<
>

Don't call it a comeback for Duval

"I've tried to make changes for the best," NFL wide receiver Randy Moss once said. "I've tried to do a 360."

And credit NBA point guard Jason Kidd with this gem: "We're going to turn this team around 360 degrees."

Their slips of the tongue notwithstanding, David Duval is attempting to make a 360-degree turn of his own. Once one of the world's top players, Duval has already exceeded last season's production in just two events so far this year as he tries to cement a return to form that would truly bring his career full circle.

The Weekly 18 investigates his recent renaissance, with a little help from a lyrical rapper.

1. Duval trying to 'do a 360'
Don't call it a comeback
I been here for years.

Sorry, golf fans. LL Cool J wasn't rapping about erstwhile 13-time PGA Tour champion David Duval when he penned those words. After all, Duval hasn't exactly "been here for years" -- he was here and gone and is now, seemingly, back again among some of the world's top professional golfers.

However, that's not to say some of LL's other lyrics don't sum up Duval's recent struggles quite aptly.

Mama Said Knock You Out. Once the world's top-ranked player and a British Open champion five years ago, Duval has been knocked from elite status since then. He currently ranks 440th in the Official World Golf Ranking, just behind such notables as Benn Barham and Brad Sutterfield.

How bad did it get for Duval? Last season, he made only one cut in 20 starts -- a T-60 finish at the Texas Open. So far this year, he is 2-for-2 in cuts made with a T-31 at the Sony Open and a T-53 at the Hope this week. OK, so he's not exactly tearing up the record books, but it could be a sign of things to come as Duval should build upon this start as he continues playing more on tour.

Goin' Back to Cali. Surely, Duval recalls the good times when he teed it up in the desert, like that final-round 59 to win the Bob Hope back in 1999. But more likely, he remembers more recent history at the event.

In this space exactly one year ago, the Weekly 18 chronicled Duval's troubles where he once reigned. The results were ugly: He missed the cut by 41 strokes; his four-round total of 318 was 20 strokes worse than the next-closest competitor, Lanny Wadkins, who was a 55-year-old TV announcer; his third-round 85 featured a back-nine 49 that included four triple-bogeys; and he drove the ball into the fairway a mere 34.5 percent of the time.
For now, at least, results like these are a thing of the past.

Big Ole Butt. The former workout fiend has bulked up recently ... but not in the muscular regions. Duval has gained about 20-30 pounds, and reportedly now sports a 38-inch waistline. Perhaps this is a secret to his success. Such players as Craig Stadler and John Daly have also found their weight to be inversely proportional to their golf scores.

Whatever the case, The Story of David Duval is going to bear watching throughout this season.

2. Mm-mm good
Chad Campbell won this week's Bob Hope Classic and it wasn't just a well-deserved victory, it was a much-needed one. Last week, Campbell finished T-2 at the Sony, but wasn't necessarily unhappy with the result considering he'd barely played any golf for two months beforehand. Failure to win the Hope would have stung a little more had he not sealed the deal on Sunday. In five previous situations in which he had led or been tied for the lead entering the final round, including last week at Waialae, he won only once. And, perhaps most importantly of all to Campbell, the two top-two finishes so far put him in great shape to make this year's Ryder Cup team, which he recently said is his No. 1 goal this year.

3. Tune up
Campbell isn't a very vocal guy, but he seems pretty comfortable around vocalists. Included among the celebrity groups Campbell was paired with in the second round was the eclectic trio of Alice Cooper, Darius Rucker and Justin Timberlake (can you imagine what kind of song those three could collaborate on?). Campbell fared well that day, shooting 66 on his way to the victory. And why shouldn't Campbell be at ease around lead singers? After all, his wife, Amy, is a lead vocalist herself and has released an album.

