David Duval played a lot of golf at the Timuquana Country Club — so much that he couldn’t begin to hazard a guess.
“Every day,” he said on Thursday after playing in the pro-am of the Constellation Furyk & Friends PGA Tour Champions event that Duval is playing for the first time this week. “Some days it was 36 [holes]some days it was 45, some days it was nine, some days it was 54. I don’t know how you’d keep track of that.”
Duval was the son of Timuquana head pro Bob Duval and learned to play the game under his father’s tutelage until he was 15, when Bob Duval accepted the same job at the Plantation at Ponte Vedra.
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The tree-lined fairways and plush, push-up greens became Duval’s proving ground to a career in which he had success at every level.
He won the US Junior Boys, became the second four-time NCAA Division I All-American after Phil Mickelson at Georgia Tech, and then won 13 PGA Tour titles, highlighted by the 2001 British Open, the 1999 Players Championship and the 1999 Bob Hope Desert Classic when he became the first player in PGA Tour history to shoot 59 in the final round to win.
Duval is in his rookie season on the PGA Tour Champions and is giving it a serious go: he’s started 19 of 22 events and is 81st on the money list.
“I just think the competitiveness and trying to remember how to play,” Duval said, referring to the fact that he hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since his British Open title at Royal Lytham and St. Annes. “I’ve tried to be patient. Everything’s gotten progressively better but the scores haven’t reflected, for the most part, how I’ve been playing.”
But standing on the back porch of the stately Timuquana clubhouse, with its stunning view of the St. Johns River and downtown Jacksonville, Duval couldn’t help but be swept by nostalgia.
“I’m proud to call this place my home and very proud to see what they’ve done to the golf course, how they’ve cleaned it up, thinned it out,” he said, referring to several renovations since he turned professional . “It’s just spectacular.”
Golf wasn’t the only memory Duval had. There were the hot dogs and cheeseburgers at the pool after a long day on the course and impromptu swims with his friends where they would jump in the river and churn to the Florida Yacht Club, a few hundred yards to the north.
“All the stupid stuff you do,” Duval said. “But you can forget how beautiful it can be here.”
Duval also said he remains grateful for the gesture the Timuquana membership made when his father left for Ponte Vedra when he was 15 years old.
“They told me, ‘David, you can come out, practice, play, do all those things,'” he said. “For a membership to do that for the son of a club pro who has just taken another job was really cool and something I’ve never forgotten.”
The club hasn’t either. In a display case down one of the hallways is a replica of the Claret Jug Duval won at the British Open.
He admitted some butterflies may be kicking in this week.
“It’s exciting…it certainly is nerve-wracking,” he said.
Contact Garry Smits at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GSmitter