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Dustin Johnson is back at Kapalua for the sixth straight year. Matt Kuchar is playing for the fifth time. Jordan Spieth is here for the first time, and with his talent, figures to be back plenty. Duke is not the kind of player who looks at this event as just another week on the schedule.

“We were trying to think the other night of all these guys who win every year,” Duke said, shaking his head. “It’s like Augusta. You get a piece of it, you want to come back here. That’s something I’m going to work hard on the next couple of years. I want to get back here.”

He has not forgotten what he went through to get here.

When he was voted PGA Tour player of the month after his win in Hartford, he donated the $50,000 award to the Stephens Spine Institute in Arkansas, this after writing a personal check for $25,000 to the charities of the Travelers Championship after he won.

He goes with his doctor, Richard McCarthy, a few times a year to meet with children who are about to have back surgery, and Duke’s manager arranges for four or five hospital visits a year so Duke can meet with kids and help alleviate their concerns.

“When I was 10 to 15, I would have loved to have someone to talk to,” he said. “You’re getting ready to go to major surgery, getting rods and pins. I was scared to death. Back then, Mom and Dad said this is what you’re supposed to do, and you’ve got to do it.”

Trying to make it on tour was daunting, too. There were times in the late 1990s when Duke had to borrow money just to pay the rent, but he always seemed to pick up some cash on some mini-tour to get by.

His big break came after he won the Nationwide Tour money list in 2006 and he ran into swing coach Bob Toski.

“I used to hook the ball,” he said. “I was open in my stance, but I would aim to the right and hook everything. He said, `Why are you doing that?’ I said, `Nobody told me any different.’ The reason I remain open is because I have scoliosis. I can’t aim square because it gets me to push everything to the right. That’s just the way I learned to play. He just took the way my back was, and the way I had to play, and he kind of taught me from there.”

Toski had him swing more to the left to play a fade, and to Duke it seemed like every shot was going straight. He’s not long off the tee, but he’s accurate. He doesn’t take the club back very far because his back won’t let him.

But he makes it work, and it has worked quite nicely. Duke is a PGA Tour winner, and he’s in good company this week.