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May 26, 1998

David Duval


WES SEELEY: We're joined by David Duval who is the only gentleman on tour who can say he's won twice this year.

DAVID DUVAL: How about that.

WES SEELEY: So why don't we start with your assessment of last week and how your game stands as you arrive.

DAVID DUVAL: I think it's pretty good. Last week I finished about where I usually do there. If I play good or play bad, I finish about 15th. It's a little difficult golf course for me; most holes are left-to-right winds. I'm pretty pleased; everything is in pretty good shape.

WES SEELEY: I turn to you.

Q. David, a recent article about how you are now the best American player. Would you agree with that?

DAVID DUVAL: I don't think it's fair for me to answer that.

Q. The way you're playing now, though.

DAVID DUVAL: I don't think it's really fair for me to answer that. I mean, that's --

Q. It's your opinion, though, it's --

DAVID DUVAL: Well, I don't have a right opinion in that, you know, I mean, if I say yes, then I'm extremely arrogant, if I say no, then I have no confidence. So there's not a right answer for me. That's best speculation. I think to be fair to every other player who -- who is playing really well, I don't think you can say that there is a best player week in week out. If you look back at the end of the year and say that's the best player that year, I think that's the most fair way to do it. All right.

Q. Are you confident coming here a couple of seconds and last year, in the top 20?

DAVID DUVAL: Yeah, I did all right last year, too. I want to play here, you know, they look after us unbelievably well here. I made a joke yesterday and it goes to show what they -- how they do for the players, they usually have these big vats of atomic fire balls, you know, those big hard fire balls. I said: What's going on, you know, you all are slacking, you know, just joking with them. I went out hit some balls and came back and there was some in my locker, so it's just fun being here. Nicklaus has certainly set up a venue that's second to none.

Q. How important is that relationship with the players, all the bad weather they have here and, you know, last year going five days and three rounds, all the good players still come back. How important is it the way they treat you to come to this tournament?

DAVID DUVAL: You know, I think it's very important, but at the same time, I guess you do want to have some good weather at some point, and I don't think I've really had much -- this will be about my fifth Memorial, maybe, and the weather hasn't been particularly good; I don't recall at any of them. So that -- you know, the way they look after you certainly you tend to forget about the weather a little bit. You know, if you have to be in rain delay, there's no better place to be in a rain delay than upstairs in that locker room.

Q. How does your practice routine change when you come to Muirfield, any difference?

DAVID DUVAL: No, not really. I don't -- I hit -- you know, I hit some balls early in the week and then I might usually play nine holes or the shootout on Tuesday, which is the same way the schedule works out. I usually play the Pro Am on Wednesday. I'll probably play a full round with some other players.

Q. What did you take from the Masters experience and how far along are you in your preparation for the U.S. Open?

DAVID DUVAL: Well, I took a lot from Augusta. You know, I think if there was any self-doubt or any questions I had about my own ability to withstand that additional pressure, I certainly feel like I erased them at least in my mind. Although, I didn't win the golf tournament, I did everything I could and I felt like I executed the gameplan on Sunday that was just about perfectly executed and it just wasn't quite enough, you know. My preparation for the Open will really get underway when I go up there and go fishing in Montana the week before that. You know, I can -- I can sit here and tell you while you're out there, at least for me, while I was out there playing and had a chance, you know, and maybe it's because I view all the tournaments I play as important and I do know ultimately that winning majors is really how you leave a mark. But when you're in the process of trying to win a golf tournament and you're in the heat and you have a chance, I think the nerves and the pressure you're feeling are very similar. Now, and I can also tell you when it's done on Sunday and had come up short, that the letdown was greater. It was more of a kick in the stomach, you know, but while you're actually in the process of trying to do it, I didn't feel any -- and if I did, minimal additional pressure and things of that nature. You know, yeah, you realize it is The Masters, but to win, you still are going to have to -- you know, you have to do the same things, so -- and I think, I don't know, and further I guess my preparations for the Open won't be any different than it will be for this week. I will look to hopefully get there playing well because then, you know, I don't have to sit there and grind on it for a few days before the tournament starts, and then just go out and play really.

Q. Will you play next week?

DAVID DUVAL: No, I'm not playing again until the Open after this one.

WES SEELEY: When will you get to San Francisco?

DAVID DUVAL: I will go down on the Sunday before. I'll get in on the Sunday. I'll be up in Montana for Tuesday until Saturday probably.

Q. David, after your first win in Williamsburg, speaking to you after that, you didn't see that there was any explosion onto the scene because you had all the second place finishes. You didn't really see your explosion onto the scene. Has that changed now that you've won a few more?

