PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – You have to fight your way through a crowd of six tied atop the leaderboard – navigating through a media guide, of course, since Alex Cejka, Matt Jones and Bryce Molder are among those setting the pace – but once you do that, you find the name saturated in the most intrigue halfway through the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Nearly 10 years to the day when he surpassed Tiger Woods to become No. 1 in the world, nine years removed from his last PGA Tour win and eight years separated from his last 36-hole lead, Duval is in the thick of things here on the edge of the Pacific.
Duval, 38, followed Thursday’s 67 at Spyglass Hill with a 68 at Pebble Beach and if not for a bogey at the difficult par-3 17th, he’d have shared the lead at 10 under.
As it is, he is thrilled to be just one off the lead heading into Saturday’s round at Monterey Peninsula – especially since earlier in the week he didn’t think he’d play. Duval said he walked away from a practice round Monday at Pebble Beach and figured “I wasn’t going to play, at that point.”
But each day he has felt a little better, so here he is, in contention for the first time since last summer’s dramatic U.S. Open. This time, he’s even reunited with Mitch Knox, who was Duval’s caddie during those years of glory (1997-2001) when they won 13 times and became No. 1.
Just don’t suggest it feels like old times.
“I’ve shrunk and gotten fatter. He’s shrunk and gotten fatter,” Duval said, laughing.