David ( Duval) Is Now Goliath
The book on David Duval was the same as the one on Nick Price and, before him, Fred Couples: Duval would never be the No. 1-ranked player for long because he didn't want to be. Too much pressure. Too much scrutiny. That's why everyone was startled last week when Duval showed up at Kapalua to defend his title at the Mercedes Championships looking lean and mean and taking dead aim at Tiger Woods.
Everything about Duval seemed different, from his sleek physique and stylish Italian doming to his improved short game and professed eagerness to regain the top spot in the ranking. Duval still weighs 190 pounds, but he dramatically changed his appearance by lifting weights, running and adhering to a high-protein diet. Since starting the program in October, he has reduced his body fat to 7%. (Five years ago, when Duval weighed 225 pounds, his body fat was nearly 30%.) His workouts included four-mile runs through the woods at his vacation home in Sun Valley, Idaho, and 90-minute weightlifting sessions in a gym near his house in Jacksonville Beach, Fla. Duval's father, Bob, who increased his own strength in preparation for the upcoming Senior tour season by training with his son, says, "I get tired just spotting for him."
For a golfer Duval lifts an inordinate amount of weight. His bench-press workout consists of six pyramid sets of eight to 10 repetitions, using 215 pounds for the three middle sets. Duval believes he is "as fit and athletic as anybody playing [golf] right now."
To get used to his altered body and to lose some bad habits, Duval hit more balls during the off-season than he normally does. As last season wore on, Duval moved too close to the ball at address, which caused him to lower his hands and bend over too much. "He couldn't swing the club back naturally," says Bob. "He had to try to manipulate it into the right position."
Duval also worked on his biggest weakness: short, lofted wedge shots. Due to a shut club face on his backswing, Duval has had difficulty slipping his club under the ball on lob shots and shots from bunkers. (He ranked 164th in sand saves last year.) "We worked on getting the toe of the club pointing up halfway back, and that's going to expand his repertoire," Bob says.
Most important, Duval isn't afraid to say that his focus in 2000 is on winning his first major, and at Kapalua he got a kick out of the reaction he received when he said, "I thoroughly enjoyed being Number 1."
Of course, getting much more out of Duval remains a difficult task. "You know David," says his father. "He isn't going to say a lot, but he's going to do a lot."
Just look. He already has.
The Tour Gets Tough
Why Scores Are Soaring