DAVID DUVAL: I think so. Look at the room. Granted, everybody was anticipating Tiger being here, but nobody left, you know. (Laughter). Maybe you just don't want to lose your seat. I don't know. I think so, you know. I'm being asked to come in early on in the week, and, you know, I don't think -- you know, I don't know what it would take to equate it to the presence that Tiger presents or what Nicklaus may have done or Palmer, but I can only speculate, it would take winning a lot of, you know, some Majors and more golf tournaments, but it has certainly increased a lot since Williamsburg.

Q. Are you noticing that the galleries that are following you are growing?

DAVID DUVAL: Yeah, they have. Last week, you know, I teed off on Saturday and, you know, I was in the hunt for a while. I mean not really close, but I had a chance starting the weekend and I did all right on Saturday and I had those decent sized galleries, and it's nice. And then, you know, I don't -- you know, the autograph seekers are increased, so certainly my profile seems to have been raised.

Q. You mentioned the Open. What do you think differentiates that from the other three Majors?

DAVID DUVAL: Well, I don't know. I think, you know, they try to -- the way they set up a golf course in the process of putting a premium on ball-striking, they make it a very difficult putting contest, as well. I mean, you know, the -- I'm not familiar with Olympic, but the other Opens I've played in, you know, -- it's critical to drive it in the fairway and to knock it onto the green. But at the same time, if you've done that, you still don't necessarily have an easy par or a birdie put. It's funny, a player told me my first Open up at Medinah, he said: You'll do all right if you remember that sometimes a 6-foot birdie putt isn't a birdie putt, it's a par putt, because you know you're above the hole or wherever and you have to cozy it down there and make sure you get down in 2 as opposed -- because you can run it by so far. And I think -- I think that's the biggest difference from Augusta. I mean obviously, Augusta is important when you're putting, but you can hit it more places over there. And in the British, you know, it's hard to say because I haven't seen all the golf courses they've played. I haven't seen Birkdale this year and I don't know anything about Sahalee either, but like last year's PGA was very similar to an Open. I think it depends on the venue they choose, and the big factor that comes in in the British is that we don't usually have in the majors we play over here.

Q. What is the psychological impact of a growing gallery and more autograph seekers?

DAVID DUVAL: There isn't one really. It's all part of what you do and you learn to handle it as best you can.

Q. This time last year, you were having to talk about how you hadn't won yet on the tour. I think since then you've won a couple of times, you kind of had to stop answering that. How, if anything, are you a different player now? Is it a mental aspect that you're different or are you just the same guy?

DAVID DUVAL: I think it does give you more confidence mentally. I don't think my actual game has changed a whole lot. I think -- I think I've -- through it all, I've learned to rely on my head a lot more than my game, you know, and you realize that you have -- I think you just -- for me, I kind of don't count myself out of it, you know, when you're four or five, six back, because you never know what it can happen. And I think I realized that, you know, a play in -- when you're not playing your best, you can still win if you use your head very well and you give yourself opportunities to putt well, you know, knock it on the green as opposed to hitting it at flags and stuff when you're not hitting it well. And just, I don't know, you learn patience out there, I guess, and you just -- I don't know, I think I don't press it as much, don't try to force things, just kind of let them come to you.

Q. Has the learning process from, you know, trying to win to actually winning, can you then now apply that to winning majors, you know, are you trying to take the same process?

DAVID DUVAL: Well, I don't think you know, winning a golf tournament, that the same things have to happen, you know. Yeah, it's a Major and there is more pressure and there are more perks that go with winning those. But when you're actually out there doing it, nothing needs to be done differently, and I think like I said in answer to a question a few minutes ago, you know, I've learned if there's any question about handling, I felt like I've proved to myself that I could. And while I was actually in the process, I didn't feel like there was any -- I wasn't that much more nervous because it was a Major. I was nervous, don't get me wrong, but I have been at all of those, and that's kind of what you strive to be on Sunday.

Q. You talk obviously about what the club has to offer the players. Can you talk a little bit about the course and, you know, what it has to offer, obviously any challenges?

DAVID DUVAL: This one?

Q. Yes.

DAVID DUVAL: Well, I think it's -- you know, I think it's certainly one of the better golf courses we see each year. You know, it's always-- even when it's wet, it's always manicured perfectly. You know, and that's -- you know, I don't know. It's not like we play bad condition golf courses, but, you know it just seems to be that much better. I don't know, it's a pretty golf course. I don't know, have you walked around it much? It's just nice; it's nice being out there. It's -- you know, they have a big turnout of people and I just like it. I don't know how to better answer you.

