An Open Letter To David Duval

Jeff WaddingtonContributor IMarch 23, 2009

Dear David:

Forgive me if I seem informal, but I feel like I know you personally. I never really paid much attention to golf until the late 1990s and you were quickly singled out as my favorite player.

I’m not sure why exactly. Obviously, you were enjoying success on tour, so it was easy to root for you.  But it went deeper than that. Since I had never played much golf, your swing was so natural and effortless, almost as if you weren’t really trying.

Your on-course demeanor was just like your swing and as you strolled up and down the fairways with your wraparound Oakleys and a big dip in your bottom lip, you became a guy I could relate to.

Because of you, I became a huge golf fan even before the 2001 Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s Golf Club. But that championship pushed my fancy for golf into a full blown addiction.

I was riveted to the television as you completely dominated the field on the weekend, shooting 65-67 to win your first of what I was sure would be many major championships.

The anticipation of the future was nearly palpable as I considered the possibility of watching you and Tiger Woods battling for golf supremacy throughout the next decade.  I mean, seriously, what reasonable person could expect anything less?

You had won 13 times on tour between 1997 and 2001, including spending 15 weeks as the number one ranked golfer in the world. And to top it off, you were just coming into your 30s, when most golfers really start to hit their stride. 

It was all right there and golf fans around the world were thinking they would be able to tell their grand-kids how lucky they were to be alive to see it.

So, if this seems a bit strong, I apologize but…what the hell happened?

There have been numerous reports that include injuries and a battle with vertigo.  Okay, I can live with that. Every athlete deals with injuries at some point in their careers.

Then you got married, moved to Colorado and started a family. I get that too. The demands of a new marriage and family can be overwhelming.

Most athletes either overcome their injuries or retire from their chosen sport.  Most successful people find ways to balance the demands of family and their profession.

Although you're not there yet, you continue to tease me and like a donk, I buy in and keep thinking it's right around the corner...

Like the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot. Most people remember that event for the 17th hole implosion by Phil Mickelson that handed the title to Geoff Ogilvy. Me? I remember it for your top 20 finish.

Then came the Open Championship in 2008 at Royal Birkdale. After the second round, you were in the top 10 and I could not have imagined a more fitting backdrop for you to announce to the world that you were back. You fell out of contention on Saturday, but a solid round on Sunday allowed you to finish T-39.

However, these signs of life are starting to appear as nothing more than shooting stars just before they flicker out completely. Six events in 2009 have led to only two cuts made and no finish in the top 50.

Look David, it’s been eight years since you won the Open Championship and subsequently fell off the face of the golfing earth. It’s time to cut the crap and either commit or “get off the pot.”

I sincerely hope it’s the former (and I’m sure Nike does too)—you have always been my favorite player and the one who made me a fan of golf. The game needs you and you have a gift. Use it.

You are down to your final PGA Tour exemption in 2009 and there aren’t any more excuses.  It’s time.



P.S.  I must confess an ulterior motive for writing you. You see, a couple of years ago, I made a little wager with a friend of mine that you would once again win a tournament on tour. Any tournament at all—even one during the silly season.

If you win, I win—and my prize is a bottle of extremely expensive scotch. During these tough economic times, I can use all of the help I can get.  So if you won't do it for yourself, your sponsors or for the game, how about for me? 

I really like good scotch.