly lost his zeal for the game. The Open Championship was the last of his thirteen PGA Tour victories. Duval has said when he won The Open he felt unfulfilled and asked himself “is this it?” He had won his major but soon lost his game.
In his prime Duval was incorrectly thought of as aloof and unfriendly but he was misunderstood. He was just a private man with a tendency to look inwards for his satisfaction rather than on a golf course. When one door closes another one opens, that was the case for Duval. He may have lost his golf game but Duval found new meaning in his life when he met and married a single mom with a readymade family. Since then he has a growing family and has taken a different perspective on what is important in his life. He has said he wants his kids to see him play like he had earlier in his career. Unlike some, he appears to mean it when he says it is family first and golf somewhere else. He is a different man than he was when he reached the pinnacle of his career.
Duval will give it his best shot over the weekend to win The AT&T but if he doesn’t, he won’t be disheartened. He’ll keep teeing it up and trying to improve for while golf is an important part of his life it isn’t his life any longer.