US Open notebook

Duval ranked right up there

David Duval got a belated Father’s Day hug from son Brayden after he shot 71 to finish in a tie for second at the US Open. David Duval got a belated Father’s Day hug from son Brayden after he shot 71 to finish in a tie for second at the US Open. (Chris Mcgrath/Getty Images)
By Michael Whitmer
Globe Staff / June 23, 2009
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FARMINGDALE, N.Y. - To someone ranked No. 882 in the world, finishing second in the US Open would probably come as a big surprise. But when the someone is David Duval, surprise isn’t the right word, at least to him. Strange as it sounds, he thought it was appropriate.

“It’s what I want. It may be arrogance, but it’s where I feel I belong,’’ said Duval, who overcame a triple bogey on his first hole of the day, the par-3 third, then clawed back into a tie for the lead with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 15-16 before a bogey at No. 17.

“I stand before you certainly happy with how I played, but extremely disappointed in the outcome. I had no question in my mind I was going to win the golf tournament today.’’

Bold, considering he hadn’t finished better than 20th in his last 50 PGA Tour events. But Duval has been encouraged by his play this year, even if the results weren’t showing it. Qualifying for this tournament gave him even more confidence, and he took a huge step here, opening with a 3-under-par 67 and never losing sight of the leaders. He became one with a birdie at the par-4 16th, but missed a par putt on the next hole. For the tournament, nobody made more birdies than Duval’s 19.

While others may have wilted under the pressure, Duval embraced it. No surprise, considering it had been awhile. Once ranked No. 1 in the world, Duval’s downward spiral had been years in the making. Maybe this is the surest sign yet that he’s on his way back.

“I may have taken it a little bit for granted years ago,’’ Duval said. “I guess the best way to put it, maybe, is I probably had a lot more fun out there in the heat of it, especially over there on the theater of [holes] 15 through 18, than I’ve had on a golf course in a long time.

“I was in the middle of the golf tournament trying to make birdies and I was just having a blast. So that probably qualifies as greater appreciation.’’

Woods done in at 15
When he analyzes why he didn’t win, Tiger Woods can point to his struggles at the end of his first round, when he played the last four holes in 4 over, the same number of strokes he lost by. Tied for 81st after 18 holes, Woods steadily inched toward the lead. At one point during the third round, he trailed Ricky Barnes by 15 shots. When he coaxed home a birdie on the par-3 14th hole, his deficit was just four, with Woods getting his score under par for the first time in the tournament. But that’s where his run ended. He bogeyed the 15th.

“I had a lot of work to do and I gave myself a chance,’’ Woods said. “As well as I hit it all day and to miss that many putts, I’ve missed them all week, so that’s just the way it is.’’

It’s the ninth top-10 finish for Woods in his past 10 majors, but he doesn’t play for top 10s. He’ll resume the chase for his 15th major at the British Open at Turnberry; his next appearance on the PGA Tour will come in the AT&T National in two weeks, a tournament he hosts.

Stick figures
Hunter Mahan was only two shots off the lead on the 16th hole, and his approach to the par 4 looked like it would settle close to the hole and set up a crucial birdie putt. But Mahan’s shot hit the flagstick and bounced 30 feet away, ending up on the fringe. A cruel break. To make matters worse, he took three shots from there for a bogey, then bogeyed the 17th.

“That happens. It’s a US Open,’’ said Mahan. “You’re going to get stuff like that.’’

Rallying cry
Phil Mickelson always has the loudest galleries in New York, and he said that passion would be perfect for a different event. “I just keep thinking that this is the ideal spot to hold the Ryder Cup,’’ Mickelson said. “The way the fans are, I think that we’d have a big advantage.’’

Rain men
Players praised the grounds crew, who kept the course playable in adverse conditions. Bethpage Black superintendent Craig Currier had more than 200 (staffers and volunteers) working on the course, starting their days as early as 3:15 a.m. . . . Nick Taylor of Canada took low medalist honors for amateurs, shooting a 75 in the final round and edging Drew Weaver by a shot. Kyle Stanley also made the cut . . . Trevor Murphy of St. Johnsbury, Vt., triple bogeyed the 15th hole and doubled the 16th, and shot a final-round 80. He tied for 58th and, with $20,630, earned the biggest paycheck of his young pro career . . . Kevin Sutherland eagled the par-4 sixth hole . . . In the final round, there was only one birdie on the par-4 fifth (Peter Hanson) and one on the par-4 10th (Kenny Perry), which played to a 4.62 stroke average. For the week, the par-4 15th played toughest, at 4.47, and yielded the fewest birdies (17).