Who:David DuvalWhat: 12-foot birdie putt for share of the leadWhere: 178-yard par 3 17th hole at Pebble BeachWhen: Final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
David Duval has long been golf’s biggest enigma. He used to be a superstar with fully exempt Tour status, but now he’s a former star with no exempt status so he needs sponsor exemptions to get in tournaments. Recently, Duval has shown signs that he might end his decade-long slump. He tied for second at last year’s U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, and last week at the 2010 U.S. Open venue Duval had another runner-up finish. Were those near victories flukes? I don’t think so. My money says that Duval is back.
Top golfers are among the most competitive athletes in sports, and they never lose that competitiveness. Some players, including Duval, fade away from golf for reasons including burnout, boredom, a change in personal priorities or trying too hard. Duval experienced all of those things and more. Now, though, Duval seems to have his life and mind in order, so his mind has refocused itself on the challenge of competing at golf.
Duval’s advantage with his latest comeback is confidence, especially on the greens. Duval has always been a premier ballstriker, but his he was often not sharp on the greens because he didn’t believe in himself. He had a sour attitude and he beat himself up.
At Pebble Beach, Duval, who finished just one shot behind the winner, appeared to exude assurance and calm on the greens and he putted like a star. (He ranked fifth in putts per GIR and 18th in putts per round.) I think Duval will contend again when the U.S. Open returns to Pebble Beach in June. The Drill:My favorite drill to build confidence on the greens is a game called Four-Six-Ten. To play, find a hole in a flat part of a green. Make a mark with chalk or a tee four feet away from the hole. Then make two more marks six and 10 feet away. The three distance marks can be on the same line, but they don’t have to be. The goal is to make 10 four-footers, six six-footers and four 10-footers with just 20 putts. When you can do that, you’re a hell of a putter. To up the difficulty choose lines with more break.
Over time, look for patterns in which length putts you make the most and the least. The results will tell you what type of putts need the most work. Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher John Elliott is the
director of instruction at Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club in
Ocala, Fla. (Photo: Todd Bigelow/SI)