by Jeff Skinner
The final round at the AT&T Pro-Am gave us an interesting afternoon of golf. While Dustin Johnson was winning his second AT&T title there were a few other dramas playing out on the course. At different times of the day David Duval and Paul Goydos were challenging Johnson for the lead. Goydos was in the lead before a meltdown started with consecutive birdies on eleven and twelve and then exploded with a quadruple bogey on fourteen. The nine on the par five fourteenth was actually predicted by Goydos.
Johnson and Goydos were standing in the fairway with Goydos leading by one shot, waiting for Bryce Molder to hole out on the fourteenth green. Molder was having a problem getting the ball to the hole from in front of the green and finally holed out with a score of nine. As he was finishing up Goydos, who is never shy about speaking to anyone, even if it his is opponent in the last group on the last day of a tournament they are both competing in, says to Johnson, “If you don’t go for it, you’re going to make a big number.” He meant that you had to shoot for the green on fourteen or you would have difficulty making par. He was prophetic as he left his third shot in the same place that molder had. His fourth landed on the green but then rolled to the back and down a steep slope, his fifth never made it back up the slope and rolled back down the hill. He was sure to put his sixth shot on the green but it carried 22 feet past the hole. His putt (seventh shot) went six feet past and he missed that with his eighth shot. His ninth shot was a two foot putt that found the hole and ended his chance at the win. It was painful to watch and made more so by his prediction of possible trouble around the green.
Goydos squandered his chance to win but “Sunshine” as he is known by his fellow players was his usual philosophical self afterward, “It wasn’t like I didn’t try on all nine shots,” Goydos said. “The ninth one I really wasn’t all that excited about. Just everything I did on that hole didn’t work out.” You have to love his attitude.
David Duval played a wonderful round of golf and was tied for the lead as Dustin Johnson teed off on the final hole. His 69 was the best round of the day by any of the leaders and you can see that his game seems to be back. He finished tied for eleventh in Greens in Regulation and was fifth in Putts per GIR for the week. His $545,600 payday will certainly help him regain his fulltime playing privileges on tour.
After his round you saw a smiling Duval waiting on the putting green, playing with his children while Johnson finished on eighteen. This is a different Duval, different from the loner that won the Open Championship in 2001. He is a happy man: happy with his family and his golf. “Well, I feel like I played really well today. Hit the ball good. It was a little harder out there today. I don’t know if it was the wind change or what, and maybe playing it down and the ball moving around a little bit more than it would normally.”
When he was asked about the strong support he got from the gallery he acknowledged that it means something to him, “Well, it’s important. It’s a nice thing. I’m very appreciative of it and very cognizant of it. I just believe — my guess is that with where I’ve been and what I’ve gone through, I think that the fact that – at least I feel like I’ve kept my head high through it all and acted like a professional and haven’t quit – I think that people — I think that if anything, that tends to endear you with fans.”
Duval finished his interview with some philosophy and a simple recipe for success,” You know, in the end, I kind of see it as this is what I do, and I’m pretty good at what I do. I’ve had some struggles for a while, long while, and I feel like I’m kind of getting back on top of everything how I want to. This is what I expect of myself. I expect to play well. With that said, that doesn’t mean, you know, you’re gonna have a chance to win every week. But to expect to be in control most of the time with what you’re trying to do. So, for some reason I was blessed and I was given a gift. I had some struggles with it, but I feel like I’m pretty good at it still. It’s what I certainly want to do. I’m just gonna go, you know, try to hit a lot of fairways in Mexico next week and hit a lot of greens. It’s really a simple recipe. Successful golf is a very simple recipe. I will try to do that again next week.”
These two players flirted with victory but both fell short, one fell a little harder than the other but both of them are about as comfortable with themselves as a man can be. Going through tough times will either wear a man down or build up his character. It’s easy to see that Duval and Goydos aren’t worn down at all.