Chris Baldwin This Week at August 23, 2005

Forget Tiger, David Duval remains the
most compelling untold story in golf

While Tiger Woods was winning the WGC-NEC Invitational for the fourth time, talking of adding Sam Snead's career victories record to his dogged Nicklaus pursuit, the former wraparound sunglass robot that once stood in a rookie Tiger's way was flailing away in Reno, Nev. David Duval shot a 15 over in the Reno-Tahoe Open, finishing 36 strokes behind the immortal Vaughn Taylor and missing his 14th cut in 15 tournaments played this year (only the rain-shortened Nissan Open saved Duval from a perfect 15 for 15).

Yes, David Duval played in the other tournament of the weekend and still managed to be about as competitive as Ashley Olsen in an arm wrestling match with Ray Lewis.

This isn't news of course. Duval's been floundering for years now but the sure scope of his fall remains the most unexplained, compelling story of the PGA Tour. The former world No. 1 has now pocketed $3,877 in 2005 winnings.

That's not funny. Chris DiMarco blowing a chance at another win, finishing second to Tiger yet again, is sort of amusing. Vijay Singh's inability to read a putt when it matters is hilarious looked at from a caddie-karma point of view. Phil Mickelson tapping that Jack Nicklaus plaque at Baltusrol and promptly sending one into the high grass is side splitting when you consider even a bronze Jack apparently knows he and Phil should never be linked in history.

Let's face it, a lot of the reason we watch the world's best golfers is so all us bad golfers can be buoyed by just how hard this game is.

But it's doubtful even Kim Jong II could find pleasure in Duval's current state.

It's just freaky, one of those sports meltdowns that psychiatrists try to explain and end up sounding like they're speaking jibberish too. Duval is essentially Rick Ankiel, that flame-throwing Cardinals' phenom who just lost his ability to throw to the plate one fateful October day.

The new angle sportswriters have adopted on Duval is that he found true happiness now that he's out there, living in the rough, hacking his way to 80s. Which is as bunch of baloney as when everyone was writing how methodically unflappable Duval was behind those shades. No one knows Duval or what he's really thinking. He's long been one of the most guarded athletes.

No one needs to feel sorry for him. He's financially set for a few lifetimes. But it's impossible not to wonder about him.

As always, welcomes your comments.

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Bonaventure Country Club Perched on the edge of the
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Eagle Creek Golf Club Cleveland-area golf course Eagle
Creek is good enough for a gander

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