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It's difficult to remember, all these years later, that long before golf was about Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and everyone else, David Duval was arguably the best golfer in the world. Tiger Woods was in the middle of a swing change, Mickelson hadn't yet figured out how to win anything outside the Hartford Opens on Tour, and Duval was the guy shooting 59 and threatening to emerge as Woods' true rival.

What happened next was one of the most remarkable falls in sports. Duval won a British Open, but then completely lost his game and has never really been anything close to the player he once was. But in the first round of the U.S. Open today at Bethpage Black, Duval shot a pretty remarkable 67 and is one shot off the lead.

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I write a lot about the reasons I became a sports writer, but this Gary Smith story about Duval, and the death of his brother from cancer, is one of those stories I read 10 years ago in complete awe. It always stuck with me.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring, but it would be a pretty remarkable story to see Duval remain competitive through the weekend.

(You also can't help but wonder: Is Tiger Woods going to make the cut after shooting a 74 in round one? Weather or not, he didn't look very sharp, especially with his short game, in Round 1.)

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