Duval: Early start is not disrespect
FORMER champion David Duval does not feel disrespected being sent out in the first group for the start of the 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool and insists he is just grateful to have a tee time at all.
The American who won the Claret Jug in 2001 on another north-west course at Lytham St Annes, went out with David Howell and Robert Karlsson at 6.25am this morning.
Some may have perceived that as not treating a former winner with the respect he deserves, but the 42-year-old does not see it that way.
Having seen his career go into a downward spiral after his Open win, with injuries, illness and personal issues all contributing to a spectacular loss of form, Duval is keen to make the most of every opportunity.
"I don't take it as being disrespectful at all," he said. "I have always said I don't care when I tee off, just give me a tee time.
"I am fortunate to have been a past champion and as long as I'm playing golf I'll be coming.
"Everyone has their opinions and favourites but I think this is the most cherished event in golf.
"I take it as Peter Dawson (R&A chief executive) sending me out to make sure the pace gets set properly.
"He is asking me to do him a favour so we're not backing up the course. I hope we're done by 10.25 - if it is up to me we will be."
Such an early start creates its own logistical challenges for any professional golfer, but for a player with Duval's long list of back, neck and wrist injuries there are additional difficulties.
At least he has had some preparation for what lies ahead, as he practised with Tiger Woods in his customary early morning start on Tuesday.
"It is a little harder, I'm getting a little older and stiffer to get up at 4am and it takes a while to get loose and warm," added former world number one Duval, currently ranked 940th having been as low as 1,508 at the end of last year.
"I hit 5.30am balls on Tuesday morning and I still wasn't ready to tee off at 7am.
"I am contemplating whether to go to bed or not. Maybe I should go to the pub till 4am and then come over here? I struggle to go to bed real early but I'm going to have to figure a way to get to sleep at nine o'clock."