David Duval is looking for a win more than 20 years in the making.
And a shot at that feat will begin Thursday at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship where Duval’s second lease on his professional golf career kicks off with his first PGA Tour Champions’ start.
His first professional run had one of the steepest rises and declines in golf history. After starting his Tour career with 86 winless starts, he won 11 times from 1997-2000 and snatched the world No. 1 throne from Tiger Woods. He then broke through for his first major victory at the 2001 Open, but that would be the last of his 13 Tour titles.
What followed was a slew of neck and knee injuries, which contributed to his downfall. After only two top-10s in 2002, he wouldn’t record another one until a runner-up finish in the ’09 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black. However, that didn’t prompt a comeback story. He’d register a mere three top-10s (including another runner up in 2010 at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am) throughout the next two years on Tour and those would be his last.
But with the Jacksonville native’s full-time PGA Tour career having been in the rearview mirror since 2015, the 50-year-old is excited to embark on a new journey.
Full-field tee times from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai
“Tremendous excitement, tremendous satisfaction, tremendous pleasure. Really looking forward to what the PGA Tour Champions presents, the opportunity it gives us as players,” Duval said Wednesday in Hawaii ahead of his first senior start. “There’s some nervousness and some excitement and [anxiety] because I haven’t competed consistently for a very long time, but the opportunity to do that is just putting a smile on my face.”
2011 was the last year Duval made over 20 starts on Tour as injuries continued to take their toll on him. The last cut he made was the ’15 Open Championship, but he has only made 20 starts since then while he’s been working as a Golf Channel and ESPN analyst.
But his broadcasting duties may be put on ice. He hasn’t decided when or if he’ll return to the broadcast booth and notes that “right now it’s about hitting the little white ball into the fairway and knocking it onto the green,” as he plans to play 20-plus weeks on the senior circuit this year.
“I haven’t entirely looked at the schedule and gone through it all, but I’m thinking roughly in the neighborhood of 20 (events),” he said. “A full schedule, I guess, is the way to put it. Figuring out with family, with the kids, all those things, where to build breaks, where they can come, things like that.”
Last season, former major champions such as Jim Furyk, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson and Mike Weir re-discovered their form as rookies on the PGA Tour Champions. Now Duval, too, “expects to succeed” in his second chance at a competitive golf career. But he also has another objective for this year.
“Have a lot of fun,” he said.
And if he can claim his first professional victory in more than 20 years, he will have achieved both of his goals.