Ken Duke has played six consecutive weeks on the PGA TOUR. He's made 17 starts in the first 22 weeks of the 2012 season. That's a lot of time spent inside the ropes for any player, but especially one who's 43 years old.
"I feel good about taking a week off next week," Duke said. "That's what it's all about. I think that's kind of why I'm pretty free this week."
Despite the rugged playing schedule, Duke has played well all year. He has four top-10 finishes in those 17 starts and entered this week ranked 44th in FedExCup points. He ended last year by winning the Nationwide Tour Championship at Daniel Island but has yet to break through with his first PGA TOUR win.
Maybe that changes this weekend.
"It is great to be up here on the TOUR and be on the leaderboard," Duke said. "I'm just trying to do what I can do and I can't control everyone else."
Following his opening-round 65, Ken Duke talks about his play in the 2012 Zurich Classic of New Orleans with Fred Albers from SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
AVONDALE, La. -- The way Ken Duke sees it, patience is the key to prospering at TPC Louisiana.
"You can't hit it four, five feet every hole because there's so many mounds on the greens," Duke explained. "You have to take your 30-foot putt here, 30-foot the putt there and take what it gives you. If you roll one in, you roll one in. I did that a couple times today."
A couple of times, indeed. Duke may have been a tad slow-starting, grinding out four pars before making his first birdie, but the veteran from Arkansas took advantage of his opportunities and was rewarded with a 65 that put him in the lead.
Duke broke out of a tie with his playing partner, Daniel Chopra, when he made a 3-footer for birdie at the par-5 18th to finish at 7 under. Once again, patience was key -- he had 251 to the front of the green and knew he'd need a perfect shot. So he played smart and laid up to set up the tap-in birdie.
"I felt like my wedge game has been pretty good and just want to keep the momentum going instead of trying to go for it and hit it in the water and make a bogey and come out tomorrow trying to fight back," Duke said. "Wanted to keep it in front of us."
Duke, who hit 17 greens and used just 28 putts, said he came to New Orleans well-rested. He also spent time pouring over video of past events at TPC Louisiana -- most likely the 2007 event where Duke finished second -- and the "good vibes" he got appear to be paying off.
"I just think the fans and lot of the people on the board that I got to know and some of the volunteers, it feels like I'm playing in my home course, but it's just a great atmosphere here," Duke said. "They feed you unbelievable. Everything goes on downtown is awesome. I don't know.
"If you look on the PGA TOUR there's guys that play good in certain spots and seems like this is mine."
Duke has been playing well lots of places this year after regaining his TOUR card by finishing seventh on the Nationwide Tour money list, thanks to a win in the season-ending event. He's had three top-10s in 11 starts, including a tie for seventh at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am where he played in the final group on Sunday.
Duke had a pretty darn good group on Thursday, too. Not only did he shoot 65, Chopra finished with a 66 and David Hearn came in with a 68.
"What was really good, and I don't know if I've never done it, we talked about it in the scorer's tent, we didn't have a bogey in our group and we had a couple, you know, 4-footers here and there but that was it," Duke said. "It seemed like we were right there in front of it. That's what happens sometimes when you have a group like this, you kind of feed off each other and keep momentum going."
Watch: Duke's eagle
Ken Duke makes an eagle on the par-4 16th after holing out from the fairway.
No one had ever shot a 29 on the back nine at Pebble Beach in the storied history of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am -- until Ken Duke did it Thursday.
Actually, he finished with a 28. And it could have been even lower.
Duke's torrid run began on the par-4 10th with a birdie. After parring the 11th, he went on a birdie binge that didn't end until he got to the par-4 16th. Instead of a birdie, Duke jarred his approach for an eagle (watch video above). The eagle is just the second at the 16th in the last 20 years.
Duke nearly birdied the 17th: His birdie putt from the fringe just slipped over the cup. He then birdied the par-5 18th after laying up, then pitching to 10 feet.
Duke's 64 is good for the early lead at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Fred Couples withdrew from the Waste Management Phoenix on Wednesday.
Couples, who is ill, was replaced in the field by Ken Duke. Duke will be playing at TPC Scottsdale for the fourth time and looking for his first made cut.
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
In the year of the long putters, here’s one last success story – one that literally changed a career.
Mark Anderson, a second-year Nationwide Tour player, earned his 2012 PGA TOUR card last weekend at the Nationwide Tour Championship at Daniel Island. He finished 22nd on the money list, with nearly half of his $188,550 earned in the final three events.
Just at the time he put a Titleist Kombi belly putter in the bag.
“It’s changed my life, basically,” Anderson explained in a video on the Titleist Tour blog.
Anderson finished second at the Miccosukee Championship, T7 at the Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open presented by Planters and T29 at the season finale.
“I put it in one week, felt a little awkward with it, but I putted great. I’m still in kind of the finicky, playing with it mode, trying to figure it out. But the putter’s great.”
Sounds like it will be going to the TOUR along with Anderson.
WINNING GAMBLE: Ken Duke won the Nationwide Tour Championship, sending him back to the TOUR for the fifth time in his long career.
The 42-year-old had a Never Compromise Limited Edition Black Gambler Royal in his bag (at right), part of a limited edition of 500. The distinctive theme is executed with playing-card suits on the hosel and bottom of the putter.
SURGING: Jeff Overton put Cleveland’s 588 MB irons in play for The McGladrey Classic, where he finished T6. Then, playing as a last-minute replacement for David Duval, he finished runner-up at the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic.
WINNER’S BAG: Bo Van Pelt at the CIMB Asia
Driver: Titleist 909D2 8.5º (Mitsubishi Fubuki 73 shaft)
3-wood: Titleist 910Fd 13.5º (Mitsubishi Diamana Prototype 80 shaft)
Hybrid: Titleist 910H 17º (UST Proforce V2 104 shaft)
Irons: Titleist CB 4-iron; MB 5-P (Nippon NS Pro shaft)
Wedges: Vokey Design Spin Milled (52, 56, 60 degrees)
Putter: TaylorMade Corza Ghost
Ken Duke has aced the 221-yard par-3 second hole, which is actually playing at 190 yards in the second round.
It's the first ace at this event since Vijay Singh aced No. 17 in 2005.
Duke, who opened with a 77, is now 2 under for his second round and 5 over for the tournament.