AKRON, Ohio – About the only thing that comes easily for David Duval these days is the ability to find perspective.
Duval was talking late Monday night about the "gigantic financial hit" he has taken from the real estate collapse, the solution he worked out with the bank over money owed on his home in the Denver suburb of Cherry Hills Village, and the strain it has caused during another tough year on the golf course.
He wanted to make clear that his house, which he has been trying to sell for several years, is not in foreclosure. He did not want to explain negotiations with the bank in detail because those talks are private. He also wanted to point out that he was among thousands, if not millions, who made real estate investments that turned sour during the crash.
His outlook was not unusual. Duval never considered himself different from anyone else, in good times or bad.
The high was when he reached No. 1 in the world and was the toughest rival Tiger Woods ever had. Everyone has a success story. The low point came at age 9, when he went through a painful bone marrow donation in a futile attempt to keep his brother, Brent, from dying of aplastic anemia. Harsh times, no doubt, but as he looked back on such a dark period in his life, he reasoned that his was not the only family coping with tragedy.
Where did he develop this perspective?
The question triggered memories Duval had not thought about for longer than he can remember.
"A few things entered my mind, and they had to do with people I met when Brent was in the hospital," he said. "I think back to when I was there with Brent and somebody tried to mug me in the play room. I was 9 years old. I had $12 in my pocket. And he had me pinned up against the wall choking me. ... It's weird. I haven't thought about that in probably 20 years."
The significance of the story?
"I think it's about self-preservation," Duval said. "That's when I dealt with Brent and my family and the things we were going through. That's when I learned a lot about what shaped who I am. We were just down in a game room playing pool with another kid, having fun, and then the dynamic changed. And I was like, 'No, you can't do this. I'm not allowing you to do this to me.'
"And by the way," he added, "he didn't get my money."
That story was about $12.
Now it's about a mansion that TMZ reported was worth just over $12 million when Duval bought it in 2005.
Maybe that's the good news for Duval. He's still relevant enough to get the attention of a celebrity website. He was more irritated about a local television station that he said broadcast the story without every trying to contact him.
"I don't think of myself as a public figure, and I guess this makes me realize I still am," he said.
He has not been getting much attention for his golf. His last win was the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan at the end of 2001. The last time he contended was two years ago in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, when Dustin Johnson made birdie on the last hole for a one-shot victory. He has made only two cuts in 15 tournaments this year, and his best round is a 69. He has done that twice.
Some of that is related to injuries, which have plagued him over the last decade. He revealed at the British Open that he had bone bruises in his knee, so painful that he planned to take a walking seat to the Reno-Tahoe Open so he could sit down between shots if necessary.
More of it likely is due to the stress of financial problems at home.
"It's been a very big distraction," Duval said. "I have the weight of this on me."
His wife, Susie, likes to be on the road with him and their children — Brayden and Sienna, along with three children from her previous marriage. She has been dealing with the bank and the home, and hasn't gone to a tournament with Duval since New Orleans the last week in April. That was the last time Duval made the cut.
"This kind of thing can break us or hold us together, and we're tighter than ever," Duval said. "We're more in love than ever. It's a hugely stressful time, especially when information is out there that's inaccurate. She's been an angel. I think she's the greatest thing ever. She's my hero. I tell her that every day."
These would not seem to be the best of times.
After Reno, Duval is playing in two weeks in Greensboro, N.C., and then will have a month off before getting into whatever Fall Series events he can with hopes of finding something in his game, or at least making a few putts to get him pointed in the right direction.
He and his family have moved out of his home and found another place they are renting. The kids are still in the same school district. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, though Duval would not say how bright it was.
"We have taken a gigantic financial hit through real estate problems," he said. "We've been severely hurt — like a lot of people. I imagine there's a thousand people in Denver that are hurt just as bad, but it's not reported on. That's the public figure thing. We have diligently engaged the bank for months. We have a resolution. They're happy with it, we're happy with it. And we're moving forward."
Perspective, as always, is easy to find.
As he spoke on the phone, he said his son was watching the Olympics. His daughter had fallen asleep in her mother's lap. They were healthy and happy in a city devastated by the deaths from a gunman at a movie theater about 15 minutes from where they live.
"My niece went to a memorial today for one of the victims," he said. "Deano, he's been to that theater 30 times. My little girl is asleep. I'm going to wake up tomorrow and go to Reno and play some great golf. I couldn't be happier."