by Jeff Skinner
Rory McIlroy is back atop the Official World Golf Rankings and if he is as mature as we would like to think he may want to take some time to appreciate where he stands in this game. Fame and fortune follow those that climb to the top spot. But it can disappear as quickly as it came. Just ask David Duval.
Few players could strike it like Duval in his prime. From 1997 to 2001 he won thirteen PGA Tour tournaments. He shot a 59 on Sunday to win the ’99 Bob Hope Classic. He won the ’99 Players Championship on the same day his dad won on The Champions Tour. And when he won his first major at the 2001 Open Championship he supplanted Tiger Woods as the top golfer in the world.
It was the last win for the intelligent but introverted Duval who asked himself “Is this it?” The game lost its luster for Duval and he stepped away from professional golf.
Life got better for Duval as he married and settled into a comfortable life but the fire that burns in all over-achievers started to burn again and Duval has been trying to find his game. Over the past few years he has had some ups and downs. He tied for second at the U.S. Open in 2009, kept his tour card in 2010 but failed to keep it last year.
This year has been tough for Duval. He hasn’t made a cut in seven events on the PGA Tour. In 16 rounds his lowest score is 71 and can’t seem to find any semblance of a consistent game. He’s playing on sponsor’s exemptions and past champions status this year and he’s in the field at this week’s Valero Texas Open.
The PGA Tour isn’t easy, if you expect to stay on tour you have to perform, make some cuts and earn some cash. But it has never been about the money for Duval. When he was at his best it was always about the golf, the rest just followed.
The philosophical Duval is content with where he is and said recently that his game isn’t far off. “If I didn’t feel really good about what I’m doing and the things I’m doing, I wouldn’t be doing it, chasing it,” Duval said. “I’m playing well, I feel great about what I’m doing. And it’s just a matter of time.”
“I love playing golf; I love competing,” Duval said. “And I’m really good at it. Things haven’t quite added up for me over the last few years. But you know, it’s only a week away.”
Duval’s attitude will serve him well and for that matter those are words to live by whether you are a world number one or a weekend hacker.