David Duval: Trying to Regain Respect

Ron FurlongAnalyst IIApril 22, 2010

AVONDALE, LA - APRIL 22: David Duval tees off on the 11th hole during the first round of the Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana on April 22, 2010 in Avondale, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

The leader board after the first round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans would make even the most diehard PGA followers scratch their heads a little at many of the names near the top. But there is one name that most could recognize, although even his name up near the top could be considered a head scratcher as well.

David Duval, after his first round 68, sits at -4, three shots back of leader Jason Bohn, in a tie for seventh. Duval is playing in his ninth tournament of the year and has made only three cuts. He missed the cut at this year’s first major in Augusta a couple weeks ago.

Duval has 13 career wins on tour, but has not won in almost a decade. His last victory came in 2001 at The Dunlop Phoenix Tournament in Japan. 2001 was the same year Duval won his only major as he won the British open. It has been almost nine years now since that Open title. He has made only seven cuts in majors since that win, and only two top tens, one of which came last year at the U.S. Open when he tied for second.

Now 38, Duval, if you haven’t seen him the last couple years, hardly resembles the man that was on top of the golf world a decade ago. Not only has the body gotten a little rounder, but the face has changed too. More to the point, he smiles a lot more. Duval is clearly a happier camper than he was when he was top of the world rankings. Golf is now fun for David Duval, which, according to him, wasn’t so much so back then.

Turning golf fun, however, has not equated into any wins during this comeback. Duval has been able to, like today, have a few low rounds here and there. What he has not been able to do is have any kind of consistency. Other than last year’s U.S. Open, when he finished in a tie for second at Bethpage Black, Duval has had difficulty stringing good rounds together.

So, one wonders exactly what to make of his good first round today. Are we in for an 80 tomorrow, or can he keep it together thru Friday and even into the weekend?

One thing on his side is the absence of many of the top ranked players in the world playing this week at the Zurich Classic. However, on the flip side of that, there are many hungry players looking to make a splash at this event, and they will not be intimidated by this version of David Duval. This David Duval has yet to earn any respect like the old Duval did.

But, before we feel too sorry for David, consider his age. At 38, Duval is really just entering his golf prime. Many golfers in recent years have peaked around age 40. Vijay Singh for one. Tom Lehman another. David Duval could be entering a fruitful time in his golf career.

Duval is currently ranked 118th, but he is 66th in FedEx Cup points. He’s also playing for a Ryder Cup spot as well. He is 18th on that list right now. A strong finish at The Zurich could do wonders for Duval’s Ryder Cup hopes, as well as his confidence heading through the summer into the next couple of majors; Pebble Beach in June and St. Andrews in July.