David Duval Eats Humble Pie: Misses at Final Stage of PGA Tour Q-School

Robert HartmanCorrespondent IDecember 7, 2011

David Duval
David DuvalHarry How/Getty Images

Gone is the Nike swoosh that used to adorn David Duval's bag, hat, apparel and checkbook.

He finished 152nd on the PGA Tour money list in 2011.  Last week at PGA Tour Q-School, his under the radar rounds of 72, 72, 73, 73, 68 and 72 left him unceremoniously at 2-under, tied for 63rd.  Twelve years ago he was first.  Not at Q-school, on the PGA Tour.

Duval showed up at the final stage of Q-School with the rest of the wannabes and a handful of aging pros trying to hang on like Jeff Maggert, Rich Beem and Robert Gamez.  

He was never in contention for a top 25 spot and now he is headed for the Island of Misfit Toys, which equates to begging for sponsor exemptions, or playing the same tour he played when he left Georgia Tech in 1993.

Duval is the personification of a one-man golfing roller coaster.  Both on the course and off the course, life's adventures have made him a bona fide white collar, over $18 million in earnings, rags to riches to rags (albeit in a a different tax bracket) guy.

He understands that nobody exactly feels sorry for him and he's handled success and failure the same way.  He doesn't expect to be given anything, he knows who is still in his corner and he knows that the ability he displayed catapulting him to No. 1 in the world is still inside.

He battled left shoulder pain starting in 1996, then burned his hand on a teakettle in 1999.  He has had wrist injuries, caddie issues, like an average touring professional.

He worked himself into such good shape that he might have been able to win a lat contest with Tiger Woods, and he has ebbed into a more comfortable existence, eating apple pie and humble pie.

Duval was once the young gun earning his stripes on what was then the Nike Tour.  He was driving his green Pathfinder around the country trying to make $5,000 a week.  The $5,000 meant he could pay his entry fee for the next tournament, keep teeing-it-up and rooming with Clark Burroughs, who was then the Crash Davis of the Nike Tour.

Back then, nobody handed David Duval anything.  He earned his scholarship to play for Puggy Blackmon at Georgia Tech.  And then in 1994 he started learning how to play professionally.  

In some ways he was a golf vagabond—a well dressed 20-something golfer searching for the American Dream.  Duval lived the dream. The Georgia Tech All-American eventually graduated to the PGA Tour, and started winning events.

He won four of the first eight tournaments in 1998, and by 1999 he was the No. 1 player in the world.

Can he get it back?

Defining "it" for David Duval may be a daunting task.  He finished the 2011 PGA Tour season scrambling for pars and finishes that could best be described as respectable.  

The tour statistics ranked him 152nd in earnings, but that does not tell the whole story.  He played well in Las Vegas finishing tied for 23rd, but he missed far too many cuts to make a run at retaining his card. 

In 2009, he missed a par putt that would have been good enough for a shot at the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black.  Lucas Glover, another young gun rising through the ranks, finished Duval off just like he did back in 1998.

Duval has vowed to return his game to the form of when he was No. 1 in the world.  But there are obstacles to overcome, like the players at the PGA Tour Q-School event.  They were making birdies the way he used to make birdies—in bunches.

Duval doesn't want people to read his old newspaper clippings and learn about his history, he just wants history to repeat itself.