"I had a good season going into the Greenbrier," he said. "Never been there before, heard so much about it. My wife and I will come back there, and we're so excited about it."
Perhaps his battle with scoliosis contributed to his patience through the ups and downs of his golf career. He was diagnosed as a seventh-grader; two years later, he had surgery to correct a 51 percent curvature of his spine.
Surgeons attached a 16-inch metal rod to facilitate strengthening and he returned to his golf team only months later. Playing in a back brace, he adapted his swing well enough to win medalist honors at a district tournament.
"I just learned a certain way because of that," Duke said. "It's just part of the way I swing."
In 2009, he hooked up with legendary swing coach Bob Toski - in fact, he lists his biggest thrill as playing a round at Augusta National with Toski, then 82.
With an altered swing, he ebbed but has rebounded well enough to win his first event, thus adding a dose of excitement for Greenbrier Classic officials. Duke reports receiving a few text messages from White Sulphur Springs.
And a few hundred others.
"It was just a great relief to get it off my shoulders, at my age," he said.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.