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Duval seeks sports psychologist's help

The Bob Rotella think tank will be open for business this weekend. And longtime client David Duval plans to take another plunge.

Duval, the 2001 British Open champion who struggled with a difficult 2002 season, will meet with Rotella on Saturday and Sunday in Keswick, Va., where the noted sports psychologist lives. They've worked together since Duval was in college.

''He's very important to me and what I'm trying to do,'' says Duval, 31. ''I enjoy working with him. It's a comfort thing and very beneficial.''

Typically, Duval doesn't do much with Rotella in November and December. But Duval wants to get back to basics and get a fresh start. He'll focus on things that made him successful.

They'll talk for hours at Rotella's house, where Duval will stay. They'll work on mental and mechanical things. Duval will hit balls at Glenmore Country Club, weather permitting. And they'll put together a game plan for 2003.

''We're talking about being in the greatest state of mind and mood every time you step on a golf course, letting nothing faze you,'' Rotella says. ''Getting into that bubble on the first tee that's close to being in a trancelike state.''

Beset by distractions, including injuries and a breakup with fiancee Julie McArthur at the end of 2001, Duval slipped to 80th on the 2002 money list at $838,045. It ended a streak of seven consecutive years among the top 11.

''My mind was on other things,'' Duval says. ''I wasn't as focused as I have been in the past, as evidenced by how I played, my standing on the money list and lack of victories.''

The Duval-Rotella relationship isn't unique on the Tour. Rotella works with others, including Davis Love III, Brad Faxon, Billy Mayfair and Padraig Harrington.

Rotella estimates that 40 of the top 50 players employ sports psychologists.

Duval plans to launch his season at the Jan. 23-26 Phoenix Open. Rotella will be there, too.

''I'm excited that David feels the passion for getting back on top,'' Rotella says. ''We'll be unbelievably committed and patient until everything falls into place for him.''

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