Duval pounds pavement for Tour exemptions

David Duval will play next week's Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on a sponsor exemption.

David Duval will play next week's Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on a sponsor exemption.

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When David Duval won The Players Championship in 1999, he never could have imagined it would be worth a spot in the 2014 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Yet that's the reason Duval will make the trip from Denver to the Monterey Peninsula next week.

Duval, 42, a former World No. 1, will make his season debut on the West Coast. Unless he has a top-10 finish next week at Pebble Beach, it will be his only stop on the West Coast swing.

“I thought I'd get a couple of starts beyond the one at AT&T on the West Coast,” Duval said from his home in Denver. “But it's tough, and that’s OK. I will try to make hay when I get a chance.”

Duval made it clear that he will give it his all this year, and if he doesn’t regain his PGA Tour card, he might be done as a touring pro.

But if he gets the starts, he thinks he can regain a Tour card.

In 28 starts since the beginning of the 2012 season, Duval has made five cuts, most recently at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in mid-November after an opening-round 67.

The last time Duval recorded a top 10 or better in a PGA Tour event came in February 2011 at the Northern Trust Open when he finished T-9 with a 6-under weekend of 69-67.

That same event decided Friday not to grant the 2001 Open Championship winner a sponsor exemption, instead opting for rookie Max Homa, Hall of Fame member Fred Couples, France's Victor Dubuisson, the Netherlands' Joost Luiten and Italy’s Francesco Molinari.

“There is a whole art and science in filling these spots,” said Bob Marra, tournament director of the Humana Challenge. “It's one of the toughest parts of this job.”

The Humana Challenge didn’t grant a request from Duval, despite his status as a former champion. Tournament officials said they received the request too late and had already determined their exemptions.

But even it if the exemptions already had been awarded, Duval is fighting against a pool of quality players looking for spots, and the competition is getting fiercer.

“I lost my game, I lost my confidence and I lost the enjoyment of the game," Duval said. “But I got that all back, and I can play.”

His winning resume means little now, and Duval is fine with that fact. But he'd like the chance to show the world that he still can play with the best in the world and earn his way back to the weekly Tour.

Duval also will receive an exemption into the Puerto Rico Open on March 6-9, but he is unsure of the rest of his schedule and will continue to request exemptions in hopes of a few starts.

“I’m going to have fun,” Duval said of his start next week with amateur partner Mike Glenn, chief executive officer of FedEx. “I plan to play well and regain my status this year.”

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