If your only exposure to golf is watching professionals compete on TV, you could very well be of the opinion that the game of golf is really not all that difficult. The way the players consistently control the ball and hit it amazing distances can become commonplace during a weekend broadcast. However, any average golfer is well aware of the true aberration of incredible performances from these truly gifted players and our grim reality. We all know how hard the game can be and how difficult it is to hit even a single shot like a tour pro.
The huge crevasse of talent and capability that exists between professional and weekend warrior is usually too much to even understand. However, it’s those rare moments when the gifted paid performer fails to execute that actually give the rest of us hope. That is why the story of the rise and fall, and seemingly rise again of David Duval is so intriguing and uplifting.
Unlike 99% percent of all amateur players, David Duval was seemingly born great. The first segment of his professional career contained multiple Tour victories including the 2001 British Open, while he became the top ranked player in the world. The second segment of his career consisted of a career demise the likes of which only a handful of Tour players have ever experienced.
Even more amazing was his incredible second-place finish at the US Open last week in New York. What could be the successful start of his third career segment after years of struggle is one of those rare moments that give hope to the rest of us who don’t get paid to play.
As Johnny Miller mentioned during the broadcast, Duval’s struggles off the tee over the past seven years actually forced him to become an excellent putter. The statistics certainly support that theory as Duval currently ranks tied for 151st in the overall driving rankings on Tour through the US Open last weekend. Conversely, he is currently tied for 16th in the putts per round category at 28.26.
Overcoming setbacks in this game for both professionals and amateurs is a given. In fact, I’ve often that thought that “Adversity” might actually be a better descriptor for the game than “Golf”. However, witnessing the triumph over adversity by a player such as David Duval is a terrific lesson for those of us who’ve never shot par. Yes, this can be a tough, difficult game. But we’re never truly defeated until we’re out of balls.