The 2002 champ’s stroke average on the PGA Tour this year is a shade under 75; he’s made a paltry $13,000; and in 12 starts has made just one cut. With that kind of record, most fans would probably have been expecting some kind of scorecard carnage out there from the Jacksonville man as he set off at 9.53 this morning with Simon Khan and David Frost in the worst of the weather.
But how wrong they were to be. Three bogeys on both sides were offset by three birdies leaving him 3-over at the end of his round, currently in a tie for 35th place as I write. I waited by the 11th green to see him play his approach, having watched countless others fail to get up in two on this 436-yarder. Notorious tortoise, Simon Khan, was first to play (uncharacteristically quickly as it happens), but Double D deliberated for ages, swapping clubs several times before finally deciding on the perfect weapon. He then struck a low, drawing iron to the heart of the green before two-putting for par comfortably the best shot into that green while I was watching. And the pre-shot deliberation suggested he wasn’t just going through the motions, and wasn’t here to merely make up the numbers as a former champion with a long-lost golf game.
Afterwards, Duval revealed he wasn’t as surprised as everyone else to put together a decent score, as, in recent weeks, he felt he’d been hitting the ball well but ending up with just about the highest score possible given the quality of his ball-striking.
Asked how he rated the round, he was at first reluctant to rank it, before finally assessing it in this way: I guess the best way to put it is that when I got here, had they said, ’73 and you can go back to sleep’, I’d have said, ‘I’ll see you tomorrow!’
Good work David a strong contender for GM’s round of the day.