PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- David Duval was surveying a 15-foot birdie putt Saturday afternoon when he stopped for a moment and gazed out at the Pacific Ocean.
The Pacific was anything but at that point. Huge waves crashed onto the shore across the road from the Monterey Peninsula Country Club Shore Course. What had been a sunny sky was filling with a marine layer, which rushed across the landscape as if late for a party.
Thus it was a dramatic scene Duval surveyed. Which seemed fitting, given that he was trying to effect a little drama of his own.
Duval was 3-under for his round, dropping him to 12-under for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. He hadn't put himself in position to win -- not with Paul Goydos shooting 64 at Pebble Beach and Dustin Johnson pulling eagles out of his hat at Spyglass Hill. But he seemed a cinch to make the cut, which was projected at 4-under.
Then again, nothing has been a cinch for Duval since 2002. And so you couldn't help but imagine what he was thinking as he stared at the horizon. Maybe it was, "The ocean speaks to me, as I understand what it's like to be tossed like a small raft on angry seas."
Or maybe it was, "Hey, cool waves."
OK, we get it. You're tired of hearing the David Duval story. David Duval is tired of telling it. What everybody wants is for the story to change.
Here's something new: Duval made the cut. He missed that birdie try on the sixth hole (his 15th hole of the day). Then he missed another on No. 7. His tee shot on the eighth was so far right that he waved goodbye while it was still in the air. He wound up saving par.
He knocked his tee shot to within three feet at the par-3 ninth, then ran his birdie try four feet past the hole. He settled for par, a round of 67 and a tie for seventh place after three rounds.
This is the 125th PGA Tour event Duval has entered in the last eight years. It's just the 36th time he's made the cut. During that time, he's recorded 19 rounds in the 80s and just one top-10 finish -- last summer's out-of-nowhere tie for second at the U.S. Open.
"I played really well today," he said. "I hit the ball better than I had the first two days. I think I'm in the same boat as most of the other players, I found these greens to be the bumpiest of the three golf courses. They're really, really bad that way. But in general I'm really happy with how I played."
And how was this happiness achieved? There was a time when it seemed Duval could do anything on a golf course -- earn the No. 1 world ranking, win majors, shoot 59. How has he done this week what he's been famously unable to do for most of the past decade?
Duval isn't much help here. For one thing, he probably isn't entirely sure himself. And for another, even if he were, there's no guarantee he would share that information with you. Duval can be, by turns, cryptic and borderline charming. Saturday he was a little of both.
"There's not a whole lot to the recipe," he said. "Just try to hit the fairway and get yourself some putts for birdies. The greens being soft and bumpy the way they are, some are going to bounce in, and some are going to bounce out."
Like his birdie try on the final hole Saturday?
"That was comical," he said. "It was so funny. It missed the hole by--God, it was awful. But that's just how it is out here."
It's a good sign that Duval can still find humor on a golf course, gallows or otherwise. Or passion. Or that he can still stop and smell the salt air. Who knows how any of us would react if we suddenly lost our grip on the thing we love most and do best?
Because the big question with Duval -- even bigger than "What in blazes happened to you?" -- is, "Why keep doing this to yourself?"
The answer to that question, of course, is a week like this. When the game you love finally loves you back.