By RODNEY PAGE
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 15, 2001
LUTZ -- The pair of scars on Bob Duval's right elbow act as a constant reminder of a promising season gone bad.
Duval started 2000 with a fourth-place finish at the Royal Caribbean Classic in Key Biscayne.
Then came a streak of four tournaments in which he didn't finish above 38th. In the Emerald Coast Classic in Pensacola in late March, Duval aggravated an elbow injury when he hit a tree stump playing his ball out of a hazard.
Duval withdrew from the tournament and had surgery in April to remove bone spurs.
"It was Lee Trevino that found my ball at the Emerald Classic when I hit it off the stump and injured my elbow in the first place," Duval said. "And it was Trevino that told me I needed to get surgery on it. If I was a club pro still, I probably wouldn't have even noticed it. But playing all the time(, I could tell something was wrong."
Duval, 54, took nine months off, the longest he has been away from the game since the mid-1970s, when he had spinal fusion surgery for his fourth and fifth vertebrae. He started hitting balls in December, but said that didn't do much good because of the cold weather in Jacksonville.
His first tournament since the surgery was the MasterCard Championship in Hawaii, where he finished 31st. He was tied for 47th at last weekend's ACE Group Classic in Naples and is 38th on the 2001 money list with $26,990 in three events.
In Wednesday's pro-am, Duval shot 7-under 64, but said he's not comfortable with his elbow.
"It's getting better, but it's hard to keep a rhythm," said Duval, who has a special medical extension that makes him exempt on this year's tour. "I'll have a couple good rounds and then a bad one. It could be a Friday, Saturday or Sunday."
HALE THE GRANDFATHER: Hale Irwin became a grandfather for the first time when his daughter, Becky, gave birth to a son, Dylan Spencer Meyer, Monday night. The baby weighed 8 pounds, 5 ounces and was 20 inches long.
WELL-TRAVELED: Stewart Ginn has been all over the world in his professional career. The Australian native who lives in Malaysia has had extended stays on the Australian and Japanese tours and played in more than 20 countries.
But until last season, Ginn rarely played in the United States. He has been in six PGA events since turning pro in 1971, and his best finish was 29th at the 1980 World Series of Golf.
Ginn, 51, has found his niche on the Senior PGA Tour. A rookie last season, he finished 29th with $717,058. The top 31 are exempt from qualifying. Last weekend, he was third and earned $100,800.
"When I was 44, I had to make a decision," Ginn said. "If I wanted to play on the seniors, then I had to keep my (Japanese tour) card for another six years. So that's what I did. I geared everything to playing on the senior tour.
"I especially like this tournament. All the boys talk about it. It's one of the best tournaments we play all year."
PRO-AM: Duval's 64 was the low round of the day for professionals. The Bobby Walzel team (Dean Golf, John Trofimuk, Marcel Henry and Tom Schroeder) and the Dave Stockton team (Jimmy Piloto, Tom Huners, Joe Kuklish and John Newberry) shot 20-under-par 51 to win.