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Duval vs. Woods in Made-for-TV Event

May 10, 1999

David Duval and Tiger Woods have spent the past two months denying a rivalry. An 18-hole exhibition between them on prime-time television probably won’t change their minds.

``It doesn’t determine the best players,″ Duval said Monday during a conference call to announce the ``Showdown at Sherwood,″ which ABC Sports will televise live Aug. 2 at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

``It doesn’t heat up whatever rivalry there might be because it’s a one-day match,″ he said. ``It’s not the U.S. Open or the Masters, it’s not Sunday when you go head-to-head. It’s a great way to gain more exposure to the game through what might be nontraditional golf fans.″

Woods, No. 1 in the world for 41 consecutive weeks until Duval unseated him after The Players Championship, compared the exhibition to challenge matches once played between Arnold Palmer and Gary Player.

``It’s a chance where David and I can compete head-to-head, beat each other’s brains out, walk away and say it was great for the game of golf,″ Woods said.

The purse will be $1.5 million, with $1.1 million going to the winner. Each player will donate $100,000 to The First Tee program, and an additional $100,000 to the charity of their choice.

ABC Sports president Howard Katz said the match, which will be shown from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. EDT, will preempt summer reruns.

``We think it will surpass what we normally get in that time period,″ Katz said. ``It’s not the British Open. We’re not going to prove who the world’s greatest player is. We want to entertain people.″

What could help an otherwise made-for-TV event are the players. Woods gave golf a huge lift when he became the first player of color to win the Masters in 1997, and did so with such an astonishing, record-breaking performance that he became the top icon in golf.

But he has won only twice on tour since July 1997, and Duval has risen to the top of the rankings with equally dominant play. Not only did Duval shoot the first Sunday 59 in tour history to win the Bob Hope Classic, he became the first player in 25 years to win four times before the Masters.

Still, a much-anticipated Sunday showdown between them didn’t materialize at Augusta National and has never happened in their careers.

Unless that happens in the U.S. Open or British Open or any other event between now and August, fans will have to settle for a manufactured event with only pride at stake.

``To be able to play against the world No. 1, David Duval, is not only a fabulous treat for myself but for anyone watching the tournament,″ Woods said.

Duval said he had reservations about playing the match, fearful that it would draw too much attention to them and not enough on the game.

``I thought he and I could expose the game to a broader audience,″ Duval said. ``ABC came in and has given us the platform.″

While the PGA Tour cannot endorse the exhibition, it has agreed to give the players the television release they need.

``The popularity of David Duval and Tiger Woods and their recent competition for the No. 1 position has set up this contest as a very compelling viewing opportunity,″ said Henry Hughes, senior vice president chief of operations for the PGA Tour.

While Duval has been more successful the past two years, he does not have the ratings strength of Woods, which helped the PGA Tour negotiate a 40 percent increase in its new television contract.

Duval isn’t even sure how many nongolf fans know who he is.

``I think Tiger is obviously a very critical piece of this puzzle,″ Duval said. ``He has obviously drawn in a much broader audience than I conceivably ever well. He’s had a lot of burdens to carry. To win as often as he has with all the outside issues is a wonderful achievement.

``I might be a golf star, but I think Tiger is a star,″ he said. ``He transcends the game.″

Both players are hoping their exhibition will do that, too.

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