|Duval returned to Lytham, the scene of the proverbial crime from 2001. (AP)|
When David Duval won the Open Championship in 2001 at Lytham, it looked like the launching point for a great golf career. Instead, it was the opposite for Duval, whose game fell apart shortly thereafter, causing him to leave golf for several years.
He later returned to golf and has largely been irrelevant, save a second-place finish at the 2009 U.S. Open. The 2012 Open Championship is special, however, as it represents the first time the Open's been played here since Duval won 11 years ago.
Duval missed the cut, shooting 5-over on the first two days of play, but felt good about the way he played in his "surreal" return.
"Probably a bit surreal," Duval told Mike Tirico of ESPN when asked about his return to Lytham. "I made the remark earlier in the week that when I went to Muirfield the following year I was defending champion but didn't quite feel like it because it was a different venue. And I may have felt as much of a defending champion 11 years later as I did at Muirfield."
Duval is the first to admit it -- the statistics don't make his game look pretty. But at the age of 40, no one really expects him to suddenly start lighting courses up, and Duval believes he's playing "beautifully" right now, regardless of what the scorecard says.
"I am at peace. I know I'm playing beautifully," Duval said. "I know I've worked real hard to get here. If you look simply at the stat sheets and the scores, I know it's not reflective of what I feel and what I know I'm doing. Over the past six months I've put in a lot of time. I started out the year really rough. I felt bad, I felt awful, just a really disastrous start.
"But I really feel great about what I'm doing now. And coming here, I couldn't have asked to play better golf tee-to-green, I just didn't get it done."
Duval's best finish this season is 60th, although he had some top-10 finishes in 2011. But his best days are behind him, and the odds of ever seeing him win another major are microcosmic. Maybe he'll never even win another tournament.
But it's good to see that he's come to terms with his legacy and figured out a way to straighten his head out enough to make a return to Lytham.