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SPORTS WEEKEND | GOLF / THOMAS BONK

Duval-Woods Rivalry Still Needs a Major Upgrade

April 16, 1999|THOMAS BONK

All right, now, what about that great pre-Masters story line?

David Duval versus Tiger Woods?

You know, the rivalry?

Just one question: What rivalry?

Once again at a major, they did not go head to head, they did not go down to the wire against each other and neither won. Duval tied for sixth and Woods tied for 18th.

It's getting to be a habit. And people are noticing. People like Jack Nicklaus.

When he was asked about the Woods-Duval rivalry, Nicklaus said it's a little premature to get worked up about it.

"Let me do a takeoff. . . . I think the reason Arnold [Palmer] and I became a rivalry was because Arnold was winning most of the major championships at that time. And I came along in 1962 [at the U.S. Open] and won my first major by beating Arnold in a playoff.

"Then I came back in 1963 and won the Masters. So all of a sudden, it was two fellows winning major championships against each other."

"Now, I can't really see that there's a rivalry yet [between Woods and Duval] in that one fellow's won one major championship and the other fellow hasn't won any."

Nicklaus said there's no question that Duval and Woods are the two best players in the world, but said it's a good idea to stow the rivalry verbiage "until one wins the Masters and the other wins the U.S. Open . . . then you've got a rivalry."

It should be noted that between 1958 and 1966, either Nicklaus or Palmer won every Masters except two--Art Wall winning in 1959 and Gary Player in 1961.

MASTERS WRAPUP

They're going to close Augusta National soon for the summer until next fall, which is going to give everyone enough time to assess, analyze and argue about what happened at the Masters.

Let's get a head start:

* Best shot--The chip-in by Davis Love III at No. 16 on Sunday, where he sent the ball up the hill and then watched it roll back right into the hole.

* Worst shot--Greg Norman's wedge to the green at the par-five 15th, which wound up in a bunker--and as a bogey.

* Best birdie--Seven of them, actually, the seven in a row that Steve Pate racked up on Saturday.

* Best bogey--Norman again, the 20-foot putt he made at No. 12 on Saturday after he had lost his ball in the ground cover.

* Best round--Had to be Jose Maria Olazabal's one-under 71 on the last day, when after a stretch of three straight bogeys from No. 3-No. 5, he finished with four birdies and nine pars under wilting pressure.

* Worst closer--Ernie Els, who finished with an 80 after opening with rounds of 71-72-69.

* Fastest player--No question, John Daly, who barely stopped walking long enough to putt on his way to an 81 Sunday. Only one player finished lower than Daly of those who made the cut.

* Top newcomer--Carlos Franco of Paraguay, who became a pro despite having learned to play in bare feet in a country with only three golf courses. Franco tied for sixth.

* Best media official--The Augusta National member who referred to Norman as "Norm."

* Worst weekend--Scott McCarron, who began with rounds of 69-68, finished with 76-76.

* Best weekend--Olazabal. Nothing like a green jacket stuffed with a Masters-record $720,000.

DUVAL UPDATE

While Woods is playing this week at the MCI Classic at Hilton Head, S.C., Duval is taking a two-week vacation. He's scheduled to come back at the Shell Houston Open, April 29-May 2. And why is Duval playing Houston? Because he's the defending champion.

Duval may enter at New Orleans the following week and is planning to play consecutive tournaments the two weeks after that, at the GTE Byron Nelson Classic at Dallas and the MasterCard Colonial at Fort Worth.

Last year, Duval skipped the Nelson, saying he was tired. Actually, he could say the same thing this year . . . tired of cashing all those big checks.

MORE DUVAL

And for what it's worth, Duval's streak of 11 victories in his last 35 tournaments is the best since Johnny Miller won 11 times in 24 tournaments in 1974-75.

TODAY'S LIST

Question: What do Scott Hoch, Trevor Immelman, Olin Browne, Woods and Vijay Singh have in common?

Answer: They were the five worst putters at the Masters. Woods had 126 putts, the most of anyone except for Singh, who had 127.

P.S. Woods led the entire Masters field in hitting greens in regulation, which means his problem during the week at Augusta was putting.

P.P.S: Matt Kuchar was the No. 1 putter, needing only 106, but he tied for 50th. Winner Olazabal tied for sixth in putting.

LAST WORD, AUGUSTA

The most difficult hole at Augusta National was the par-three fourth (4.172 stroke average) and the second-toughest was another par three . . . yes, the 12th (3.306).

The revamped No. 17 with the baked out green that Mark O'Meara said was so hard it was like "the L.A. freeway" was the third-toughest.

Only three holes were easier than the par-five 15th, the hole that Norman bogeyed on Sunday despite having a wedge to the green. The par-five 13th played the easiest at 4.615.

And how tough was the course over all? In four rounds, the field played Augusta National in a combined 589 over par.

MONEY NEWS

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