David Duval will not be in the Humana Challenge 2013, he tweeted Jan. 7, explaining he would not be receiving an exemption into the tournament. This begs the question as to why this great pro who pulled off the most famous single feat in the tournament's history would not receive an exemption into the same tournament he left every one so breathless over. Regardless, Duval is telling people to support the importance and historic value of this tournament even if he is not playing in it.
Duval famously won the 1999 Bob Hope Classic with a final-round 59. His 10-year exemption for winning the tournament ran out a few years ago, and he is not fully exempt on the tour these days because he has not recently played like his old self. There have been some extenuating circumstances, including injuries last fall that prevented him from playing in the tour’s qualifying finals, yet it has been 10 years since his last tour win -- and in the last eight years, Duval has truly struggled, making just 53 cuts in 169 starts since the start of the 2005 season.
Keep in mind, this is David Duval -- a major championship winner, a 13-time winner on the tour and the pro who played the most mythical round golf in the history of the Humana/Hope with his breathtaking 59 on the Palmer Course at PGA West to overcome a seven-shot deficit to win in 1999. There is also a plaque in the middle of the fairway honoring Duval’s final-hole eagle that praises his outstanding 59.
These are the kinds of decisions a PGA Tour event has to make with their limited sponsors' exemptions. Dozens of letters are received by tournaments each year from pros looking for a chance to play. Some are from players who have never made a name for themselves on the tour. Others are from pros who made a name for themselves once but haven’t done a lot lately, like Duval.
Tournament officials must balance the desire to help pros who have helped and supported the tournament with a desire to bring the best players to the tournament. They must also factor in a desire to bring players to the event that might boost the crowd interest.
If you believe Duval’s tweet, and there is no reason not to believe he has heard the news from the tournament. The Humana Challenge officials decided that there were other ways to go with their exemptions than Duval. Duval has tweeted in the last few weeks (since joining Twitter) that his goals for the year are to stay healthy and regain his full status on tour. He was hoping for a start at the Humana and in San Diego. He knows for sure he is playing at Pebble Beach.
Some will say this is Duval’s own doing by playing so poorly he lost his exemptions. Others will say the tournament owes Duval, a past champion and an icon for his 59 round, a little more respect than turning down an exemption request.
So what would you do: reward the winner from 14 years ago and concentrate on the guy who missed the cut in nearly 70 percent of his starts in the last eight years? Clearly there is no easy answer, but given the chance, David Duval can take the tour by storm once again. Don't bet against him if he is given the opportunity.