After his Open Championship win, Duval entered a downward spiral in form that saw him drop to 80th on the money list in 2002, and 211th in 2003, prompting an extended break from the game. Numerous reasons have been postulated for the decline, including back, wrist, and shoulder problems; private difficulties; and a form of vertigo.
Many commentators believed Duval's career to be over, but he returned to golf in 2004 at the U.S. Open, where he shot 25 over par and missed the cut. Duval has struggled since his return with his highest results a T-13 at the 2004 Deutsche Bank Championship and a T-16 at the 2006 U.S. Open. He made the cut in only one PGA Tour event in 2005, but did finish in the top ten at the Dunlop Phoenix tournament in Japan. While Duval at his peak was viewed as aloof and distant and was not a fan favorite, now galleries sympathize with his plight and root for him to overcome his issues and to enjoy playing golf.
Duval had a successful start to the 2006 PGA Tour season, making the cut in his first two tournaments, as well as a very respectable finish of T-16 at the U.S. Open Championship at Winged Foot Golf Club, where his second round 68 was good enough for a tie as the best round of the tournament. Despite not reaching the same heights in the remaining two majors of the year, his performances continued a general upward trend, with none of the rounds of 80+ that had become so familiar in the previous years. Duval is currently taking time off from golf to help his wife during her pregnancy.