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Rant: Duval picked the wrong time and place for return

PETE YOUNG
Published June 20, 2004

Every comeback starts somewhere. But for David Duval, it shouldn't have been at the U.S. Open.

Duval, of course, has the right to play any event he can get into, but that doesn't mean he should. And he definitely shouldn't have played the Open.

Duval was awful last season by PGA Tour standards, one of the worst out there. Then he didn't play for eight months, taking a lengthy sabbatical.

When the former world No. 1-ranked player finally decided to play again, he needed to make sure he didn't throw himself into the fray unprepared.

Oops.

Duval said he was not tournament ready for the Open. Then why was he playing in a tournament, much less the most difficult one in the world?

Duval said he was seeking happiness. Instead he found delusion, saying after his opening-round 83, "All in all, I would call it an enormous victory for me." He finished 25 over, second to last, and missed the cut by 20. Hard to see the triumph in that.

Hopefully, Duval finds happiness, rediscovers his game and reclaims a place among the best in the world. But he would have been better off working on his game, spending some time with his new family and plotting a legitimate comeback plan.

Duval should have forfeited his Open spot to the next guy, one of the thousands who try to qualify, instead of playing his meaningless two rounds.

Rave: With Rays now winning, what's next - pigs fly?

The Bucs won the Super Bowl, and the Lightning won the Stanley Cup. Okay, those were plausible. But the Rays threatening to be mediocre?

What might have incited a giggle attack a few weeks ago isn't funny anymore to the Orioles and Blue Jays, who this week craned their necks to look up at the rip-roaring Rays in the AL East standings.

Tampa Bay is playing the best baseball in its existence. That's faint praise, of course, but this isn't: The Rays were playing the best baseball in baseball over the previous month heading into the weekend.

A month - not a series or a week. A month is a good chunk of the season. It's too big of a sample to be a major fluke. It only can be a semi-fluke.

And the future looks brighter. B.J. Upton lurks in Triple A, where he is cementing his status as baseball's consensus top prospect. Delmon Young's pro career is just starting, but most experts think he's a bona fide major-league slugger in waiting.

The pitching prospects suddenly look better, too. Youngsters Dewon Brazelton (on the mend after the Rays screwed up his mechanics) and Chad Gaudin appear to have the stuff to bolster the tepid rotation.

What's more absurd - A) a Lightning fan saying after the 2002 season that it would win the Cup in 2004; or B) a Rays fan saying today they will make the playoffs in 2005?

The days of the hapless Rays could be ending.

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