Originally created 07/17/02

Duval: Tiger Woods is smarter than his competition



GULLANE, Scotland -- Defending British Open champion David Duval believes he knows Tiger Woods' secret: He's smarter than everybody else he plays.

"I think that there are other players as talented," Duval said Tuesday. "I think that he is as mechanically sound as anybody. I think he works as hard as anybody. And I think he tends to outthink a lot of people and out-manage his game, out-manage other players. ...

"I think the difference lies in that he has managed to do it virtually every week he plays where other players have not been able to do that. The difference lies in a mental approach. He waits for people to make mistakes and he manages not to."

Duval has been making mistakes galore. He has only one top-10 finish all season and has missed cuts in four of his last five events.

"I lost a little bit of focus," said Duval, who claims the victory a year ago at Royal Lytham "sidetracked" him.

He said winning the British Open was much, much bigger than he imagined.

"I don't believe I quite understood the impact it had until I got to some other places outside the United States and realized ... that if there is a world Open, that this is it. And I'm a very lucky man to have won my first over here."

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TIGER'S PROBABILITY: According to a University of Buffalo expert, Tiger Woods has a 13 percent chance of completing the Grand Slam this year.

"But if he doesn't make it this year, there is a 30 percent chance he'll eventually achieve a Grand Slam over the next 20 years, based on his success rate in past major championships," said Christopher M. Rump, an assistant professor of industrial engineering.

A sports fan, Rump's real work involves creating operational systems for traffic, telecommunications and computers. He points out that Woods has won 36 percent of the majors he's entered in his career.

"If Tiger continues to win at that rate, his chances in any given year of achieving the Grand Slam are 1.75 percent or 56-to-1 odds," Rump said. "Of course now that he's halfway there, the chances increase to 13 percent that it will happen this year."

Using a statistical model invented by a Russian mathematician to predict outcomes, Rump also figures that Woods has a 60 percent chance of completing another "Tiger Slam" - four consecutive major victories spanning two seasons - if he continues at his current pace over the next 80 majors.

"Jack Nicklaus won the Masters when he was 46, so it's not inconceivable that Tiger's still winning majors 20 years from now," Rump said.

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THE ODDS: London bookmaker William Hill has Tiger Woods at 13-8 to win this year's British Open - and 4-1 to complete the Grand Slam this year.

Following Woods, the betting looks like this: 14-1, Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson; 18-1, Sergio Garcia; 28-1, Padraig Harrington and Davis Love; 33-1, David Duval and Retief Goosen; 40-1, Darren Clarke, Justin Leonard, Colin Montgomerie, Nick Price, Vijay Singh and David Toms; 50-1, Michael Campbell, Nick Faldo and Justin Rose; 66-1, Jim Furyk, Tom Lehman and Robert Allenby.

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SHORTER: This year's British Open at Muirfield is almost 200 yards shorter than the U.S. Open in June at Bethpage (7,034 vs. 7,214). Despite that, it's a par 71 instead of a 70.

Two-time U.S. Open champion Ernie Els figures the shorter layout will have more players in the mix on Sunday.

"I think this is a lot wider open than the U. S. Open," Els said. "If it's dead calm, 24-under could win here because you don't need a driver. There are a bunch of holes that are difficult into the wind, but you've got a lot of very short par-4s downwind where you have a lot more opportunities for birdies than you ever had at Bethpage.

"At Bethpage there were almost no birdie holes, it seemed like."