PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. --- Minus golf's two biggest stars, the best are headed to the high desert of Arizona. Equally intriguing is what happens south of the border with David Duval, a player who has not been among the best for more than a decade.
The next few weeks could determine whether that can change.
Moments after his runner-up finish at Pebble Beach, Duval climbed into a van with his wife and four of their children as they left one beach resort for another. Next up is the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico, a chance to build on a performance only he saw coming.
It had been more than eight years since Duval shot in the 60s every round of a PGA Tour event. And while this is not the first time he emerged out of nowhere to tie for second -- remember the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black nine months ago? -- there was something different about Pebble Beach.
Duval opened with 67 at Spyglass Hill, a course that used to give him fits even in the best of times. Asked if it was the first time he had broken 70 there, Duval responded in a text message, "Yes sir. Big things coming."
For the rest of the week, his name stayed on the leaderboard.
And for the first time since 2001 -- the year of his last win -- his name was atop the leaderboard as the final group came to the 18th hole of a tournament. That changed when Dustin Johnson made birdie from the bunker for a one-shot victory, joining an elite list of back-to-back winners at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Duval finished more than a half-hour ahead of Johnson and had his own chance at birdie. His wedge came up a few paces short of staying on the tiny shelf, instead rolling down the ridge to the bottom of the green some 30 feet away.
"Any time you're standing on the last hole with a chance to maybe get in the playoff or win a golf tournament, you have to look at it as a successful, competitive week -- period," he said.
The trick now is to keep going.
Perhaps because he had fallen so far, so much was made of Duval's tie for second in the U.S. Open. Instead of building on that performance, he took the next two weeks off. In his final eight tournaments, Duval made only one cut and failed to keep his card when he finished 130th on the money list.
At Bethpage Black, it was a matter of making several long putts to keep from sliding down the leaderboard. At Pebble Beach, it was more about the way he hit the ball so consistently over four days. Most putts at Pebble Beach, especially when the conditions are soft and bumpy in February, are almost made by accident.
"I got more satisfaction today out of hitting the golf shots through the course of 18 holes and controlling my golf ball in ... somewhat difficult conditions," Duval said.
He closed with 69, one of only seven scores in the 60s in the final round when the pins were tucked, the ocean breeze was stiff and players no longer could lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.
Duval earned $545,600 and has essentially the rest of the year to build on a good week.
He is playing primarily on sponsors' exemptions this year, and while they should be readily available for a player who once was No. 1 in the world, Duval does not take them for granted.