Duval snubs Valderrama to go fishing

The world number two, David Duval, has decided to go fishing and hunting in Idaho this week rather than play the American Express World Championship at Valderrama.

The world number two, David Duval, has decided to go fishing and hunting in Idaho this week rather than play the American Express World Championship at Valderrama.

The £3m tournament, one of three introduced this season to bring the golf's top players together more often, is also likely to be without Duval's fellow Americans Mark O'Meara, Fred Couples and Steve Stricker and Australian Greg Norman.

Missing as well could be Japan's world No 22 Jumbo Ozaki - but that would be no surprise. The 52-year-old, who rarely travels outside his home country, did not play in the first of the world championships in California in February and did not qualify for the other in Ohio in August after turning down last year's President's Cup.

Duval's hopes of winning the US money list this season were effectively wiped out last night in Houston when world number one Tiger Woods, the player he was trying to catch, moved into a three-stroke lead at the Tour Championship while he fell eight strokes behind.

Speaking of his plans for next week Duval told reporters: "I will do a little fishing and probably a little hunting and I will work out.

"The Ryder Cup took what little I had left out of me and I want to get focused and ready for next year. I want to try to have a better run at the majors."

Duval took over from Woods as number one with a spectacular start to the year, winning four times before the Masters and including in that run a closing 59 at the Bob Hope Classic.

But he has not won since and in the majors managed only sixth at Augusta, seventh at the US Open, 62nd at the Open and 10th at the US PGA Championship.

Woods, meanwhile, has won six times and in Texas had the chance to take his earnings for 1999 to a record five million dollars.

Colin Montgomerie had heard that Woods himself was not planning to fly to Spain next week - Valderrama was the course on which he tasted Ryder Cup defeat two years ago - but US Tour spokesman Lee Patterson confirmed yesterday that the 23-year-old was playing.

The tournament, which will decide the European Order of Merit, is restricted to the world's top 50 and the leading money-winners this year in America, Europe, Japan, Australasia and Southern Africa.

Any players pulling out will not be replaced. The field just becomes smaller.

Montgomerie said of the withdrawals after finishing the Volvo Masters in Jerez today: "I can understand it.

"David Duval has had a tough year and he can't catch Tiger, so it's one of those things. This tournament happens to be in Spain after a long year and I think if it had been in the United States you would have had a different view.

"The second prize next week is worth less than it is in the Tour Championship, so why come to Spain for it? It proves how strong the US Tour is."

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