Week at TravelGolf.com: November 22, 2005
David Duval battles gremlins
and Steve Blass Syndrome in Japan
It was 1972 and pitcher Steve Blass had it all. Having just turned
30, Blass was the ace of the Pittsburgh Pirates staff, just won his
100th Major League Baseball game, was a key part in the Pirates' 1971
World Series victory and was coming off a sterling season that saw him
go 19-8 with a 2.49 ERA and 11 complete games.
The road to the Hall of Fame was paved for Blass but in 1973 he just
plain forgot how to pitch. Known for pinpoint control, Blass, who was
healthy, stopped being able to throw strikes in games. Over the next two
years Blass went 3-9 with a dismal ERA near 10. Two years after owning
the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series, Blass was done and "Steve
Blass Syndrome" was born.
Other baseball players have encountered SBS over the years, few
having much success digging out of it. Rick Ankiel and Mark Wohlers come
to mind. Golf has had its SBS sufferers, as well. See: Curtis Strange.
This weekend, David
Duval may have taken a huge stride in becoming one of the few to (we
hope) throw off the shackles of SBS. After a brilliant start at the
Dunlop Phoenix Tournament in Miyazaki, Japan, Duval limped home with a
71-75 over the weekend. But it was good enough to leave him tied for
To say this could be a major breakthrough for Duval is not hyperbole.
As most are aware, Duval was the top player in the world not to long
ago. He has a British
Open victory on his resume, as well. But then, it was gone.
This year, in 20 tournaments entered on the PGA Tour, Duval made one
cut. One. His winnings? A little over seven grand. Our own Chris Baldwin
almost put up the same numbers this year. Basically, for Duval, the last
few years he's been ensconced with SBS. A back injury started it, more
injuries compensating for the back problems continued it, eventually
eroding his confidence.
Obviously, it's overly hopeful to start proclaiming that Duval is
back, but he is playing better, something that seemed highly unlikely
just a few months ago. Regardless, throughout his ordeal he's kept
working at getting it all back. That he even entered 20 tournaments this
year is impressive.
At 34, the window has been slightly opened again for Duval. Who knows
if it will ever fully open again - Steve Blass Syndrome doesn't cure
easily. But from what we know of, and have seen from Duval, one thing is
certain: He'll keep trying. And for this he deserves our respect and
cheers. As TravelGolf.com reader Shanks wrote: "What he has been doing
could be in Websters as a definition of persevere."
As always, TravelGolf.com welcomes your comments.
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Las Vegas can be a both a dream and a headache for a golf group leader.
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Nestled down in Lubbock, the Shadow Hills Golf Course is a place for
golfing purists. With extra attention paid to course conditioning,
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Full story | Also: Check out the TravelGolf.com Daily Blog crew