Q. You talked about fishing and it seems like players always say like before or after Majors they like to go fishing. I was wondering, I mean, what is it? Is it as relaxing as getting a massage or something?

DAVID DUVAL: Probably. Probably. It lasts longer, too. I don't know. It's something I enjoy doing. I guess a lot of people -- the players do. You know, I think it's -- you know, it's good to kind of help you come down off of the adrenaline rush of a Major and it might -- you know, I haven't done it much beforehand, but it's something that, you know, I think a good thing it might do is keep you from grinding in the morning about it the week before and expending a lot of energy a week prior to the Open and trying to get open and just beating balls. And I think especially if you're playing well is more beneficial, so I don't know. And, you know, there's worse places to be than on a river in Montana, I mean, it's -- I'm looking forward to it.

Q. David, you talked just now about preparing for a tournament. Can you talk about what your approach is going into the first round. I mean, how are you thinking about your -- the tournament in just that one day?

DAVID DUVAL: Yeah, for me I think the first day, it's always nice to be up close, you know, when the round is over to not have, you know, not to be six, seven, eight shots behind. But for me, I try to go out and play kind of conservative. You know, I try to eliminate any big mistakes that can happen out there. I try to hit it in the fairways and knock it on the greens and then make a few putts. I feel like I putt the ball well and I'm a good iron player, so if I don't get too aggressive and if I hit it 10, 12, 15 feet six or seven times, then I'm going to make a couple of those through the course of the round. And, you know, just kind of let it happen slowly and I think you just try to build up to getting yourself into a position come Saturday and Sunday. I think when those days roll around that's when you might be a little more aggressive. But I think, you know, there's a fine line between trying to go out and really come out quick out of the gates on Thursday. And at the same time, you know you can shoot yourself out of it really easy, too. So I try to pick up a few here and there and be pleased with a round where you break par.

Q. Is there a perfect first day score for you?


Q. I mean, how often -- guys don't usually go wire to wire on this tour, though?

DAVID DUVAL: No, it didn't happen a whole lot. I think if you break 70, you know, usually more often than not, I'm playing a par 72 golf course or so. You know, if you can get it in under 70, I think that's a really good start, at least for me.

WES SEELEY: But it's not 61.


Q. What's your reaction to this rivalry-type talk they have among the 20-something talks like you and Phil and Justin and Tiger and Ernie? Is there such a thing as rivalry in golf because you're playing against yourself really?

DAVID DUVAL: Right. You know, the last rivalry I had was on Sunday in Houston that was against Jeff Maggert. That can change each week when you have a chance to win. I don't think -- I don't view it as a rivalry. I can't answer for the other players you mentioned, but I would bet that they don't either. Everybody knows his game is such -- you play 20 events unless you're Byron Nelson, you don't win 15 of them. If you win two or three events in a year, you've had a fine year, so I don't think there's a -- I don't view it as a rivalry.

Q. A lot of golf fans have asked, they say: Well, what's wrong with Tiger Woods this year? Well, nothing that I know of. He's made an awful lot of money. As a player, and you've observed Tiger, what's your reaction to the season he's having? Is it just people expect too much or?

DAVID DUVAL: Well, I think he's at a hard spot. An awful lot is expected of him. I don't know what his stats are. Wes might know a little better; he won at Atlanta. I think he's won second a few other times, third and fourth. He's played unbelievably well, really. I mean, you know, say he wins -- I don't know, I think it's kind of funny at this point where that -- that they have that reaction. You know, say he wins two or three more golf tournaments this year, okay, as opposed to where right now everybody is saying: What's wrong with him? He won four events, second three times, fourth three times. He had an unbelievable year. Right now, everybody thinks he's having a bad year. He's played beautiful. I don't think he's come close to missing a cut. I don't know. He never does.

Q. He may be a player who's in a state where if he doesn't win Major championships people think he's had a bad year, too.

DAVID DUVAL: Yeah, I guess. I mean, that's -- I guess that's a good spot to be in, though, really. You know, but at the same time, I think, you know, a lot of expectations and a lot of people's kind of hopes have been thrust upon him and sometimes I think we forget that he's still 22 years old. I think, you know, you give him a few years to learn and to handle it all. I mean, there's no telling what he's going to do. I think -- I don't know, you can give his year to somebody else, they've had a career year, and he's only played, I don't know, eight or ten times, so I don't know. A lot has been heaped upon him and I think he carries that burden very well and handles himself well considering everything that's expected of him. I think to continue to perform as well as he does is just a bonus. I mean, what do you think, you're out here all the time, he's played beautifully.

