David Duval will be back
David Duval’s story is so well known, it’s bears no purpose to recount in agonizing detail. In short, he was a college hotshot who came on Tour and played very well right off the bat. But he had this little problem to get over: he couldn’t close the deal and win. (I wonder if this sounds familiar to the Wie-Warriors?) High finish after high finish, he would have to endure the question from the press: Why aren’t you winning? Common perception amongst the players was that this kid was so good, once he figures it out, the wins will come in bunches. Right, they were, Yoda. He climbed all the way to Number 1 in the World Rankings and then finally won the 2001 Open Championship for his very first major title. Many in the golfing world thought it was he - not Tiger Woods - who would be The Man. Wrong. Everything went swiftly downhill and Duval slid off the face of the earth, becoming less than a shadow of his former self.
Fast forward to Japan a few days ago. He shoots a terrific 64 to grab the first day lead. That was quite something and a welcome sight. But seriously, against all hope, did I think “well, here comes the second round 75 and ultimately another low finish"? Yes, I did. One has to wonder if Duval wasn’t thinking exactly the same thing based upon his 2005 results. In case you haven’t been following, the sad tale is this: 20 tournaments entered in 2005, 1 made cut. One. So he steps on the 1st tee yesterday and bogies the first hole. After 8 straight pars Duval bogies the 10th. Two over par for the day through 10 holes, his mind MUST be reeling, as he ponders yet another discouraging event. But apparently, that was what WE would have been thinking.
Duval birdied 11, 12 & 14 and, as if to put a punctuation on it, he birdied the last to catch Tiger and get within one shot of the lead. Duval, you see, has the heart of a champion. He knows what it takes to win. He knows that he can fight through adversity. Well, Shanks, you ask, how did he know that? Quite simply, because he has done it before. Who knows what will happen next. But Duval has turned a big corner and will be back to contender status in the near future. And not a moment too late as his exempt status gained from winning the Open runs out at the end of 2006.
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It is impossible to predict what will happen with Duval, but it's clear that a sports psychologist is NOT enough. He needs personal counseling for a "loner" personality that shuns personal relationships. Without a support system, Tiger would be in the same boat. But whereas the fans and family of Tiger love him, Duval makes few friends and cannot sustain himself with confidence now that he's a more mature and thoughtful person in his 30s. Any close relationship that he could forge would help him towards his goal. Grit and determination are actually not necessary for his journey: but instead, self understanding, acceptance of others, and a trusting nature when it comes to relationships.
Duval's recent "run from the press" in the parking lot is evidence that he does not yet have the intellectual or emotional intelligence to comprehend what people want from him and what he, conversely, needs from them: simply put, he needs to make friends with himself so he can make friends with the world. From love we were made and without it, we will surely perish.
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