Appleby shoots 59 to win Greenbrier Classic

By Associated PressAugust 2, 2010, 5:18 pm

Greenbrier Classic

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. – Stuart Appleby understands the scrutiny that might come with shooting a 59 on a par-70 course.

The Australian won the Greenbrier Classic on Sunday and became the fifth PGA Tour player to hit golf’s magic number. His milestone came less than a month after Paul Goydos had a 59 at the John Deere Classic.

Appleby was the first to reach 59 on a par-70 course; Goydos’ course was par 71. The three other 59s were on par 72s: Al Geiberger at the 1977 Memphis Classic, Chip Beck at the 1991 Las Vegas Invitational and David Duval at the 1999 Bob Hope Classic.

“Look, I’ll debate it with you. I agree,” Appleby said. “I can see both sides of the fence. It is a number. I shot that number. But who says par is supposed to be 72? There’s a lot of great courses that aren’t 72.”

Golfers had raved about an Old White course that already yielded J.B. Holmes’ 60 and D.A. Points’ 61 on Saturday, and Jeff Overton’s 62 on Friday.

Stuart Appleby
Stuart Appleby poses with his first PGA Tour trophy since 2006. (Getty Images)
Appleby was Points’ playing partner in the third round. On Sunday, it was Appleby’s turn – and he could sense something different.

“I felt relaxed today,” he said. “I walked a bit slower than I normally do. I’m a pacey sort of person. Not in playing, the golf sense, but from an energy point of view. Today, I felt much more – I slowed myself down and just, yeah, it was pretty comfortable.”

The 59 broke the course record of 60 set by Sam Snead in 1950 and matched by Holmes. Appleby said Snead should be given more credit because of the equipment used 60 years ago.

“I think I would have to shoot a 56 to even compare to something like that, for sure,” Appleby said.

Making just one bogey all week, Appleby birdied the final three holes, then watched third-round leader Overton’s long birdie try on the par-3 18th slide just past the cup to give Appleby a one-stroke victory.

Appleby’s 11-under round put him at 22 under. Overton, playing three groups behind Appleby, shot 67 to finish at 21 under.

In remaining winless in five years on the Tour, Overton had 34 putts in the final round, three-putting three times.

“I played great, hit a lot of great shots,” he said. “You can’t win golf tournaments when you putt it that bad.”

The news wasn’t all sour for Overton. His third runner-up finish of the year moved him from 10th to fourth in the points table that will determine eight automatic spots for this year’s U.S. Ryder Cup team – Tiger Woods fell from seventh to ninth.

Appleby, who earned the $1.08 million winner’s check, easily beat his previous career low of 62 in the 2003 Las Vegas Invitational.

The end of a four-year winless drought came during Appleby’s 11th straight week of tournament play. And he isn’t done yet – he plays the Bridgestone Invitational starting Thursday in Akron, Ohio.

“I’m not getting any younger,” the 39-year-old Aussie said. “I want to be a yearly holder of a trophy for sure. It’s not easy. Four years. I should be getting older, wilier and more experienced and that’s maybe how I’ll use some of that timeline … to make sure I don’t ever have a break like this again.”

Appleby’s switch earlier this year from a conventional putting grip to a left-hand low approach finally paid off.

“I was a little tired of the way I had been putting conventional,” he said.



Stuart Appleby

He made some long putts with the new grip at the Tavistock Cup exhibition matches in Orlando, Fla.

“I’m like, ‘man, that speed was beautiful,” he said. “The transition, I’ve never done anything quite like that, so (it’s) a bit out of the blue for me.”

Appleby trailed Overton by seven strokes to start his round, shot 6-under 28 on the front nine and eagled the par-5 12th before settling for three straight pars.

He got his momentum going again just in time with birdies of 15, 10 and 11 feet on the final three holes.

“I knew what it was all about,” Appleby said of his birdie on 18. “I knew I had to make it – I knew I had to make it for the tournament, I knew I had to make it to have a 59. I’m sitting there going ‘how many opportunities are you going to get to do this?’

“The cards had been laying out perfectly for me all day. Why wasn’t I going to do one more? I just got a good look at it and just – bang – it felt good.”

Brendon de Jonge (65) finished third at 17 under. Tied at 15 under were Points (70), Woody Austin (63), Paul Stankowski (64), Roger Tambellini (65) and Jimmy Walker (67).

Jim Furyk, who was among seven golfers tied at 14 under, improved from fifth to third in the FedEx Cup points standings. Ernie Els and Steve Stricker remained 1-2. Overton moved up six spots to sixth and Appleby jumped from 82nd to 24th.

Getty Images

McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in four months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014. 

Getty Images

Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

Getty Images

Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

Getty Images

DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."