DUVAL'S emotions show through with the sunglasses off

Monday, July 23rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England (AP) _ The wraparound sunglasses came off, and the most emotion David Duval probably will ever show spilled out.

It was nothing more than a smile of relief and eyes brimming with contentment. Together, though, they revealed a lot about Duval and what his first major golf championship meant.

A final-round 67 Sunday did more than just get Duval's name engraved on the claret jug right beneath that of Tiger Woods. It also took away forever the hated label of the best player never to win a major.

Duval knew all that. Yet he struggled more to put it into words than he did with his clubs on a brilliant, sunny day on the links of Royal Lytham & St. Annes to win the British Open.

The look on his face would have to suffice.

``You know, I beat them all this week and I feel really good,'' Duval said. ``It feels wonderful.''

The world's No. 1 player before Woods, Duval was No. 1 at Royal Lytham because he was able to fashion weekend rounds of 65 and 67 on a golf course that wasn't meant to give up two rounds that low in a row.

In the final round, he navigated his way out of knee-high rough five different times in the final round, and beat Sweden's Niclas Fasth by three shots and hard-luck Ian Woosnam and five others by four.

Last year, he flew home with close friend Woods on Woods' jet after his buddy had won. This time he had the same claret jug Woods carried in his arms. Only now it had his name on it, too.

``I like the position of my name right below his,'' Duval said. ``It looks like it is in the right spot.''

Whether it stays there remains to be seen. Woods has six major titles, and Duval has a long way to go to catch up.

Still, winning the second is always easier than the first. Duval knows, after four years of coming close in the Masters.

``It's kind of a big relief,'' he said. ``It's so pressure packed in the major championships, and then you put it on a golf course like this where any minor mistake is magnified and that makes the pressure even greater. You just can't let up and I didn't let up today.

Stoic behind his sunglasses, Duval certainly wasn't the favorite of the massive crowds that packed grandstands and fairways on Royal Lytham. That role belonged to long-suffering Colin Montgomerie and a suddenly sympathetic figure in Woosnam.

Montgomerie started a stroke behind, bogeyed the third hole and was never a factor. Woosnam became one, but because his caddie didn't count, it wasn't enough.

After nearly making a hole-in-one on the par-3 first hole to take a share of the lead, Woosnam put a tee in the ground and turned to his caddie for a club on the second tee.

What he got instead was a jolt. Caddie Miles Byrne had left a second driver in the bag and Woosnam would get a two-stroke penalty for having more than the 14-club limit.

``I felt like I had been kicked in the teeth,'' Woosnam said.

Woosnam would bogey two of the next three holes before making an aborted charge that got him within two strokes of the lead on the back nine at one point.

Back in Ponte Vedre, Fla., Duval's father, senior tour player Bob Duval, was watching from home. The night before he and his son had talked about drinking cognac out of the claret jug if he brought the trophy home.

``He's never talked to me about the frustration of not winning a major,'' Bob Duval said. ``All he's ever said is that he should have won two or three Masters. Today was a look of fun to watch.''