All week they tried to figure it out, this place where the wind
cracks its cheeks every time it hears the clack of golf spikes,
this brown moonscape with its 197 bunkers scattered like shallow
graves and its rough so high that Ray Liotta and the 1919 Black
Sox might just step out and start playing catch at any moment.
All week, too, Alec Harvey, a small, quiet-spoken man from Perth,
Scotland, bided his time and waited for them to be done. For 34
years Harvey has been doing this job, engraving the winner's name
on the claret jug. Waiting for somebody to figure it out.
Somebody always does.
Maybe it would be an American, but the odds and history were
against that. Bobby Jones and Tom Lehman came here and won, in
1926 and '96, respectively. They ran against the grain though.
Royal Lytham offers golf, but not as America knows it. Truth be
told, most Americans aren't even sure if they like this
experience. Where's the fun? And what's your wife supposed to do
all day? Go to Blackpool and eat jellied eels?
Finally it took a pale, weedy guy with wraparound shades to
figure it out. It took an introvert, a Floridian without a tan, a
guy almost written off as the greatest casualty of the Tiger era.
It took David Duval.
From the tangle of 20 or so plot lines that could have unspooled
after play finished on Saturday night, perhaps his was the
strongest. The first time Duval saw the course at Royal Lytham
and St. Annes, he fell in love with it. Five years ago he
realized the control it demanded, the discipline it required. He
knew straight off it was for him. This was a course he could
Nobody else saw it that way. What most people saw was Duval
shooting a four-over-par 40 on the back nine on Friday to finish
with a 73 (two over par and two below the cut line after his
opening 69). He stooped under the wire and into the weekend by
dropping just about every putt. Royal Lytham shrugged, but Duval
knew. He was putting again.
Funny thing. With that second round finished, Duval, 29, walked
from the 18th green to the clubhouse completely unimpeded. Not
one autograph hunter. Not one second glance. "There goes
yesterday's next big thing," said somebody behind Duval's back.
Meanwhile, Colin Montgomerie holed out in the group behind, and
the press went back to attend to the growing Montymania. The
bookmakers were just as cold, raising Duval's odds to 33 to 1.
Stoicism has always been a Duval trait, however. He has never
sold himself as a victim of anything. This is the man, after all,
who as a nine-year-old kid lay on a bed with a needle the size of
a javelin driven deep into him so that he might donate bone
marrow to his 12-year-old brother, Brent. Brent was dying of
aplastic anemia, but that's simply one more thing that David has
never felt comfortable speaking about.
"Everybody's life experiences shape them in some way, and David
is no different," said his fiancee, Julie McArthur, on Sunday
evening. "His point [in seldom speaking about Brent] was that he
didn't want to be singled out and made different. Everybody else
in this room can tell you a sad story. David's point was, I am
not a martyr to my past."
That difficult childhood has always informed Duval's career. The
best part of solace back then was to be found pelting practice
balls at Timuquana Country Club in Jacksonville. The easiest
connection with his golf-pro father, Bob, was a talk about stance
and grip and slowing down that backswing. Even now Bob Duval can
iron out a kink in David's swing just by turning away from the
television and picking up the telephone.
Sometimes he doesn't have to. On Sunday, when he watched on TV
back home as his son split the fairway on 18 and strolled from
the tee box with a three-shot lead, well, "it just looked like he
was having fun," Bob said. He was. What's more, if there had been
a time when golf wasn't a joy but a comfort, that went into
making Sunday all the sweeter.
There has never been a lightness to being David Duval, but last
weekend he found a place where he was happy. Through his college
years at Georgia Tech he lived in the shadow of Phil Mickelson,
the star at Arizona State. Then he endured a year on the Nike
tour before emerging fully grown in time to be eclipsed by Tiger
Heading into his 27th major championship, Duval's resume was full
of quirky achievements, like shooting a 59 at the Bob Hope or
being part of the first father-and-son team to win tournaments on
the same Sunday. Nothing too eye-catching, no Grand Slam
victories, just a bunch of near misses and hard-luck stories in
the agate type of the footnotes.
"He's never talked about the frustration of not winning a major,"
Bob said on Sunday evening. "All he's ever said is that he should
have won two or three Masters, that he had played well enough but
someone just played better."
On Sunday nobody else played nearly as well. All the while, as it
unfolded, Duval was having the oddest thoughts. There he was,
playing in the final pairing with an old idol of his, Bernhard
Langer, on the course he loved, on the cusp of a major he craved,
and Duval couldn't stop himself from thinking like a heretic.
"This is just a silly old game we play," he said afterward. "I
kinda thought at times, It's funny how much is made about it
because we are playing a game. I've made it a lot bigger than it
is too, at times. Maybe that's some of the reason I felt so good
today. Maybe I finally realized it's only a game."
That's been the theme of the season for Duval. In the weeks
before he came to England, he kicked back and did other things:
Went fly-fishing, went mountain biking, did some running and a
few workouts and "just cleared my head," he said.
