David Duval finds success again with family at his side

By Edgar Thompson
Published on
David Duval finds success again with family at his side

Nick Karavites was 9 years old during the fall of 2003 when he first met golfer David Duval, his mom's new boyfriend.

A former world No. 1 and British Open champion, Duval did not need any introduction.

"I probably asked him a million questions," Karavites recalled Sunday. "I was a golf fan before I met him. I mean, David Duval, right? It was crazy."

More important to Susie Persichitte was how Duval immediately took to Karavites, one of her three children from a previous marriage.

"They sat together on the floor the first day they met and that was it -- best friends," she said.

BEST OF 2016: Ryder Cup Moments | PGA Champ. Moments | #PGA365

On Sunday at the PNC Father/Son Challenge, Duval and Karavites formed a winning combination again. Duval and his 23-year-old stepson carded a 10-under 62 for a 123 total during the 36-hole, 20-team scramble at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club.

The duo held off three teams by one stroke: 2013 Father/Son winners Stewart and Connor Cink, newcomers Retief and Leo Goosen, and Fred and Taylor Funk. Duval and Karavites earned $200,000 for the win.

"They played off each other. If one didn't do great, the other one hit a perfect shot," Susie Persichitte Duval said. "If you could play this kind of golf all the time, it wouldn't be so bad -- the team, best ball."

Duval is happy for a win however, wherever, whenever.

The victory is the 45-year-old's first since the 2001 Dunlop Phoenix Tournament in Japan. A few months earlier, Duval won the 2001 Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes -- his sole major championship and last of his 13 PGA Tour wins.

RELATED: Duval, stepson win Father/Son Challenge

By the time Duval met Persichitte two years later in a Denver restaurant, he was mired in the slump caused by injuries and a crisis of confidence. Duval's tumble from the top of the game is one of the most dramatic in the game's history and made Sunday's win special.

"This is as good as anything," Duval said. "It truly is."

Duval reached world No. 1 following his win at the 1999 Players Championship, unseating Tiger Woods. Woods re-assumed the top spot 14 weeks later, but Duval supplanted him for a week before falling out the top spot again -- never to return.

Duval instead found happiness and contentment off the course with his new family.

Duval was 32 when he met Persichitte and a year later the two were married. In 2005, Duval and his wife had a son, Brayden, and a daughter, Sienna, was born in 2008.

Most of the clan made its way from frigid Denver to blustery Orlando. Brayden carried Karavites' bag at the Father/Son while Deano Karavites carried his stepfather's clubs.

"We are thick as thieves," Duval said. "Those are my kids; those are the brothers and sisters. We are a perfectly blended, blessed family that you could ever ask for."

Duval and Karavites found a perfect balance during the Father/Son, their fourth together and first since 2013.

Duval would like to think it is the beginning of something bigger for his playing career, but he also is realistic.

The Jacksonville native has found a niche as an analyst on Golf Channel and is No. 1691 in the Official World Golf Rankings. Duval played three events in 2016, missing the cut at two of them and withdrawing from the British Open in July, a few months after he had elbow surgery.

But for two days, Duval and Karavites were the best in a field headed by 13 World Golf Hall of Famers and a half-dozen major champions. If that is the extent of Sunday's win, Duval will take it.

"This is what the progression of life is," he said. "Things change. To be able to come out and compete in a professional event and win and have the whole family here, I'll never forget it."

This article is written by Edgar Thompson from The Orlando Sentinel and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network.