4. Celebrity hit club
Matthew McConaughey almost made a hole-in-one on Friday at PGA West, but came up inches short. His buddy and playing partner Roger Clemens one-upped him on Saturday, acing the 180-yard second hole on the Classic Course during the final round of the celebrity portion of the Bob Hope Classic. It turned out to be a pretty important shot, as Clemens, McConaughey and Mike Eruzione defeated a group led by Marshall Faulk by one shot to win the title. They also brought out the best in their professional partners, playing with Campbell as he extended his lead on Friday, and Jesper Parnevik during his brilliant round of 10-under 62 on Saturday.

5. A clever 'Ruz
He shoots, he scores! Do you believe in miracles? Yes! The puns were predictable, yet poetic when Eruzione, former Team USA hockey captain and 8-handicapper, chipped in on the fifth hole at PGA West on Friday. Although Eruzione's 1980 gold medal is one of the most revered sports accomplishments titles of all-time, it likely took a backseat in discussions this week with Texans -- and big-time University of Texas football fans -- Clemens and McConaughey rounding out the threesome.

6. Five alive?
Oh, where have you gone, elite golfers of the world? Through three weeks of the PGA Tour season, the top-five players -- Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Phil Mickelson -- were eligible for 14 total events, but made only three starts. So much for starting the season off on the right foot. Woods and Goosen skipped each of the first three events (Tiger will make his debut when he defends his title at this week's Buick Invitational) and Els has failed to show for each of the two so far for which he was qualified. Singh finally took a week off this past week after a pair of top-six finishes, and Mickelson made his debut at the Bob Hope, finishing T-5.

7. Three-peat
Mickelson loves the desert, as evidenced by his five top-12 finishes, including two victories, in his last five starts at the Bob Hope. In the sometimes-inexplicable Official World Golf Ranking, Mickelson slipped from third to fifth this past week, despite the fact that both players who passed him -- Goosen and Els -- had yet to play a tournament in '06, either. It's likely Lefty will regain that No. 3 spot with his top-five finish at the Hope. Making his season debut, he looked to be in midseason form, shooting rounds of 66-69-68-67-71, carding only five bogeys over 90 holes.

8. Standing Pat
The good news for Pat Perez after the first round of the Bob Hope? He shot an unbelievable round that included 12 birdies and no bogeys for a 12-under 60 to take a three-stroke lead. The bad news? He could have done better. "I know it's hard to say," Perez said after his round, "but I left two par-5s with easy shots, right in the middle of the fairway and two-putted there." Among them was an eight-footer on the 3rd hole at PGA West. Perez eventually birdied his final three holes of the day, but you've got to wonder how he would have fared with the pressure of a 59 -- or even an elusive 58, which has never been carded on tour -- coming on those last few holes.

9. In Cook's kitchen
What once was old is new again. John Cook, who's just a year-and-a-half away from becoming Champions Tour eligible, hasn't faired too well recently. Last season, he made the cut in only nine of 26 events with his only top-10 coming at the season-ending Southern Farm Bureau Classic. He began this season much the same way, finishing T-139 in the 143-player field at the Sony Open. But Cook sprung back to life in the third round of the Bob Hope, following rounds of 70-74 with a Friday best 9-under 63. A two-time champion, he finished T-19 and should be able to build on this momentum throughout the season.

10. Getting his just desert
Cook wasn't the only player who found the Fountain of Youth in the desert this week. Lee Janzen's 2005 stats look eerily similar to those of Cook, with 12 made cuts in 26 starts and only one top-10 finish. Yet there was Janzen, 41, in contention at the Hope through the first three rounds in his season debut. But the two-time U.S. Open champion faltered on Saturday, as a triple-bogey on PGA West's 13th hole led to a 78 and he missed the cut by one shot.

11. Two bad
It's been tough times for the two darlings of the '05 season so far this year. After side-by-side finishes at the bottom of the leaderboard in Kapalua, Sean O'Hair and Jason Gore have really struggled. O'Hair missed the cut at the Sony Open, and was cruising along with three sub-par rounds at the Hope until a fourth-round 78 left him below the cutline. That was still better than Gore, who finished dead last of all players who completed four full rounds in the desert. How bad have things gotten for the Prince of Pinehurst? In 10 rounds this year, he has yet to shoot even-par.