It worked. Saturday's back nine had been a fiesta of bogeymaking
by the big names, but Duval quietly played himself into
contention with a 65. On Sunday the sole threat came from Niclas
Fasth, a Swede whose main claim to fame was his attempt in 1998
to play both the European and PGA tours, thus making himself
unrecognizable on two continents.
This was Fasth's first major, and all day Sunday, as the leaders
scattered like buckshot, he could feel Duval's breath on his
neck. Playing nearly two hours ahead of the leaders, Fasth called
close of business at seven under. It never looked like enough,
not with Duval so kicked back and relaxed.
On Friday of Open week (he'd just shot a second-round 73, don't
forget) Duval had even played a little hooky. The driving range
beckoned, and he thought about joining his colleagues as they
furiously set about patching up their games. Instead Duval took a
few glances at himself swinging in front of the locker room
mirror, decided that not much needed fixing and headed for an
early dinner with Julie. "I just knew my game was there," he said
on Sunday. "I knew I could call upon it, and I knew my putting
was good. If the putter is good, I relax."
So he did. Meanwhile everyone else fizzled out. For two days the
excitable British press had noted the imprisonment of Lord
Jeffrey Archer on the front pages and the liberation of the
38-year-old Montgomerie on the back. Monty, who has had to face
every obstacle except popularity over the years, was suddenly
swaddled up to his bosom in sentimentality. Having never before
broken 70 in the first round of a British Open, he had shot 65 on
Thursday to take a three-stroke lead.
Careless! There are those who believe that Monty is your fussy
old aunt trapped in the body of a golfer, but by Friday he was
proceeding through the rabble like an emperor. His face
registered his surprise that the populace had come to praise him
and not to bury him. Britain demanded of Monty that he seize the
Monty declined, and by Saturday the jig was up. By then four
players--Duval, Langer from Germany, Ian Woosnam from the past
and Alex Cejka from Czechoslovakia (but now a German)--were
bunched in the lead at six under par. Behind them were nine more
players within a shot and six more within two shots. Some big
names were lurking in there: Darren Clarke, Jesper Parnevik and
Nick Price. However, what really made a landmark out of the
leader board was the name that was absent. At Royal Lytham the
bunkers were as inevitable as death and taxes. Everyone
succumbed. Even Tiger.
For Tiger watchers the wilderness weeks stretch on. The British
bookies had Woods at 7 to 4 to repeat his St. Andrews trick of
last year and not hit a bunker all week. He had sand between his
toes five times on Thursday and by Saturday was using eyewash to
get the stuff out from beneath his lids. Things got worse from
there, and by the time he finished, he was at one under, tied for
Of those who threatened, it was Woosnam, a throwback, who came
closest. Now as unfashionable as sideburns and medallions, the
little Welshman will reflect on this one into his old age. He'll
remember how he barreled onto the 1st tee on Sunday, drew his
blade and sent his first shot to within six inches of the hole.
"Go-awrnn, Woosie!" came the shout as he drained the birdie putt
and restored himself to a share of the lead.
On the 2nd tee box, lo, the grim reaper arrived. Woosie
discovered that he had more than the limit of 14 clubs in his
bag. Two-shot penalty!
His response was untouched by serenity. Woosnam vented. Tossed
his hat. Fished the surplus driver out of his bag and flung it
away. Minutes later came an ominous announcement in the press
room: "We are endeavoring to find out more about Ian Woosnam's
caddie." A prayer for the boy, Myles Byrne, one of a family of
caddying brothers from County Wicklow in Ireland, seemed
Woosnam, furious and distracted, bogeyed the next two holes
before recovering for an eagle three at the 6th. He began putting
his round back together. Even Byrne briefly lost the
dead-man-walking look when Woosie birdied 11 and 13. Too little,
too late, though.
Inexorably, the story was Duval. He was impeccable even when he
wobbled. An errant tee shot on 15 put him in the left rough on
Sunday, but his resolution was almost luminous now. He swept the
ball out with a six-iron and brought it to rest 210 yards away on
the green. Par assured and toughest hole conquered, he was on his
way to a 67. With his first major at his fingertips, Duval looked
like golf's next big thing again.
By 9 p.m. he was off the ground at Manchester Airport, headed for
Toronto. He left behind an empty seat in that purgatorial waiting
room for great players who have never, you know--whisper it--won a
He also erased a memory. On Sunday at St. Andrews last year,
David and Julie waited patiently for Woods, with whom they were
flying back to the States. David and Julie stood and watched the
parade as Tiger gathered his entourage and everyone was herded
giddily toward the cars. Watched as Tiger cuddled the claret jug.
One year later and the jug was now a carry-on item at Manchester.
It bears the handiwork of Alec Harvey, the humble engraver.
Something reassuring about Duval's gait had enabled Harvey to set
to work a little early. Now David Duval's name is right there,
tucked perfectly beneath that of his friend and rival, Tiger.
"I like the position of my name, right below his," Duval said.
"It looks like it is in the right spot."
succumbed. Even Tiger Woods.