Thursday, December 03, 2009

Former World No 1 David Duval starts

Q School Final with a one-under 71

David Duval has always done things his own way. So it shouldn't be surprising he decided to show up for this week's final stage of the US PGA Tour National Qualifying Tournament at Bear Lakes Country Club, West Palm Beach, Florida.
Q-school leaderboard
Notes from Bear Lakes
Complete coverage
Duval briefly considered skipping the six-day ordeal because his runner-up finish at the U.S. Open and his 130th-place spot on the money list gets him into plenty of tournaments in 2010; plus he will get numerous sponsor exemptions. But Duval quickly changed his mind because he felt playing in the final stage was the correct thing to do.
Never mind that Duval is one of only 12 players to be ranked No. 1 in the world since the rankings were compiled in 1986. Now he becomes the first former No. 1 player to have to go to q-school to keep his full-exempt status on the US PGA Tour, and he says he's fine with that.
"I didn't feel like I should be in his position, but I am," Duval said. "In the end, I decided I'm not above going to q-school like anyone else."
That's a refreshing approach, and one not shared by others. John Daly never considered going to q-school after he lost his full-exempt status in 2006. And three notable players who finished between 126-150 on this year's money list -- Chris DiMarco, Stuart Appleby and Rocco Mediate -- chose to pass on Q-school (DiMarco and Appleby can both take exemptions for being in the top 50 on the career money list.)
Duval admits that even if he wins the final stage, it might get him into only four or five more tournaments next year. But that's not the point, he insists.
"I want to play and I'm working at it," Duval said. "I have no explanation as to how I almost won the U.S. Open and then had to come to Q-school. I'm in a bit of a funny spot -- I'm not exempt on TOUR the way I want to be, but I'm in the first three majors. It's a unique position. I just frankly felt like I've got an opportunity to go down and work and play and better my position and pursue what I still want to do. So I need to go do it."
Duval said he didn't second-guess his decision to come to Bear Lakes when he was standing on the seventh tee Wednesday at the wind-swept Links Course at 4 over, thanks to double-bogeys on the two par-5s. He didn't get upset because he felt he was playing well enough to overcome those dubs.
Sue enough, that's exactly what he did. He birdied the next hole, and then the ninth, to get back to 2 over at the turn.
Even with the wind blowing harder -- gusts were 30-to-40 mph -- Duval's game became sharper. He added three more birdies on the back nine, including the last two holes, against no bogeys to turn a 78 into a 71. That moved him into an 11th-place tie after the first round, four shots behind leader Troy Merritt.
"It wouldn't have been something I felt I could have done if I had not been hitting the ball like I wanted to," Duval said of his strong finish. "But I hit only one bad shot today (a drive on No. 2 that hooked into the water). I felt I was controlling the ball well in these conditions all day."
This is only the second trip to q-school for the 38-year-old Duval; he failed to make it to final stage in 1993. Duval admits he's not sure how to approach this week because of his lack of experience.
"I'm not sure how to approach it because it's not something I've done," Duval said. "I'm trying to conserve my energy. We were just laughing about it ... I felt like we were out there all day today. Well, five more of this."
If Duval can continue to show the kind of resiliency he exhibited Wednesday, the next five days may be not be such a grind. But the fact Duval even showed up this week shows his head is in the right place.
"In this game, we have to earn what we get," Duval said. "You have to earn your status, you have to earn your place. (Because of) my play the last few years, I've lost that.
"If I wanted to play, I needed to come here."
Good for him.


Merritt bogeyed his first hole Wednesday, but that was about the only mistake he made during his first round.
Merritt, who won the Mexico Open this year on the Nationwide Tour, played a seven-hole stretch in 6 under to take the first-round lead with a 5-under 67. Merritt had four birdies in a five-hole stretch to finish his front nine, then added an eagle at the par-5 second hole.
Merritt leads TOUR veteran Jay Williamson (68) by a shot. Three players -- Ty Harris, Billy Horschel and Andrew Buckle -- are tied for third at 69.
Williamson was the lone player among the top five to play the Lakes Course, which played more than a half-stroke harder (75.1) than the Links Course (74.3).
But Williamson has plenty of local knowledge -- he made it through the 1995 q-school here at Bear Lakes and his caddie, Eric Larson, is a long-time member at Bear Lakes. Larson caddied for Anthony Kim the last two years before they parted ways last month.

Par 72
67 T Merritt.
68 J Williamson.
69 T Harris, B Horschel, A Buckle.
70 C Tringale, A Meyer, B De Jonge, J Broadway, G Delaet.
71 M Jones, N Lancaster, D Duval, S Bertsch, A McLardy, T Brown, M Connell, J Maggert, C Riley, J Park, J Trudeau.
72 M Flores, C Wilson, B Pappas, B Stuard, D Schultz, S Kim, R Oppenheim, R Damron, H Haas, M Dawson, T Aldridge.
Selected scores:
73 J Parnevik (jt 35th).
76 S Micheel (jt 105th).

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