Could David Duval actually be good again?

You've seen that headline before. Hell, I've written that headline before. It has been a long, long, loong time since David Duval was a part of anything conclusive. He competed last year at the U.S. Open, but couldn't pull it out. He has thrown together a good score here or there, or a stretch of holes that had us thinking, but nothing short of a tease similar to a long kiss with an ex before you part ways for another long stretch.

On Thursday at Spyglass Hill, Duval was back at it ... teasing us, putting his lips to ours, and the question is, will he be around in the morning or will be he running away from us again? Six birdies, an 18th hole bogey was what it took to card 67, a score that Duval admitted to Jim Gray after his round as something he expects to do.

"I expect to do this. I'm hitting the ball well enough to do that, I'm controlling it, I'm doing everything good to really good, and so I'm expecting a lot of myself again."

The questions fire out quicker than Duval's very confident answer. Is there any chance he can keep this up? Even if he can, will his back? He admitted to Gray after his round that his back was so sore this week he almost had to pull out of Pebble Beach. That means that at any point this week, or weekend, Duval might have to leave early not because of his play, but because of his physicality.

Maybe Duval will never win again. Maybe the man that co-owns the course record at Pebble Beach (a 62 in 1997) just lost it, similar to the likes of Ian Baker-Finch and Seve Ballesteros. Maybe Friday, David will struggle to a 75 or a 76 like he posted after an opening 68 at the Northern Trust this year, and he will fade back once more.

But somewhere, inside that dome of his, is a four-time All-American, a world number one, and a British Open champion. Somewhere, there is the recipe for success that most of the other guys on the course have never even sniffed. Maybe, just maybe, Duval could become relevant during the same stretch that his most intense competitor, Tiger Woods, is becoming not.

It probably won't happen, but it sure is fun to wonder.

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