David Duval won’t play at the Humana Challenge
In 2013, David Duval not playing in a PGA Tour event should hardly qualify as news, but last night, he dropped some info on Twitter that surprised many in golf circles.
Now, the reason this is important is because the Humana Challenge, formerly known as the Bob Hope Classic, is where Duval fired his legendary 59 in the final round of the 1999 event. Duval is one of only five players in the history of the PGA Tour to post such a number, and it obviously means a great deal to him, considering that it’s part of his Twitter handle. It should mean a lot to him. It’s one of those things that he’ll always be remembered for, right up there with winning the Open Championship and being ranked as the number one player in the world.
Unfortunately for Duval, he’ll also be remembered for his spectacular fall from the top of the game. That Open Championship win in 2001 was his last victory on the PGA Tour, and he’s actually only had nine top-10’s since that win at Royal Lytham. Duval has had a myriad of issues that have kept him away from the course over the years, whether it was injury, lack of desire, and when his wife became ill, but he has always made time for the Humana, playing in the tournament every year since that win, with the exception of 2004. Of course, it’s because of his struggles over the years that he doesn’t have a guaranteed spot in the event, or many others for that matter. For the most part, he’s relying on exemptions to play in an attempt to get his game back on track.
Admittedly, it’s a little strange that they didn’t grant him an exemption. Most past champions of any event are usually given an exemption without any hesitation, but there’s no rule that says they are guaranteed a spot. Of course, each tournament is different. In 1999, the year Duval won, the Humana/Hope changed their exemption rules. Prior to Duval’s win, tournament champions got a lifetime exemption to the event. That changed to a 10-year exemption in 1999, and Duval has been given a special exemption to play in the last three years.
Last year, former Masters champ Mike Weir was denied an exemption into the Northern Trust despite winning the event twice in 2003 and 2004, and let’s not forget the Ernie Els exemption nonsense from the Masters last year when he was passed over for Ryo Ishikawa. Els hasn’t won a green jacket, but many were shocked when Augusta National decided to pass him over for the young Japanese phenom. My point is that if you want to play on the PGA Tour, there’s really only one way to guarantee that: play well. The fact is, last year Duval played in 17 events worldwide and his finishes looked like this:
T60, 66, T66, 13 cuts, 1 WD.
More to the point, since winning in 1999, he’s got one top-10 at the Humana/Hope, and that was in 2000. We’ll never hear the reasons behind who was granted an exemption to the event, but the tournament organizers clearly think that a spot in the event is better used for another player. For what it’s worth, Duval doesn’t seem to be complaining about it. He’s understandably a little frustrated, but he gets that it’s on him.
I like Duval, as do most people who follow the game closely. Once he’s decided to quit playing, he’d be a great fit on any golf broadcast, if he so chooses. He’s an intelligent, witty guy, who would certainly be a breath of fresh air when compared to some of the guys currently on NBC, ESPN, CBS and Golf Channel, but until he does decide to quit, he’s probably going to run into more of these scenarios. There are lots of people who are pulling for him, and he’s apparently close to signing a new deal with Nike, reuniting him with the company that helped turn him into a star over a decade ago. Maybe this setback will help spur him on, but at the very least, it’s an interesting storyline to follow early in the 2013 golf season.
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