Niskayuna

David Duval wins Charity Skins Game

David Duval tees off the first hole at Mohawk Golf Club in Tuesday’s Charity Skins Game.

David Duval tees off the first hole at Mohawk Golf Club in Tuesday’s Charity Skins Game.

NISKAYUNA —– Former No. 1 player in the world David Duval made more of his share of sensational shots during his highly decorated PGA Tour career. Even though Tuesday’s Charity Skins Game for the benefit of the Schenectady Boys and Girls Clubs wasn’t loaded with the kind of pressure he used to battle every week, he still gave the estimated 1,100 fans at Mohawk Golf Club quite a treat.

Duval, the son of Schenectady native and former Champions Tour member Bob Duval and the grandson of the late Stanford Golf Club head pro Hap Duval, was slightly blocked from the green by some trees, but still carved his approach shot to within 6 feet and then made the birdie putt on the 18th hole to walk away with the skins title.

“It was a good shot, and a little bit lucky,” said Duval, referring to a fortunate bounce toward the cup, “I hit it where I was trying to hit it, and it happened to work out. That’s what I was trying to do.”

Competing against Darren Clarke, the former Open champion who also won this year’s Senior Open crown recently; three-time PGA Tour tournament winner Chris DiMarco, Fred Funk and Blaine McCallister, Duval won three skins worth $17,500. DiMarco won $5,500, McCallister earned $5,000, Clarke won $3,500 and Funk was shut out.

A skin is the prize for shooting the low score on a hole in match play. If no player gets the lowest score by himself, the skin is carried over to the next hole. Prize money per skin escalated as the match went on.

No player won a skin on the first three holes, despite DiMarco and Clarke scoring birdies on the par-5 third hole. Duval won the fourth hole and the carry-over skins worth $2,500 with a birdie. Clarke birdied the seventh hole for another carry-over skin, and then McCallister rolled in a 27-foot birdie on the 10th hole, another three-hole carry-over, for his only skin of the day worth $5,500.

Duval’s conceded 2-foot birdie on the 14th hole was another four-hole carry-over skin. DiMarco collected his only skin of the day with a 25-footer worth $5,000 on the 16th hole.

Duval, who appeared in the original Capital District Ellis Hospital Skins Game at Albany Country Club, said he enjoyed the experience.

“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “Obviously, I have ties to the area, but they are distant ties. I never grew up here. I was born and raised in Florida. But to run into so many people who knew my dad, my uncle [Jimmy Duval] and my grandfather was special. Everybody I talked to today had a story about Hap. It’s kind of cool.”

Duval, who once shot a 59 and captured the Open Championship, said he loved the course.

“It was spectacular,” he said. “It would be a blessing to play a course like this every day. Over the years I think as I’ve gotten older my view of golf courses has changed. Now the question is would I want to play it every day. We play championship courses, but would I want to play them every day? I would love to play here every day.”

Duval also appreciated the laid-back atmosphere of the Charity Skins Game, which is much like the Champions Tour.

“I would say the atmosphere of the Champions Tour falls between my days on the Nike Tour in the early 1990s and my first years on the PGA Tour,” Duval said. “It’s closer to the Nike Tour in terms of the camaraderie and the excitement. There is a great fan base that watches the Champions Tour because those same people have been watching us all their lives.”

Duval, 50, said he and his colleagues know what the fans want.

“Sponsors put up good money for a good cause,” he said. “They want to see us play. It’s a bit of a hit and giggle type thing, but we don’t want to screw around. We take it seriously. People come here to see us do something we’re good at.”

Duval was asked about his favorite career accomplishment after winning 13 PGA Tour titles, including the Open Championship and the Players Championship.

“I don’t know if you can distinguish between several moments that I’ve been blessed to have through my career, but certainly taking the No. 1 ranking from Tiger in his prime has got to be on top of the list,” he said.

McCallister, the mainstay of the original Capital District Skins Game that drew the likes of Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Tom Watson and many others, was the point man for putting the new Charity Skins game together.

The winner of five professional titles, McCallister is basically retired from competitive golf and spends a lot of time with his grandkids.

“I come up here twice a year now, and when [Mohawk Golf Club owner] Mike Rutherford asked me can we do it, I said yes,” McCallister explained. “It’s pretty easy to get the guys to come for this. They’re entertainers. Our careers aren’t based on what we do now. The Champions Tour is probably the most approachable with very easy going guys. We understand the circumstances. It’s about pro-ams and entertainment.”

Funk, who won eight PGA Tour titles and nine Champions Tour crowns, didn’t earn any skins, but he had a great time.

“You’ve got to make birdies in this format,” he said. “It was fun to have that many people following us like we were in the lead group. I haven’t played in front of that many people in a long time. We’re just now getting back to playing pro-ams after the COVID stuff.”

Clarke, who has 21 tournament victories worldwide, was a five-time Ryder Cup player and the European captain in 2016. He had to leave the Charity Skins Game after 10 holes because of a prior commitment. That’s why DiMarco was added to the field.

According to tournament director Joel Slutsky, the Charity Skins Game raised $250,000 for the Schenectady Boys and Girls Clubs.

“We are very pleased,” he said.

Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected].

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