Florida’s Duval Goes His Own Way to Get to Junior Golf Title
Golf is one of the most frustrating games in the world. Most people have many more bad days at it than good.
Then there are days such as Saturday for David Duval, who hit a shot so bad that it was good.
After his tee shot on the 15th hole of the Willow Glen Course at Singing Hills landed on the green of the fourth, Duval looked as if he would sacrifice his 1-up lead over Austin Maki of Costa Mesa in the final of the U.S. Junior Amateur Championships.
Instead, Duval ended up winning the hole to go two up, then held off a typical late charge by Maki to win the final match, 1-up.
“He missed that drive so bad he should have been (out of bounds),” said Maki, who had become the first player to qualify last in medal play and then reach the final. “Instead he had a good shot (to the green).”
Duval, of Ponte Vedra, Fla., had birdied the par-four 14th hole to take his first lead in the final. But his drive from the elevated tee of the par-four 15th looked as if it was headed for disaster.
Instead it went over a lake and landed 20 feet from the pin on No. 4.
“I hit it hard enough and off line enough to get a break like that,” he said.
Duval got a free drop that gave him a better angle to the 15th green.
After Maki’s second shot sailed over the green, Duval hit his shot over a 40-foot tree and dropped it eight feet from the pin.
When Maki missed a three-foot putt for bogey, Duval had won the hole to take a 2-up lead.
Maki had made a habit of rallying in this tournament, and he did it again, making a five-footer on No. 17 to cut Duval’s lead to a single hole. But his comeback try came up inches short when a 60-foot birdie putt on 18 stopped just in front of the cup.
Maki finished a miraculous week in which he finished tied for 57th with nine other golfers during qualifying. He then was one of eight golfers to win a playoff to round out the field of 64 for match play.
He needed to win the 16th and 17th holes to get to even in the quarterfinals Friday, then won the match on the 19th hole. In Saturday morning’s semifinal against Alan Bratton of College Station, Tex., Maki went 22 holes before winning.
Duval did not need to play past the 16th until the final. But he too had to come back from a poor showing in qualifying round, where he shot 151, six behind the medalists.
He beat two of the four co-medalists on the way to the title. Duval defeated first-round qualifying leader and medalist Chris Edgmon of Edmund, Okla., 3 and 2 in the second round. And he eliminated 15-year-old Chris Riley of San Diego in the semifinals after an inspiring run of four consecutive birdies starting at No. 7 to overcome a two-hole deficit.
Duval benefitted from some advice from his father, Bob, a pro at The Plantation Country Club in Ponte Vedra. Duval was seven over through 36 holes of qualifying but finished match play seven under for 97 holes.
“My father got out here (after qualifying), and he knows a few bad habits I get into,” Duval said. “And all of a sudden I’m getting some birdies.”