Notes Aussies second home No Zach attack

By Associated PressAugust 2, 2008, 4:00 pm
WGC-Bridgestone - 125wAKRON, Ohio ' His passport says he was born in Australia and he lives in Florida but northeastern Ohio has become almost a second home for Stuart Appleby.
 
That goes beyond how comfortable he feels playing in the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, just a few rescue-club shots from the city limits sign.
 
The 37-year-old Applebys wife, Ashley, is from nearby Canton. They met at the 2000 Bridgestone and now have daughters Ella and Mia and another child ' this one a boy ' due in late October.
 
So even though his voice is straight out of Crocodile Dundee, the Aussie farm boy feels right at home in Americas Rust Belt.
 
Ive been here for so many years now Ive sort of got a rhythm to this place, he said Saturday after shooting a 3-under 67 that left him at 7-under 203 and a shot back of co-leaders Lee Westwood, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh. Probably a lot more demand for tickets. Yeah, Im comfortable, familiar. Its good to be here.
 
Appleby has two top 10s at Firestone and has won more than $700,000 at the Bridgestone and its predecessor, the NEC Invitational.
 
He said a half a dozen family members followed him around the course.
 
Now hes on the cusp of his first PGA TOUR win since the Shell Houston Open two years ago ' and is reassured because he feels as if hes almost at home.
 
Its a good golf course, and obviously for family reasons its great for them, so Im very pleased, he said.
 
A STEP BACK
 
After rounds of 67 and 68, which led him to believe that he had reversed a recent slump, former Masters champion Zach Johnson dropped back with a 2-over 72 Saturday at the Bridgestone.
 
Johnson isnt a long hitter and, at 7,400 yards, Firestone Country Club is a long course. The slightest misfire off the tee can lead to trouble.
 
Its one of those things that if I dont get the ball in the fairway here its hard for me to score, he said. Im not exactly the best of rough players and when I have longer clubs and irons out of the rough into these greens, its very, very difficult. That was frustrating.
 
The last two years at the Bridgestone, Johnson has faltered after playing well through 36 holes.
 
Im really disappointed. It seems like Ive done that a lot here ' put myself in position going into the weekend three or four times already now, he said.
 
At 3-under 207 and just five shots behind the leaders, he remains hopeful.
 
A good round tomorrow, you never know what might happen, he said.
 
TRYING TOO HARD
 
Darren Clarke may have had a revelation in matching the low round of the day and the tournament with his 5-under 65 in Saturdays third round of the Bridgestone.
 
All summer long Ive pushed and pushed and pushed and tried too hard and practiced too hard and worked too hard, Clarke said after matching Hidemasa Hoshinos 65. Ive wanted to play too well too much, whereas now Im (trying to) just play and enjoy it and see what that brings.
 
Relaxing obviously pays dividends. Clarke started the second round tied for 35th and now finds himself in a logjam for sixth, four shots off the lead heading into the final round.
 
It could have been even better. Clarke failed to get up and down after missing the green short and left on the par-4 closing hole and had to settle for a bogey.
 
A win in Akron would be nothing new for Clarke ' he won at Firestone in 2003 and was third two years before that. Since hes 25th on the European Ryder Cup team points list, he needs to do exceptionally well in the final round and in the near future to harbor even a remote chance of making the team outright or as a captains pick.
 
I need to come out here, playing this week and next week (the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills), and those two weeks at home (the Dutch Open and Johnnie Walker Classic) I have to play well if I even want to be considered, he said. If I do start playing well like I did today, I think I would be an addition to the team. If I dont play well, I would not be. I would not expect a pick. I just want to play as well as I can and see where it takes me.
 
YOU NOT THE MAN
 
Dont count Appleby as one of the people who finds Get in the hole! the height of enlightened comment by gallery members.
 
That really drives me crazy because thats something that should only happen over here, at least ' no more than that, he said. When you hear an Englishman or an Irishman yell out Get in the hole! I think golf has gone too far.
 
