There was a time when David Duval's name was mentioned in the same breath as Tiger Woods' when it came to dominance on the golf course. From 1997 to 2001, it looked like they might be headed for years of head-to-head competition at the highest level.
Between 1997 and 2001 Duval recorded 13 victories on the PGA tour, including the 1999 Players Championship. For time during April, 1999, Duval was ranked as the number one player in the world according to the Official World Golf Rankings. He seemingly reached the pinnacle of his profession with a 3-stroke victory at the 2001 British Open Championship.
Inexplicably, Duval's game then deserted him. That British Open win - his first Major Championship - was also the last time he has won an event on the PGA tour. In the eleven years since then, Duval has struggled to even remain on the tour, taking an eight month break from the game after finishing 211th on the money list in 2003 and failing to earn his PGA Tour card on a number of occasions over the last few years. He's had a few memorable moments - a 2nd place finish at the 2009 U.S. Open championship and second at the 2010 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. among them - but in 2011, his highest finish was a ninth-place tie at the Northern Trust Open.
Still, golf has been good to Duval, as his $18 million career earnings with attest. After failing to qualify for this weekend's U.S. Open, Duval accepted an invitation from ESPN to makes his debut as a television analyst on the network's coverage of the 112th U.S. Open this week at Olympic Club in San Francisco. He's looking forward to getting his feet wet in broadcasting, and talking about the sport he has devoted his life to, for better or for worse.
“TV is definitely something that’s interesting and intrigues me,” says Duval. “I enjoy the game so much and I enjoy what’s going on in the game right now so much. The opportunity to do this presented itself and it worked out, so I thought this could be pretty fun.”
Even though he accepted this opportunity from ESPN and is excited about getting his first chance at broadcasting, Duval wants to make it clear that he doesn't see himself giving up his clubs for a microphone and make a full-time transition to the broadcasting world anytime soon.
“I don’t want it to be seen as a transition because I don’t believe my playing career is over,” he said. “I know I’ve had a rough year but I’ve also been dealing with other small injuries that I haven’t talked about. But it (TV) is definitely something I’d like to do in the future.”
At this point, Duval might find analyzing golf on television a more lucrative option than actually playing golf. His year-to-date earnings on the tour are just over $26,000. At the age of 40, time is running out on possibility of recapturing the form of his early career.
Duval will work with ESPN’s Trey Wingo, host of the feature group coverage, with co-analyst Bill Kratzert and on-course reporter Mark Donaldson. The feature group coverage will air on ESPN3, ESPN’s multi-screen live sports network. The programming is available online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app and through ESPN on Xbox LIVE.
The coverage also is part of the U.S. Open mix on DirecTV (channels 701-705).
If you get a chance to catch Duval on ESPN's coverage this weekend, remember the sometimes-rough road that brought him to where he is now. Remember also, that at one time, he was the best in the world - a world that included a young Tiger Woods.