Everybody’s favorite story at the U.S. Open was Phil Mickelson. His close-but-not-quite (again!) attempt to finally win his national championship, and for Amy, no less.
But my favorite story was that of David Duval. He spent 15 weeks as the top-ranked golfer in the world in 1999, going back and forth with Tiger Woods. He won the British Open in 2001, and then he started a slow fade. The fade turned into a free fall in 2002, and the next year, he fell off the face of golf’s earth.
The nadir came in Cromwell in 2003. He shot a first round 83 in the GHO (that was the year of Suzy Whaley, who shot a first round 75.) Duval, embarassed and frustrated, packed up his clubs and left.
He’s been “trying to find his game,” as they say, ever since. It seems he found it in 2009, in the unlikliest of tournaments and venues, the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black.
I can’t imagine what it’s like to be the best at what you do, and suddenly and publicly lose it. But I admire David Duval for hanging in there, working at it, and reemerging on the leaderboard of a major tournament.
Duval won’t be teeing it up this week at the Travelers Championship in Cromwell. I wouldn’t be surprised if he never wanted to see the course again, which might be understandable.
But even though he won’t be spending time with us, and with all due respect to Phil and Amy, David Duval was the story of the weekend.