A lot has been reported already about David Duval’s chances at the Open Championship next week. Considering his T2 finish at the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black 3 weeks ago, many folks (including me) are thinking he can contend, and perhaps even win, at Turnberry. But I haven’t heard much about his chances THIS week at the John Deere Classic. We’ve heard he’s in the field, but I haven’t heard anyone really giving him a shot at winning the darn thing.
I’ve already written about how I think David is VERY close to winning again on the PGA Tour (read the blog post here). My thinking is that he has a real shot at winning one of the (with all due respect to the individual events themselves) “lesser”, non-marquis events on the tour — a prime example being this week’s stop at the John Deere. I really didn’t expect him to contend at a major so soon, and although his steady play at the U.S. Open was not a surprise to me, his challenging for the win on the back nine and his high finish was.
I think David has been playing well for a while now, and the confidence he showed at the U.S. Open against the best in the world — especially down the stretch — is very telling of how close he is to regaining his winning form. I think his chances this week are greater than at Turnberry, in that several of the top American players in the world rankings won’t be at the John Deere because they are taking the week off in preparation for The Open Championship. The top Europeans are either at the Scottish Open or are also taking the week off.
This may be going out on a limb after all he’s been through in the past 5 years, but I think David has a mental edge over a majority of the field this week. He gained a large amount of confidence at the U.S. Open, showing himself that his results can match his recent steady play. He’s been at the top of the game before, albeit 10 years ago – it’s not exactly like riding a bicycle, but I think he can tap into where he was as world #1 back then and how he dominated the fields of events he played in back then. I don’t think elite athletes ever really forget what they did and how they did it — David can use those positive memories and do it again. His attitude and motivation are completely different now, and I think this all adds up to a winning combination.
So I say this is the week — I’m going on record here as saying I think David Duval is going to win at The John Deere this week. If I end up being wrong (and it won’t be the first or last time), I’m saying top 10 finish at least, and I’ll say the same for Turnberry next week.