Of The Day
But, sometimes not every day.
31 shots on the front nine, 28 on the back. 6,950 yards in 59
shots. Every shot on national television, plus you started the
day seven shots back from the leader of the tournament. On the
way to the win, you did something no one in the history of golf
had ever done before: you won a tournament on the final day with
a sub-60 round. Two other players, Al Geiberger and Chip Beck
have shot 59, but not on the final day to win a tournament. His
opponent, Steve Pate, said, "I guess I was in the wrong
place at the wrong time."
This year Duval is a cumulative 52-under par in the Mercedes Championships and the Hope, his two 1999 tournaments, and has already earned a total of $1,008,000. Last year he set the PGA one-year earnings records with $2,591,031, and was not named Player of the Year.
For those of you who do not play golf and find it boring, think about this with me for a moment. You step to the first tee. You're a normal golfer who plays twice a week. It's a nice day, but windy. You're playing with Dave Duval. He says, "You go first." You walk to the tee, there are 4,000 people around the tee, another 20,000,000 watching on TV. They are all thinking, "Who in the name of God Almighty is this?" You have a 16 handicap,and up until this moment you were proud of that fact, having been as high as 28. You bend over to tee up your ball. Your pants are tight, you can hear the seams stress. You take a practice swing, it feels stiff and not fluid at all. You want to take another one, but are feeling the pressure, so you address the ball. The world goes quiet. You can hear the pounding of your own heart. You begin the swing. Somewhere in the downswing you lose concentration and the club head strikes the ball somewhere, you look up suddenly worried at how bad it might be. But, you hit it solidly with an unfortunate slice to the right. 200 yards maybe, in the deep rough. But, hey, it's out there. David is standing behind you, ball and tee ready to go. You sheepishly move off the tee. "Nice hit, Bill. Kinda of a lot pressure today, right?" You nod your head and you both laugh. All you can think of is that you're glad that's over. David is now addressing the ball and with a one-piece picture-perfect swing strikes the ball crisply and while you are staring at his beautiful follow-through he bends to get his tee and begins the walk to the next shot. You hear the announcer say, "That's about 300 yards straight down the fairway. Duval is in position 'A.'"
As you approach your ball, alone now, the cameras and the crowd are staying with Duval, you are asking your caddy for a 4-iron. "I've just got to get it out onto the fairway." The caddy hands you a six-iron, suggesting that that will be a safer club. "You can't get there anyway." You shake that off and grab the 4-iron, thinking you'd really like to hit the 3-iron. After address and a practice swing, you swing on the ball and top it 25 yards, still in the deep rough. "Now, give me that 6-iron," you say to the caddy." Your next shot is a "fluff," meaning you hit under the ball, reducing its potential distance by probably two-thirds, but it goes really high and it makes it onto the fairway by about three inches. You are still 165 yards from the green, and at least 40 yards behind Duval's tee-shot. It's still your shot. You hit another 4-iron, it slices into the trap next to the green. You lie four. Duval hits a beautiful pitching wedge from about 126 yards to five-feet from the pin. He lies two. On the way to the green and the next shots, he is carrying his putter as you chat. "Just a chip and a putt," he says to you, encouragingly. As you step down into the trap your mind is whirring. The sands seems so soft and deep. As you peer over the lip of the trap you can see David talking to a reporter. They both look over at you. The camera swings over as well. You take your open stance, you open the club face. You dig your feet in. You remember to follow-through and then you swing. There is a "poof" sound as the club passes under the ball. The ball flies. It lands on the green, 15 feet from the hole. You are exhilarated. The best trap shot you've had in many, many rounds. But, it's still your shot. Your sixth shot on a par four. Your caddy hands you your new Odyssey putter, there is sand all over you from the last shot in the trap. You are brushing if off of your shoulders and out of your hair as you approach the ball. "They probably think I have dandruff," you're thinking as you notice the camera following your slow progress across the green. You mark your ball. You clean it off. You replace it and address it for your first putt. You stroke it, and immediately you know it was too hard. The ball goes racing past the hole, past David's marker to about six and a half feet on the other side. "Wow," you think, "these are fast greens!" You go through your routine again, this time with a better result. Three feet past. "That's good!" says David. You pick up your ball for an eight. You're thinking, "What a tough hole." The crowd erupts in cheers as David makes his first birdie of the day. And then you think, "This is gong to be a long round of golf." As you walk to the next tee, you realize that Duval is already ahead by five shots.
So, for those of who don't play, perhaps this little story gives you some idea of how good he is. The average player never breaks 100, and only the top 20% of all golfers break 90. Only three golfers in the history of the game have ever broken 60 in a tournament. Only one golfer in the history of the game has done it in the final round to win. He won the tournament by only one stroke. Oh, yeah. These guys of the PGA are good!
Hole-By-Hole: Duval's Historic Round
At La Quinta
New Course Record: 13-under par. $540,000 first place prize.