The US Open has been plagued by bad weather this year, but it has suffered from no shortage of great stories. My personal favorite is that of David Duval's possible return to form.
Duval, until he practically fell off the face of the earth during the 2003 season, was my favorite pro golfer for several years. I loved how he went about his business on the golf course: the guy was more stoic than Hemingway's eponymous Old Man. He never bought into being a celebrity, and didn't really care to be one, either. Blessed with one of the most rhythmic swings on tour, Duval became one of three pro golfers to shoot a 59 - yes, a 59 - in competition, and he did so in the final round of the Bob Hope Classic ten years ago by eagling the 18th hole to win.
He dethroned Tiger Woods as the world's number one player for a time, and he quickly earned the dubious distinction of being the best player never to have won a major. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride seemed to be his cruel fate in major after major. That is, until, he captured the Claret Jug by winning the Open Championship in 2001. I'll never forget that tournament. I was living down the Jersey shore for the summer with a couple of buddies and it just so happened I had the place to myself when Duval figured out a way to win while not even playing his best golf.
And then, as they say on every E True Hollywood Story, tragedy struck.
Some say it was the swing. Some say it was physical injuries. Some say it was a form of vertigo. Some say it was personal troubles. Who knows why, and even Duval himself might now know why, but for whatever reason or reasons, he lost his game. As the oft-repeated saying goes, you never own the game of golf; at best, you only borrow it for a short time.
He'd played a cut swing for most of his career, one that was so finely tuned he'd all but taken the left side of the golf course out of play. But suddenly he was hitting hooks and couldn't find a fairway. His motivation and his competitiveness, right around the same time, left him. He struggled. Every once in awhile, he would show flashes of brilliance, popping back up on the radar screen just long enough to make us wonder. But he couldn't seem to break through.
And that's why it's so exciting to see he's currently tied for third at the US Open, with sixteen holes left to play. This isn't a flash in the pan, play well for 18 holes sort of thing. Duval has put in a wonderful performance at one of the toughest venues out there: Bethpage Black. Though he's five shots behind the leaders, it IS the US Open, so anything can happen, especially at a course known to wreak havoc. It would be the golf story of the year if he were to win.
5 days ago