But you won't find Duval seizing the spotlight. Instead, he has tried to stay at the edges.
At yesterday's session, Duval established an unofficial Masters record for shrugging his shoulders. Dressed in a red golf shirt with no hat, he fidgeted and smiled nervously when answering questions, which he did quietly.
``It doesn't bother me. I embrace it, yes,'' he said of the attention. ``I believe it is my responsibility. It's part of playing tournament golf. If I had to choose, would I seek it out? No. I think everybody knows I don't seek out attention. But I firmly believe it's my duty to be here and do the best I can.''
Duval has achieved the best sustained period of excellence since Nick Price captured 12 tournament championships in a three-year stretch from 1992 through 1994. Duval won his final three events in 1997 and took four more last year.
This year, he has amassed an additional four: the Mercedes Championship, the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, the Players Championship, and the BellSouth Classic. His win at the Players enabled him to pass Tiger Woods and vault to the top of the World Golf Rankings. He is a heavy favorite to make this year's Masters his first career major title.
Because Duval wears wraparound sunglasses when he plays - he has a condition that makes his eyes extremely sensitive to light - people didn't always recognize him off the course. Now they do, whether he's wearing sunglasses, eyeglasses, contact lenses, or a helmet and goggles on the ski slopes.
But a star? No way.
``I've always thought I had a pretty big responsibility anyway,'' Duval said. ``I might be in the process of becoming a golf star or whatever you want to call it, but I'm not like Tiger in the sense that Tiger's a star. He is, outside the game. I don't think that because I've surpassed him [as world No. 1] that I've been given more responsibility than he might have.
``I don't feel that way [as a star], and I don't think I ever will.''
Still, the hype around Duval is growing. He is only the third person to win four tournaments before the Masters, joining Johnny Miller (1974) and Arnold Palmer (1960). He already has established a record for most money won in a single season on the PGA Tour with nearly $2.6 million.
Because of his youth, good looks and success at an early age, Duval is being compared to NASCAR superstar Jeff Gordon for celebrity impact. That analogy made him squirm yesterday. And when someone brought up a recent story calling him the Michael Jordan of golf, Duval winced, as if someone had just kicked him in the ribs.
``No, I think that's really inappropriate, to compare me to Michael Jordan or Jeff Gordon,'' he said. ``Jeff won 11 races for three straight years or something. Michael won six NBA titles. Please, that's not right to put me next to them. That'd be a disservice to them.''
Then there is the added scrutiny from fans wondering what he is really like. He didn't give many clues yesterday, so it was left to his peers to speak.
``David is very laid-back and very funny, but quiet,'' Fred Couples said. ``He's not screaming when he tells his jokes, and he doesn't laugh at everybody's jokes. He's great to be around.''
``I think David's a very bright person,'' said Mark O'Meara, the defending Masters champion. ``He's really a good guy. He's got his priorities right. He's constantly trying to get better. Winning tournaments, all these stats - they're probably flattering to him, but he realizes he needs to keep trying to improve, so he's not resting on his laurels.''
Duval has clearly won the respect of his peers, not only because of his play but also because of his work ethic and demeanor. He is physically strong, a product of his workout and weight-lifting regimen. He is in control of his emotions, rarely allowing a bad shot to get to him.
Yesterday, his prevailing emotion was humility. He was almost embarrassed to hear about his three-year run, preferring to look at it as having won 11 of his last 120 tournaments, the exact number in which he has competed on the tour since turning pro in 1993 after an outstanding collegiate career at Georgia Tech.
As for this week, he immediately waved off a suggestion that he might be out of gas after victories in each of the last two weeks, noting: ``If you can't get worked up and ready to play here, you need to go do something else.''
Duval has good memories of last year's Masters, where he tied Fred Couples for second place, 1 stroke behind O'Meara. He believes he is ready to win a major. Come Sunday night, a green jacket could be a new part of his wardrobe.
``The majors only happen four times a year, so a lot of stuff has to come together in a given four weeks for that to happen,'' Duval said. ``I think that will happen. How quickly, I don't know.''