Q. Well, that was my answer. I said to these people: What do you mean what's wrong with Tiger? I think he's doing pretty good. They said he's not David Duval. The last couple years before you won so many people were saying wait until he does win, then he's going to bust loose and that's exactly what's happened. In your own mind, from some of the things I read, it sounds like maybe for a while you were trying too hard to be too perfect, thinking that's what you had to win. What's changed since before and after.

DAVID DUVAL: You know, I couldn't really tell you what's changed. I think that what you said might just be fair. I certainly know I was trying too hard, and I think it's a rare case that you see a player win a tournament playing near to as well as they can play. You know, John Huston did it this year; Tiger did it at Augusta last year; Steve Jones did it at Phoenix last year. And those are the instances where some records may be broken or that may be the field by eight or ten shots. But more often than not, most of the players out here play if they have a chance, obviously they're playing well, but it's just I think you realize it's a game of -- it really is a game of misses. You don't go through the course of a round and certainly not a tournament where you don't -- you know, you don't hit bad shots, and so you learn to manage those better. And I think for me, that's what has changed. You realize you don't have to play your best. You just need to minimize all your mistakes and manage kind of the game you have with you at times the best I can.

Q. Was that gradual or did something happen in any one tournament last year where you suddenly came to that realization?

DAVID DUVAL: You know, I don't know. I don't really know.

WES SEELEY: Anything else for David Duval?

Q. You're one of the few players who wears sunglasses out on the course. Does that have an impact on the size of the galleries, because the perception might be that wearing sunglasses is somewhat rebellious, but reality is you wear it because your eyes are sensitive?

DAVID DUVAL: Yeah, I don't know. Really, you know, a few years ago I might have been one of few. I think that number really has increased a lot. I don't know. I would certainly hope to think that it -- that doesn't have a negative impact, but it may. But at the same time, like you said, I wasn't given the best set of eyes to work with, and I find them to be beneficial and to help me play. You know, maybe it's the style of them, I don't know, but, you know, it's hard to -- I think if you're doing it, you want a glass that's effectively covering everything so you're seeing consistently through, you know, you're not seeing rims and edges. You're consistently seeing the same thing, and so that's why I like these and prefer these. But, I don't know, it seems to be something that's a lot more accepted today as opposed to three years ago and maybe another couple years it will be that much more.

Q. Do you wear contacts?

DAVID DUVAL: Yeah. I just recently -- I mean, last -- I think the end of last summer is the first time I've been able to get into soft contacts, too. It was really a battle then. I don't know if anybody has worn hard contacts, but they're not really that fun. You have any type of wind and you get some dust and you're really battling it then. That's the reason I started wearing sunglasses, but I recently got into soft contacts where toric lenses, because I have astigmatisms in both eyes.

Q. At The Masters, you were talking about hitting balls in a bunker in an over-play. I couldn't understand you wearing sunglasses. As I recall you gave him yours and said: Well, see how much difference it makes. So it does make a difference?

DAVID DUVAL: Yeah, especially there where the sand is so white. I mean, it's hard to see in those bunkers especially, and, you know, it knocks off the glare and that's -- that the sand is giving off. You know, I don't know, it kind of softens it a little bit and you can keep your eyes that much more open and you're not getting glare from clubs or the ball. It removes that, and, you know, just it doesn't -- I think it helps to keep your eyes from tiring.

Q. Another part of the story about the search that you've been on is the physical part with your conditioning workouts. How much of an effect do you think it's had compared to the mental stuff that you've been through and what do you do, how much do you do it?

DAVID DUVAL: I've been pretty slack lately. But, you know, I'm still trying to find that nice balance between determining what's the best approach as far as working out and lifting during tournament weeks or if I should maybe do most of my preparation away from the tournaments and then use the tournaments to, you know, view it as I'm doing -- getting ready for the tournaments, now it's time to play, so I'm still trying to find that out. And I think it was beneficial a lot, of, I think maybe the muscle breakdown. It slows it during the year and you're that much fresher at the end of -- like I felt I was fresher at the end of last year. You know, I remember there's something, and I think it was beneficial and it helped me to accomplish this more so and I can't say I fully did, but, you know, Jack was always, you know, I remember one thing in particular he said many years ago when they asked him, maybe it was about his tournament schedule, he said one of the big goals he had and I took this to heart when he was done playing at the end of the year, he wanted to be as fresh as he started the year his first tournament of the year. I think that's an approach if you can try to come close to accomplishing that then you've really paced yourself well through the year and given yourself enough rest and still competed enough. So I'm still trying to do that.

WES SEELEY: Okay folks? Thank you

End of FastScripts....

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