Notes Appleby Big Bopper Return to Kapalua

By Associated PressJanuary 8, 2006, 5:00 pm
04 Mercedes ChampionshipsKAPALUA, Hawaii -- Stuart Appleby hit the longest drive at the Mercedes Championships, a 426-yard tee shot that nearly went through the par-4 12th green.
 
No one should be surprised -- the wind was at his back, the final 150 yards are downhill and the grain of the grass feeds toward the green.
 
And no one should be surprised that it came from Appleby.
 
He has been ranked among the top 10 in driving distance only once in his 10 years on the PGA Tour, that coming in 2000 when he was eighth. A year ago, Appleby was 19th in distance and averaged 300.6 yards.
 
But one only had to look at the Presidents Cup, where Appleby often ripped it past his partner, Vijay Singh, and one of his opponents, Tiger Woods. And he overpowered Kapalua when he won last year.
 
So why doesn't his name roll off the tongue when talking about the big hitters on the PGA Tour?
 
Appleby is not among those who prefer to bash it and play a shorter shot to the green out of the rough. He likes to control his tee shot, even if that means giving up some length.
 
'I was a pretty long hitter when I was younger,' Appleby said. 'I was pretty wild, too. I had to learn to control the ball a bit more. Then last year, I decided to open up a bit more and I gained a good climb in distance. My length has grown due to some confidence in my swing, and some trusting. Once you get that, you can open it up a bit.'
 
Sure enough, he did give up some accuracy.
 
Appleby was 155th in driving accuracy last year. In 2004, he was 42nd in distance and 125th in accuracy. Then again, it is rare when a power hitter also ranks highly in distance.
 
'It's not likely there's going to be an amazingly straight driver that hits it a mile,' Appleby said. '(Greg) Norman in his day was probably the straightest and the longest. That's the best combination.'
 
RETURN TO KAPALUA:
The season-opening Mercedes Championships has been played at Kapalua since 1999. When the 28 winners arrived for this year's event, however, the future of the tournament was unclear .
 
Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Retief Goosen staying home did not help negotiations.
 
But during a gala dinner Friday night that featured Glenn Frey and Joe Walsh, tournament officials said they had reached an agreement with the PGA Tour to return to Kapalua for four to six years.
 
The tour is completing talks with TV partners, although one scenario is the new deal would be six years, not four. Meanwhile, negotiations continue with title sponsor Mercedes.
 
BART DOES AUGUSTA:
Bart Bryant had knee surgery to clean out some cartilage two days after winning the Tour Championship. He couldn't playing golf for a month, and then only sparingly.
 
But that didn't keep him from a trip to Augusta National.
 
The 43-year-old Bryant is eligible for the Masters for the first time in his career, and he brought a friend to play with a member the second week of December.
 
'I played about four or five holes each day, then just sat in the cart,' Bryant said. 'I putted on some of the greens, got to see the golf course and get a feel for what it's like.'
 
Bryant realizes it won't be the same Augusta National he sees in April. It was cold, the grass was in the process of its winter overseeding, and it was empty.
 
'It was neat just to drive down Magnolia Lane,' he said. 'You've seen it on TV. It was neat to walk out of the back of the clubhouse, you see 18, you see 9, across down the hill at No. 8 fairway. I'll remember just seeing that panoramic view. That will stick me. When I get there for the Masters, it's going to look totally different because you're going to have people and tents.'
 
Obviously, he's a newcomer to the Masters.
 
It's the only major that doesn't have corporate tents.
 
CHECKMATE:
Michael Campbell must have had dinner on his mind when using chess terms to discuss his strategy for the final round of the Mercedes Championships, where he trailed Stuart Appleby by two shots.
 
'I'm just going to pace myself, see what happens,' he said. 'Like a game of chess. Leave my prawns out first, my bishops and the queen can go out there later and go in for the attack.'
 
Prawns?
 
'Sorry, pawns,' he said with a laugh. 'Prawns on the barbie, mate.'
 
AN UPHILL WALK SPOILED:
For the last seven years, players have been given a ride in a cart from the fourth tee up a steep hill to the fourth fairway.
 
The reason given by the tour was to help pace of play, although the field rarely has more than 34 players, and this year has only 14 twosomes. And it was peculiar that the tour allowed the carts in 2000, the year the PGA Tour appealed the Casey Martin decision to the Supreme Court.
 
Martin successfully sued the tour to use a cart because of degenerative disease in his right leg.
 
On Friday, Brad Faxon hit his tee shot and kept walking, declining an offer to ride in the cart. This from a man coming off surgery to repair ligaments in his right knee.
 
'It's stupid,' Faxon said as he climbed the hill. 'We should be walking.'
 
Related links:
  • Leaderboard - Mercedes Championships
  • TV Airtimes

  • Full Coverage - Mercedes Championship

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    Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

    If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''