Duke averaged 288.5 yards Thursday. He consistently was behind his playing partners. Nick Watney, age 32, averaged 311 yards, and Billy Horschel, 26, averaged 308.
“I don’t hit it as far as some of these guys,” Duke said. “You’ve really got to hit it long and high here on this golf course.”
Still, Duke’s even-par score was his best in five rounds at Congressional in this event. He was relaxed, even during a poor start.
He bogeyed two of the first five holes, a span that included a 21-foot par save on No. 11. That didn’t deter him from walking along the ropes to converse with an old friend in the gallery.
“He’s a great guy, one of the best guys out on tour,” Horschel said. “For him to get that victory, you saw how much it meant to him. At the age of 44, who knows how many more chances at victory he has? Hopefully he does have a lot more, but obviously when you get up there in age, it does become a lot tougher.”
That’s why Sunday was so sweet for Ray. At least there won’t be so much tension when he walks the course with his son from now on.
“I don’t know that words can describe it,” Ray said. “It’s very gratifying to him to be able to win because even though you’re on the tour, if you haven’t won, mentally you really think, ‘I’m still not really a big part of that.’ But now that he’s won and all the players come up and shake hands and high five, aw, it’s just a confidence builder.”