Duval willing to go back to minors

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WORKING VACATION: Most players head to Augusta National in the weeks before the Masters. Brandt Snedeker is planning ahead. He’s going to Merion.

Snedeker said he has a friend who is a member at Merion and has been trying to line up a golf trip for some time, so this seemed like a good year with Merion hosting the U.S. Open for the first time since 1981.

“I’ve just got a trip with some guys, going up there and play, just a way to get up and see the golf course so I’m not shocked when I get to the U.S. Open,” Snedeker said. “Merion is not a bomber’s paradise. I think they are set up for guys like me who dink it around and keep it in play and don’t do anything stupid.”

The plan is to go at the end of March, but it’s possible Snedeker might wait until after the Masters. He’ll also get in a round at Pine Valley while in the neighborhood.

“We set it up as a way to go up there and have some fun, and also a way for me to get some work done,” he said. “So it worked out great. It’s a rough trip, but somebody has got to do it.”

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PLAYERS AND THEIR PUTTERS: Steve Stricker tried a new putter at the World Challenge last month and said he liked it. But when he arrived at Kapalua, he had the same Odyssey putter he’s been using for years. Even the metal tape on the bottom looks old.

The same can’t be said of so many other players, some of whom switch putters once a month. Hunter Mahan might not fit into that category, but his story from last year shows how long of a shelf life a winning putter gets.

He switched to a different putter at the Accenture Match Play Championship, beating Rory McIlroy in the final match. And that putter stayed in the bag the rest of the year, right?

“No,” Mahan said. “I went to a shorter putter for Houston … and then won in Houston. So it’s kind of funny. I switched putters twice last year _ before Match Play and won, and then switched putters before Houston and won.”

The lesson here?

“I guess it’s not the putter,” he said. “I guess that’s what that tells you.”

Maybe he should consider changing putters every week, particularly at the majors.

“Believe me,” Mahan said, “that’s crossed my mind.”

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