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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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

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    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

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    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

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