By Doug Ferguson
The Associated Press
KAPALUA, Hawaii — David Duval spent his first full season of professional golf in the minor leagues, finishing No. 8 on what was then the Nike Tour money list to earn his PGA Tour card. Nearly 20 years later, after a career in which he has won a major, a PGA Tour money title and was No. 1 in the world, Duval is willing to go back.
Duval still doesn’t know where he will start his 2013 season, but he figures it will be a year like no other. Duval’s only status is as a past champion. His only mission is to start his season next year in Hawaii, whether that’s the Tournament of Champions or the Sony Open with full status.
“My wife is excited, I’m excited,” Duval said over the weekend. “It’s going to be a different year with me the way things have changed for exemptions. I’ve made it clear that this year is about getting healthy and getting status.”
Duval has endured a number of injuries, the latest a broken toe that kept him from going back to Q-school. He did not return until the Father-Son Challenge last month.
Most tournaments have had their unrestricted sponsor exemptions cut in half to two because the tour is trying to create space for players in a short season.
Duval was disappointed to learn Monday he had been turned down for an exemption to the Humana Challenge, where he delivered one of the most famous moments in tournament history when he shot 59 on the final day to win what was then the Bob Hope Classic. He remains hopeful to get an exemption for Torrey Pines, though he is not standing on the street corner holding out his hat.
“If I have to go play somewhere, I’ll go to the Web.com Tour, too,” Duval said. “I’d like to get in that four-week series at the end of the year.”
Working vacation: Most players head to Augusta National in the weeks before the Masters. Brandt Snedeker is planning ahead. He’s going to Merion.
Snedeker said he has a friend who is a member at Merion and has been trying to line up a golf trip for some time, so this seemed like a good year with Merion hosting the U.S. Open for the first time since 1981.
“I’ve just got a trip with some guys, going up there and play, just a way to get up and see the golf course so I’m not shocked when I get to the U.S. Open,” Snedeker said. “Merion is not a bomber’s paradise. I think they are set up for guys like me who dink it around and keep it in play and don’t do anything stupid.”
The plan is to go at the end of March, but it’s possible Snedeker might wait until after the Masters. He’ll also get in a round at Pine Valley while in the neighborhood.
“We set it up as a way to go up there and have some fun, and also a way for me to get some work done,” he said. “So it worked out great. It’s a rough trip, but somebody has got to do it.”
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