12. The mark of DiMarco
It took Chris DiMarco nearly four years, through a playoff at the '04 PGA Championship and another one at last year's Masters, but he finally won an event on Sunday -- his first victory since the '02 FBR Open -- claiming the inaugural Abu Dhabi Championship by one stroke over Henrik Stenson. "It feels great to be in the winner's circle," DiMarco said. "A win anywhere is a win -- and this in an unbelievable field." Presidents Cup captain Jack Nicklaus may have been a soothsayer when he said last September, "He keeps chipping away at that next level, and, you know, I would be very, very surprised if he doesn't go right to that next level the next time he's out." For DiMarco, there was only one variable different than every other week: His wife, Amy, was his caddie throughout all four rounds. Here's wondering what she's going to do with that 10 percent of the winner's check (the normal caddie's take for guiding a player to victory).

13. Under ad-visor-ment
Attention, investors: Just bought stock in that new visor company? Uh, might want to reconsider. Late last season, Mickelson eschewed his traditional headgear in favor of a regular baseball-style cap, saying the visor's opening left his head sunburned, and has since stayed with the look. This week Singh followed suit, blocking the rays of the toasty Abu Dhabi sun by also choosing a cap over his usual visor. Truth be told, Singh looked a bit different in the new style, but it's hardly a surprise. After all, this is a guy who switched putters in the midst of a nine-win season two years ago, so there's no reason he couldn't withstand a head-covering change, too.

14. Hair today, gone tomorrow
Sergio Garcia showed up in Hawaii a few weeks ago with long, curly, blonde locks under his cap, part of a pact with buddies Adam Scott and Tim Clark in which each player would let their hair grow out (perhaps an homage to ponytailed European Tour superstar Miguel Angel Jimenez?). Although our spies in the United Arab Emirates couldn't confirm, Garcia's coiffure looked a bit shorn during this week's Abu Dhabi Championship.

15. Daly dose
The Golf Channel debuted its newest reality series this week and "The Daly Planet" -- featuring PGA Tour star John Daly -- was, well ... real. In case you missed it, cameras followed Long John for an entire day as he opened a new golf course, attempted to clear Niagara Falls with a tee shot, took a harrowing helicopter ride and gave myriad interviews. The end result? Daly may not win a Best Actor award -- in fact, there's no act at all; it's just John being John -- but it's worth investing 30 minutes per week to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse at professional golf's most intriguing figure. The biggest drawback, however? We'd like to see some spontaneity to the show. Rather than canned episodes from the 2005 season, how cool would it be watch Daly prepare for the current week's event?

16. World beater
So much for the Sorenstam Slump. For those of you who expected Annika Sorenstam to see a downward turn in her career path this season -- c'mon, there must be a few of you -- keep waiting. After a season in which she owned a .500 winning percentage -- 10 victories in 20 starts -- Sorenstam is now 1-for-1 already this year. She teamed with Liselotte Neumann to give Sweden a three-stroke victory at the Women's World Cup (which is an official LPGA Tour event, but won't count towards Sorenstam's career victory total) on Sunday.

17. Improved driving accuracy
She hasn't won a professional event. She hasn't made the cut on the PGA Tour. But you can no longer say Michelle Wie hasn't won anything. Earlier this week, Wie won the approval of the Honolulu Department of Motor Vehicles by passing her driver's test. Now all she needs is a car. Wonder where a 16-year-old that has multi-million-dollar contracts with Nike and Sony is going to scrounge up enough cash to purchase an automobile. Hmmm ....

18. Quote of the week
"I'm really not an angry person. I like to have fun."
-- Pat Perez, on his image as the PGA Tour's hothead.

Jason Sobel is ESPN.com's golf editor. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn3.com