Duval earns respect for front charge


ST. ANDREWS, Scotland - This was not the Masters, where David Duval blew a chance to stay close to Vijay Singh back in April and where he blew a two-shot lead with three holes to play two years ago to Mark O'Meara.

In losing yesterday's final-round matchup with Tiger Woods in the 129th British Open, Duval gained the respect that eluded him before.

He showed courage on the front nine when he closed to within three shots of the lead, making four birdies in the first seven holes and nearly a fifth. He showed the proper respect for Woods after putting up a good fight that proved a little embarrassing at the end.

"Obviously I'm disappointed with the finish," Duval said after a quadruple-bogey 8 on the par-4 17th hole caused him to free-fall from a tie for second to a tie for 11th. "I thought that what I accomplished on the front nine was probably exactly what I needed to do, really cut the deficit, then just start from there in.

"Just as everything turned out good on the front nine, that's how bad everything turned out on the back."

It went from good to bad to downright ugly for Duval by the time he reached the bunker on the par-4 17th. Having already taken himself out of contention with bogeys at the par-4 12th, 13th and 16th holes, Duval took four shots to get out of the bunker, including slapping at the ball behind his back.

"The first one I was figuring out whether it would be smarter to play it left or right," Duval said later. "I couldn't get the ball to hit to the right. To the left, the lip was no lower. The second time again you're just trying to look around to figure the best option to get out. The third shot, I am trying not to hit myself with anything."

Duval finally got the ball out - barely -and two-putted from 20 feet for an 8. It wound up costing Duval, who finished at 7-under par 281, approximately $263,000 in prize money. Asked if the bunker, considered the most difficult on the course, is unfair, Duval said: "I don't judge fair or unfair. ... I think it's a waste of our time to talk about it."

Nice take on second

By finishing tied with Thomas Bjorn of Denmark for second place, Ernie Els became the first player since Jack Nicklaus to finish second in three of the four majors. Els can complete the Runner-up Slam at next month's PGA Championship at Valhalla in Louisville, Ky.

A friend's take

Mark O'Meara, who won both the Masters and British Open in 1998, had his best finish at a major since coming in tied for fourth at that year's PGA Championship. O'Meara shot a final round of 1-under par 71 to finish 5-under par 283, tied for 26th.

He even stayed around to watch Woods, his Florida neighbor and friend, celebrate.

"I think he was happy for me that I'd won, as a friend, but yet I think he realized in his own mind that he wanted to see his name printed on that trophy very soon," said O'Meara, who beat Brian Watts in a four-hole playoff at Royal Birkdale.

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