Currently, one of the world's best golfer
s and winner of the 2001 British Open
. However, has had the misfortune
of playing golf
in the same time period as Tiger Woods
, thus his own successes and skills
are often overshadowed
Duval and Woods are very different. Woods is enthusiastic and charismatic. He shows extreme emotions on the course, and his strong personality has led to great success off of it.
Duval is much more reserved and calm. He usually wears sunglasses (due to "eye stigma which causes sensitivity to light", according to PGAtour.com), which makes him seem more distant and less approachable. Perhaps unfairly, this has set Duval up as a sort of "anti-Tiger". Regardless, the two are friendly rivals and will likely remain so for the next decade or longer.
Duval (DOB: November 9, 1971; Jacksonville, Florida) attended college at Georgia Tech and was a four-time All-American, winning the Collegiate Player of the Year award in 1993. That same year, Duval turned pro.
In his first year as a pro (1993), Duval mostly competed on the Nike Tour (now the Buy.com tour), winning the Wichita Open in August and the Tour Championship in October.
The next year, Duval also competed primarily on the Nike Tour (competing in 22 events, as compared to just 6 events on the PGA Tour). He had no wins in either tour that year, but finished in the top ten in 10 of the 22 Nike events.
In 1995, Duval moved to the PGA Tour full-time, competing in 26 events. He finished 2nd three times, and in the top ten on 8 occasions, earning close to one million dollars in winnings on the year.
1996 was more of the same. 23 events, finishing 2nd twice. Although he had not won a tournament yet in his 2 full seasons on the PGA Tour, Duval was still improving, and at the end of the year was just 25 years of age. He also played in the 1996 President's Cup (as he also would in 1998 and 2000).
Duval finally broke his losing streak, winning in a playoff at the Michelob Championship at Kingsmill in October 1997. The next week, Duval won his second straight tournament (Walt Disney World/Oldsmobile Classic), again in a playoff. Duval's back-to-back playoff wins were a PGA first. After a week off, Duval won his 3rd straight tournament, earning a one shot victory over Jim Furyk at the PGA Tour Championship. He had arrived.
In 1998, Duval won four events (Tucson Chrysler Classic, Shell Houston Open, NEC World Series of Golf, and a repeat win at the Michelob Championship at Kingsmill). He also had his best ever performance at a major tournament, finishing in a tie for 2nd at The Masters, one stroke before Mark O'Meara.
It seemed only a matter of time before Duval would win a major. However, this would not happen in 1999. Duval won four more tournaments, most notably shooting a final-round 59 to win the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. The 59 ties Duval for the lowest round ever on the PGA Tour. He also passed Tiger Woods to become the #1 ranked golfer (according to the Official World Golf Ranking). Duval also played on his first Ryder Cup team, going 1-2-1 in his matches. In addition, he lost to Woods in a match play event known as the Showdown at Sherwood. This was the first ever network-televised golf event shown in primetime.
2000 was a small step backwards for Duval, as he won only one tournament (Buick Challenge). In addition, he was out of action for 2 months with a back injury. Duval performed weight training and lost about 40 pounds. As a result, he had to rework his swing to fit his body. (Thanks dannye for that info). Also in 2000, Duval finished in a 3rd place tie at The Masters, 4 strokes behind Vijay Singh. For all his success, Duval had not been able to one of the four major championships. This often earned him the unfortunate nickname of "The Best Golfer To Have Never Won A Major". Meanwhile, Tiger Woods had exploded onto the golf scene, surpassing Duval on the golf course (and also off of it, as far as fans and also sponsorships.
The 2001 Masters was a microcosm of the previous few years for Duval. He finished 14 shots under par, which would have won the tournament...if not for Tiger Woods. Tiger finished two strokes ahead, again overshadowing Duval.
However, the 2001 British Open, held at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club, would be different. His third round 65 (6-under par) placed Duval in a first-place tie. He followed that up with a 4-under 67, winning the tournament by 3 strokes (finishing at 10-under par total). Woods struggled, finishing 9 shots behind Duval. The monkey had been lifted off Duval's back. He had finally won a major.
On July 30, 2001, in another made-for-TV match play primetime event (the Battle at Bighorn), Duval and teammate Karrie Webb lost to a team of Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam.
David Duval's future certainly looks bright. His game's near its peak, and he's just 29 years old (at the time of the this writeup). The younger Woods has certainly accomplished more up to this point, but both players (hopefully) have long careers ahead. Duval should win his fair share of tournaments.
Special thanks to PGATour.com, whose tournament-by-tournament player results make much of the detail provided above possible.