1 Chases The Big One That Got Away On the final day of last year's Masters, David Duval appeared on the oakley golf verge of victory.
He reached the 16th tee holding a three stroke lead. Even after making a bogey at No. 16, Duval made pars at both No. 17 and No. 18 to stay in the lead. After he left the 18th green, Duval and several close friends were whisked into a private cabin to watch Mark O'Meara and Fred Couples finish. At worst, Duval figured his final round 67 had secured a playoff spot. But the next few minutes became the most disappointing of his career. With birdies at No. 15 and No. 17, O'Meara tied Duval. And as O'Meara stood over his 20 foot birdie attempt at No. 18, Duval sat helplessly on a couch, watching on television as the Masters title slipped away. ''Don't worry, David, nobody makes that putt,'' Duval recalled hearing from Jack Stephens, former chairman at Augusta National, before O'Meara struck the ball. Continue reading the tenis oakley main story ''How did it feel?'' Duval recalled. ''It was kind of like, ugh, what happened? It was a shock, but in a way, it wasn't a surprise, not with Mark putting. How could I be bitter? I shot five under par Sunday at the Masters. That's nothing to scoff at. And I proved to myself that I could handle that situation.'' A year later, Duval is ranked No. 1 in the world and playing better than anyone else. On Sunday, he won his fourth event of the year and his second straight start the BellSouth Classic and has already won more than $2.5 million to break the earnings record he set last year. But when the Masters begins Thursday, Duval will try to right what went wrong for him last year, in his quest to win his first major championship. The lack of a major is the one glaring hole in the resume of the 27 year old Duval, and he intends to correct that sooner, not later. The Masters ends a three week stretch that has special significance for Duval: The Players Championship was held a few miles from where he grew up; the BellSouth was his first professional tournament and played in front of many friends from his Georgia Tech days, and the Masters is the Masters. ''I don't view it as intimidating,'' he said Sunday about trying to win three weeks in a row. ''I think it is helpful to win the week before you go somewhere. It makes you realize that what you are doing is right, and I know I can oakley sunglasses cheap outlet do it.'' But the pressure at the Masters is different. No one has ever won the Players Championship and at Augusta in the same year. And other players are just as motivated as he. O'Meara is the defending champion, Tiger Woods is the 1997 winner who has been supplanted by Duval as the world's top player, and Couples is the 1992 Masters champion who tied Duval for second last year, just a stroke from a playoff. Throw in the mix a long list of contenders who have won majors but never the Masters: Davis Love 3d, Ernie Els and Justin Leonard. But after his impressive string of victories, Duval is the favorite. And his one stroke loss last year only bolstered the confidence of a player who doesn't need more. ''Would I be surprised if 10 years from now, I still haven't won the Masters?'' asked Duval, repeating a question. ''Yeah, I might be. I feel I have the game for that golf course. I would anticipate that before I'm done, I'll get one.'' After last year's ending, Duval hardly needs motivation. While O'Meara was basking in victory, Duval left Augusta National Golf Club and returned to the house he rented for the week. He was greeted by friends and well wishers, all of them trying to cheer him up. But before long, Duval couldn't take any more. ''Don't try to console me,'' Duval announced to the crowd. womens oakleys on sale ''I appreciate it. But there simply is no consolation.'' It took a few days for Duval to recover. But since then, he has returned to doing what he does best: playing world class golf. He has won 11 times during the past 18 months, one of the most impressive streaks of this decade. In two years, he has made a meteoric rise from being a player knocked for not winning to being a player whom people expect to win. Already, Duval has put together a great year in a little more than three months. In addition to winning the Players Championship and the BellSouth Classic, he won the Mercedes Championships and the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. He became only the third player in PGA Tour history to shoot a 59, which happened during the final round of the Hope. And he won the Players Championship on the same day that his father, Bob Duval, won the Senior Tour Emerald Coast Classic, making them the first father and son to win tour events on the same day. Newsletter Sign Up Continue reading the main story Duval's talent is obvious, but his hunger and his ability to focus separate him from the crowd. His game face has become familiar: a stoic demeanor behind Oakley sunglasses, a player who makes plenty of birdies while showing little emotion. Opponents who are paired with Duval marvel at his concentration, watching him hit quality shot after quality shot, almost expecting batteries to fall out of his back. Yet, those close to Duval describe the native of Jacksonville Beach, Fla., as a person unchanged by success. He has the same circle of friends, a down to earth nature and a giving heart. During the Christmas holidays last year, Duval saw on television that a local toy drive for children was running short on cash. Duval called the phone number for donations, and told the person on the other end that if someone came to his house the next morning, he would write a check to cover everything. ''That's David,'' said Puggy Blackmon, who coached Duval at Georgia Tech. ''I'd be shocked if success ever changed him. That's what I'm most proud of, not only his success, but how he has handled it.'' Few players seem more equipped than Duval to handle Augusta, where the keys to victory are putting coupled with accurate approach shots into Augusta's lightning quick, undulating greens. And Duval feels much more comfortable at Augusta than he did in 1997, when he missed the cut, making a 9 on the par 5 No. 15. ''That was complete inexperience,'' Duval said. ''I had laid up left, a pretty good place to lay up, with the cup on the front left side. But I dumped the next one into the water. ''Then I watched Nick Price play the hole, and he played it way right of the pin. That's Augusta. There's a lot of local knowledge you need to have, and I've picked up a tremendous amount.'' With his great power off the tee, Duval has the advantage of hitting shorter irons into greens than most players. His pinpoint precision with short irons and wedges leaves him with many birdie opportunities. His solid putting stroke holds up under pressure. And his intelligence and course management help him avoid the double bogeys and triple bogeys that ruin rounds. Simply put, Duval has as complete a package as anyone in the game, and the final piece was learning how to win on the tour. Duval finished second seven times before his first victory at the 1997 Michelob Championship at Kingsmill in Williamsburg, Va. During his string of runner up finishes, people questioned his confidence under pressure. Those close to him knew better. ''David never doubted himself, and now that he's winning, he's enjoying it,'' said Julie McArthur, his longtime girlfriend.
''People are seeing that he's a wonderful player. He is letting his play speak for him.''.
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