The Gospel according to David Duval
By Conor Nagle under The Open Championship

David Duval: press conference confessional.

As the last player to win an Open Championship held at Royal Lytham, former world No1 David Duval has assumed the role of unofficial defending champion in Lancashire this week.

Now 40 (can you believe it?), he took to the press room this afternoon for a belated debrief and delivered nothing less than a virtuoso performance from the rostrum. Measured, philosophical and candid: it was less a Q&A than participatory lecture or work of performance art. Like the The Vagina Monologues, but with golf clubs (don’t even question that analogy: it’s airtight).

Owing to the density of the resulting transcript, I’ve opted to provide a selection of extended highlights rather than manhandle the quotage.

What follows is unadulterated Duval.

  • The Open

“This is a special week, regardless. I think that people and players spout about the best tournaments and best weeks of the year, but I think the majority of the time that you hear it, this is the best week of the year. That’s when they’re finally telling you the truth. They say that in a lot of places, but the majority of players feel like this is the biggest and best golf tournament of the year.”

  • The lows and highs of life since Lytham

“Over the last 11 years golf‑wise, I’ve had a few good events.  It’s well‑documented… I’ve had plenty of injuries and problems, haven’t played well. I have an arm brace right now, I’ve got bone bruises in my knee right now, so I’m still hurting. I don’t feel the greatest. I’m playing quite well.

“But enough about the golf.

“My life in general has blown up exponentially in a wonderful way – with meeting my wife, having an instant family with stepchildren, having a couple kids of my own biologically. I’ve got my oldest boy here. It’s kind of funny, I think I’m incredibly blessed in life, and I think I’m incredibly blessed to be in a marriage and a family that ‑ I was talking to Miguel, and said, ‘Hey have you met my oldest boy?’ yesterday. And he met Dino, and said, ‘How old are you?’ I said, ‘I’m 40.’  He said, ‘How old is he?’ And I said, ‘He’s 22.’ I said, ‘I guess he’s my stepson, but I’ve been with him since he’s this big.’

“I don’t see them any different, they’re like my kids.

“So I’m an incredibly, incredibly wealthy man.  I’ve got a wife that loves me.  I love her.  I think she hung the moon.  Maybe it’s not cool to say, but I think she hung the moon.  The kids are wonderful… And we’ve just had a lot of fun over the last nine years of being together.  I’ve been lucky”

  • Injury

“[Responding to insinuation he’s lost his appetite for the game] What were you doing yesterday from 3:30 to 5:30 when it was pouring?

“Working on an article, maybe? I was working, too. I was on the range hitting balls, soaked. It’s not – no, when I say ‘Enough about the golf,’ it’s more, I mean, let’s talk about the things that have really happened that are wonderful and important.

“No, I’ve worked my tail off.  Unfortunately for me I’ve had multiple nagging little injuries.  I’ve had tendonitis in both shoulders; I’ve got it in my elbows; I have bone bruises in my knees right now; I have a back problem that’s well documented; had tendonitis in my wrist; I’ve had vertigo. Is that it? You all know, we’ve talked.

“So, I mean, there’s a laundry list of problems.  And that stuff, you know what, frankly, it wrecks golf.  It wrecks your golf game… The great thing about wonderful athletes, wonderful golfers and football players, whatever it may be, but also the big detriment, is that we’re sometimes not smart enough to stop.  Our egos think that we can just play and get through it.  And I continued to play and work through it, and all it did was get worse and worse and wreck my golf game and wreck my confidence, and there you are…

“In hindsight the big mistake I made in my career was not stopping sometime in early 2002 and probably not playing again until ’04.  I should have taken at least a year, maybe more off, just made sure everything kind of got healed, protected my confidence, protected my golf game and moved on and just given away that year and a half, not eight years like I did.”

  • Tiger

“What’s the importance of [asking about my relationship with Tiger]?  I’m just curious.  I haven’t been asked that question before.

“We were decent friends 10 years ago, 12 years ago.  We talked a fair amount.  Now, no; I don’t ‑ are we friends? I guess so. We don’t talk. I’m not one to even imagine the microscope under which he has to live… You’re talking about a world star that most people in sports around the world know.  And that’s a tough life to have to live.

“We all have problems.  We all make choices, but when all your choices are, you know, scritinised and written about, it’s not a ‑ I don’t know if it’s a comfortable existence, really. It’s not one I want. He obviously has found some peace in his life, is happy, I think, with how he’s playing golf again. So I wouldn’t hesitate to have a beer with him, but it would probably have to be hidden in some house somewhere; it’s not like he can go to the public and do it.

“And that sucks that he can’t do that.”

Conor Nagle