Two years ago David Duval was 29 and on top of the world. A
freshly minted $28 million pitchman for Nike, Duval was on the
verge of winning his first major, the British Open. He was also
about to jump to third in the World Ranking, establishing himself
as a player top-ranked Tiger Woods would have to contend with for
years. Now, in 2003, Duval is in trouble. That British Open was
his last win, and every facet of his game has deteriorated. (He's
174th in the Tour's All-Around ranking.) Since January 2002,
Duval has missed the cut in 20 of 41 starts, precipitating a fall
to 86th in the world. ¬∂ What caused Duval's collapse? Was it
injuries and illnesses (back, wrist and vertigo)? The breakup of
his eight-year relationship with Julie McArthur? A lawsuit with
Acushnet over his defection to Nike? Or did Duval simply lose his
swing? We asked six Golf Magazine Top 100 teachers to take a look
and tell us where they think Duval has gone wrong.
Duval has two problems, both of which are visible at address.
First, the lines of his neck and spine should be in sync
throughout the swing, especially at address, but they point in
different directions. His spine tilts to the right, but his
neckline tilts a little to the left. This contributes to a
reverse pivot that has become so pronounced that it has paralyzed
him. Second, Duval's grip has always been strong, but now it's so
strong that his left arm is too tense. At address his left elbow
points at the target rather than toward his left hip, resulting
in a very shut club face and a flat shaft plane.
PEBBLE BEACH GOLF ACADEMY
PEBBLE BEACH, CALIF.
July 13, 2003
Duval's game has deteriorated largely because of a flaw at the
start of his swing. During the takeaway he hinges his wrists in a
manner that closes the club face and causes him to drag the club
too far inside, putting him way off plane. That puts the clubhead
behind his body too early, while the shaft points too far to the
right of the target. At the beginning of the swing the entire
shaft should be in front of his body and parallel to the target.
To compensate for these errors, at impact Duval must lead
excessively with his left hand and rotate his body much more than
normal to defend against a hook.
SUNNINGDALE COUNTRY CLUB
Throughout his career Duval has always played with a slightly
closed club face, but when he was playing well, the face was more
open and was squared at impact, and he also swung on plane. Today
Duval's plane is too flat. His problems begin in the takeaway
when he hinges his wrists in an unusual way, causing him to lift
the grip end of the club while he sweeps the clubhead back along
the ground far to the inside and below his optimum plane angle.
The result of these peculiar motions is a closed club face and
poor plane, flaws that have greatly affected his ability to
perform under pressure.
MARK WOOD GOLF ACADEMY
An intense workout regimen made Duval lighter, stronger and more
flexible, but with his new body shape he can no longer make the
quirky moves that produced a dependable fade. In his backswing
Duval's shoulder plane is too steep, with the right shoulder much
lower than the left. That typically causes a steep swing, but
Duval's swing is now very flat. Combine this with a superstrong
grip, and you can see why his club face is shut and the shaft is
laid off at the top. In the downswing Duval slides rather than
pivots against a braced left leg, and his weight is on the
outside of his left foot.
GREEN GARDEN COUNTRY CLUB
Duval's unorthodox swing hasn't changed since he was a four-time
All-America at Georgia Tech. Duval has too much weight on his
left side at the top of his backswing, and during the downswing
he moves his upper and lower body even more to the left and past
the ball, when he should move only his lower body toward the
target. Before impact Duval knows he's too far ahead of the ball,
so he moves his head and upper body behind the ball by
aggressively spinning his hips. Years of making these stressful
motions have caused so much back pain that Duval can no longer
regularly make his unusual swing work.
TIMACUAN COUNTRY CLUB
LAKE MARY, FLA.
Duval needs to maintain the spine angle he has at address
throughout the swing to avoid being so reliant on timing. At the
top of his backswing Duval's spine angle tilts toward the target
when it should be angled away from it, as he was at address. At
impact he has shifted his spine back to the original position he
had at address. Duval has always had this reverse pivot, which
involves lots of shifting, but his injuries have made these
movements harder to repeat consistently. If Duval could get rid
of his reverse pivot--and doing so is quite feasible--he'd take a
positive step toward returning to top form.