Duval tries to change Masters attitude

By United Press International   |   April 9, 2002 at 12:18 PM   |   0 comments

AUGUSTA, Ga., April 9 (UPI) -- It did not take many visits to the Augusta National Golf Club for David Duval to understand how he would feel during Masters week.

"I felt estatic and sick at the same time," Duval said Tuesday.

Now, after a series of close calls at the year's first major championship, he is trying to change his emotions as another Masters approaches.

"I'm trying to ween myself off the excitement," he said shortly before embarking on a practice round with Arnold Palmer. "I'm trying to face this as just another tournament."

Duval, 30, captured his first major title last summer at the British Open, but has seen what had been a No. 2 ranking in the world slip to No. 6 this season. He has had only one top-20 outing in eight events on the PGA Tour in 2002.

"That's been a bit misleading," he said. "Actually, my golf is very good even though my results haven't shown that.

"It's time to start playing again, not getting in my own way. The game is out there (on the course), not at your feet.

"I'm expecting some really good things this week. My performances here the past few years gives me a lot of confidence. I know what to expect."

Duval has finished no worse than sixth in the past four Masters. He tied for second, one shot behind winner Mark O'Meara, in 1998, and was second last year, two shots behind Tiger Woods. He tied for third two years ago, behind Vijay Singh and Ernie Els.

"I feel I should have won in '98 and again in 2000," Duval said. "Last year, I could have won, but, as in those others, my lack was a couple of missed shots."

Duval says one of the reasons his confidence level is high is because, "each time I do a better job of controlling my emotions."

Duval insists that his play at the British Open at Lytham, which he won by three strokes, actually was not as good as his play at last year's Masters or during the first three rounds of last year's PGA Championship.

"Sometimes, you can play well only to have someone else play even better."

Duval said his second place finish at the 1998 Masters, "was a big disappointment," but that his other three close finishes "were not as bad, emotionally.'

Augusta, said Duval, is a good place to get his game going again because his familiarity of the Augusta National, where he has been visiting since he was a teenager.

"That gives me a bit of an edge," he said. "It's a bit of coming home again."

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