By Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- He's been splitting time between the golf course and the beach.
Just enough work. Just enough play. Working on the rough edges of his swing. Scouring the beach with the kids for starfish and sharks teeth and fossilized turtle shells.
Duval, who won here in 1999, threw out an opening 2-under-par 70 Thursday afternoon and had everyone wondering if he really is right. That he's thisclose to playing really well.
"I think I've made it perfectly clear on more than one occasion that I feel good about what I'm doing,'' he said. " I don't feel like I've gotten very much out of it, out of my game. I haven't scored particularly well this year, but I feel like for the most part I've played well.''
He said this opening round -- his first here since 2006 -- was "okay. That's about all I can say. Nothing great. Had a few shots, couple putts kind of kept me together. Nothing special, that's for sure.''
Duval pointed to a couple of key putts that kept his round together -- a 12-footer for birdie at the 18th and a 20-footer for par at the seventh. And, while he's encouraged, he knows this course too well to think tomorrow morning's early tee time will lead to a lower round.
"Here you can't ever get ahead of yourself because it's real quick to make a 6 or 7 then when you do,'' he said. "So I'll do what I did today, and I'll hit it and hopefully it will go straight. Sometimes it won't, and then I'll go hit it again.
". . . I try not to get too ahead of myself because I know I'm playing well. If anything this year, I've hurt myself by pressing too much and forcing it too much. So I'm doing the best I can not to do that.''
The former world No. 1 has been on a comeback trail for years now and doesn't have to walk far to hear fans tell him how much they want to see him win again.
"I see it most every week,'' he said. "I have a very true, dear fans, that's for sure. I've been very blessed that way. And I certainly know it week‑in and week‑out where I play there seem to be a lot of folks pulling for me.''
With that, he went to hang out with the kids, to see how many more sharks teeth 6-year-old Brady found and see what the evening plans were. The golf could wait.