DIVOTS
 
The deadlock at the top was the first three-way tie through 54 holes for a World Golf Championship event. Only three European Tour members (Clarke, Ernie Els, Henrik Stenson) have won WGC events. Singh has led through three rounds 30 previous times on the PGA TOUR and has won 17 times. In the Bridgestones nine years, a player has come off the lead in the final round to win the tournament on three occasions. Each time, that player was Tiger Woods, in 2001 and each of the past two years.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard
  • Full Coverage
  • GOLF CHANNEL Airtimes
  • Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

    The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

    The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

    In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

    Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

    Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

    Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

    By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

    Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

    RISING

    Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

    Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

    Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

    Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

    Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


    FALLING

    J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

    Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

    Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

    DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

    LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

    Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

    Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

    In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

    "Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

    Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

    "The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

    The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

    "Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

    Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

    Class of 2011: The groups before The Group

    By Mercer BaggsNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

    We’ve been grouping things since the beginning, as in The Beginning, when God said this is heaven and this is earth, and you’re fish and you’re fowl.

    God probably wasn’t concerned with marketing strategies at the time and how #beastsoftheearth would look with a hashtag, but humans have evolved into such thinking (or not evolved, depending on your thinking).

    We now have all manner of items lumped into the cute, the catchy and the kitschy. Anything that will capture our attention before the next thing quickly wrests said attention away.

    Modern focus, in a group sense in the golf world, is on the Class of 2011. This isn’t an arbitrary assembly of players based on world ranking or current form. It’s not a Big Pick A Number.

    There’s an actual tie that binds as it takes a specific distinction to be part of the club. It’s a group of 20-somethings who graduated from high school in the aforementioned year, many who have a PGA Tour card, a handful of who have PGA Tour wins, and a couple of who have major titles.

    It’s a deep and talented collective, one for which our knowledge should continue to expand as resumes grow.

    Do any “classes” in golf history compare? Well, it’s not like we’ve long been lumping successful players together based on when they completed their primary education. But there are other notable groups of players, based primarily on birthdate, relative competition and accomplishment.

    Here’s a few on both the men’s and women’s side:

    BORN IN 1912

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Feb. 4, 1912 Byron Nelson 52 5
    May 27, 1912 Sam Snead 82 7
    Aug. 13, 1912 Ben Hogan 64 9

    Born six months within one another. Only a threesome, but a Hall of Fame trio that combined for 198 PGA Tour wins and 21 majors.


    BORN IN 1949

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Sept. 4, 1949 Tom Watson 39 8
    Dec. 5, 1949 Lanny Wadkins 21 1
    Dec. 9, 1949 Tom Kite 19 1

    Only 96 days separate these three Hall of Fame players. Extend the reach into March of 1950 and you'll get two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North.


    BORN IN 1955

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Jan. 30, 1955 Curtis Strange 17 2
    Jan. 30, 1955 Payne Stewart 11 3
    Feb. 10, 1955 Greg Norman 20 2

    Another trio of Hall of Fame players. Strange and Stewart were born on the same day with Norman 11 days later. Fellow PGA Tour winners born in 1955: Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts.


    WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1956-57

    Birthdate Player LPGA wins Major wins
    Feb. 22, 1956 Amy Alcott 29 5
    Oct. 14, 1956 Beth Daniel 33 1
    Oct. 27, 1956 Patty Sheehan 35 6
    Jan. 6, 1957 Nancy Lopez 48 3

    A little arbitrary here, but go with it. Four Hall of Famers on the women's side, all born within one year of each other. That's an average (!) career of 36 tour wins and nearly four majors.


    EUROPE'S BIG 5

    Birthdate Player Euro (PGA Tour) wins Major wins
    April 9, 1957 Seve Ballesteros 50 (9) 5
    July 18, 1957 Nick Faldo 30 (9) 6
    Aug. 27, 1957 Bernhard Langer 42 (3) 2
    Feb. 9, 1958 Sandy Lyle 18 (6) 2
    March 2, 1958 Ian Woosnam 29 (2) 1

    The best 'class' of players Europe has to offer. Five born within a year of one another. Five Hall of Fame members. Five who transformed and globalized European golf.


    WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1969-70

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Sept. 12, 1969 Angel Cabrera 3 2
    Oct. 17, 1969 Ernie Els 19 4
    May 12, 1970 Jim Furyk 17 1
    May 12, 1970 Mike Weir 8 1
    June 16, 1970 Phil Mickelson 42 5

    Not a tight-knit group, but a little more global bonding in accordance to the PGA Tour's increased international reach. Add in worldwide wins – in excess of 200 combined – and this group is even more impressive.


    BORN IN 1980

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Jan. 9, 1980 Sergio Garcia 10 1
    July 16, 1980 Adam Scott 13 1
    July 30, 1980 Justin Rose 8 1

    Could be three future Hall of Fame members here.

    Editor's note: Golf Channel's editorial research unit contributed.