Appleby steals the show at home Down Under

By Doug FergusonNovember 14, 2010, 10:56 am

JBWare Masters

MELBOURNE, Australia – Stuart Appleby received hardly any fanfare at the Australian Masters until he slipped on the gold jacket that a year ago belonged to Tiger Woods.

He wasn’t among the five faces on promotional posters around Melbourne, nor was he invited to the gala dinner. And even though none of the others had more wins this year – and none had ever shot a 59 to win a PGA Tour event – that was fine with him.

“I noticed it, but it was not even close to annoying me,” Appleby said Sunday after closing with a 6-under 65 for a one-shot victory. “I have an ego, no doubt about it. But it wasn’t like, ‘Oh, they haven’t got me up there?’ It’s the Tiger Woods show, and the others. You know what? It didn’t play out that way.”

The only entertainment value from Woods came in his final hour, when he made two eagles over the final four holes and shot 65 to match his best score of the year. He still ended a full year without winning, as he finished in fourth place as the defending champion.

“I didn’t play good enough,” Woods said. “I didn’t make enough putts. That’s what happens.”

Appleby was as golden as the winner’s jacket he wore.

He rallied from a seven-shot deficit in the final round, stayed in the game by making a 30-foot par putt on the 16th, pulled ahead with a 25-foot birdie on the 17th and two-putted for birdie on the final hole.

Adam Bland, who had a three-shot lead going into the final round, was the last one with a chance to catch him. Bland hit 6-iron to 10 feet on the par-5 18th, but missed the eagle putt that would have forced a playoff.

Appleby already had reason to celebrate this year, winning The Greenbrier Classic with a 59 on the last day. This might have been even sweeter. It has been nine years since he won on home soil, dating to the 2001 Australian Open.

It wasn’t from a lack of effort, or attention.

“We play around the world for big money and big tournaments and big fancy ratings and everything like that,” he said. “But you come home to Australia, and it’s real. That’s probably hurt me too many times, really wanting to win.”

Not many would have given him much of a chance going into the final round seven shots behind. With four birdies on the front nine, he got back into the game, then holed the two long putts to finally win the third leg of the Australian Slam. He previously won the Australian PGA and the Australian Open.

Appleby finished at 10-under 274 and won for the 12th time worldwide.

About his only mistake was nearly missing the trophy presentation. Coming out of the bathroom, he saw what looked to be the closing ceremony on a big video screen, then heard his name announced as the winner and sprinted under the grandstands and onto the 18th green. Another big gallery – the Sunday attendance approached 18,000 – stuck around to watch him.

Appleby thanked them, realizing that they weren’t all there to watch him.

Woods was not quite the same character they saw a year ago at Kingston Heath, when record crowds topped 100,000 for the four rounds and the world’s No. 1 player – at the time, anyway – delivered a memorable performance with a wire-to-wire win.

That was his 82nd victory around the world. It remains his last.

Twelve days later, Woods was in a car accident outside his Florida home and soon after came revelations of extramarital affairs. He sat out for nearly months, struggled through the year with his game, was divorced from his wife and is still piecing his game together with a brand new swing.

It remains a work in progress. He didn’t show up on the leaderboard at Victoria Golf Club until the final hour.

The culprit all week was putting, and Woods replaced his reliable Scotty Cameron putter with a Nike Method version, which he uses at home in practice. It was the second time this year he swapped out putters, also doing it for three rounds at the British Open. Both times, he attributed the switch to slow greens. It wasn’t terribly effective either time.

Woods missed two par putts inside 4 feet on the front nine and fell as many as 12 shots behind. He played the final six holes in 6 under, highlighted by the eagle putts on the par-4 15th and a 15-footer on the par-5 18th that brought the only fist pump of the week.

“It would have been nice if I had gotten off to that start,” Woods said.

He finished three shots back at 7-under 277, the closest he has been to the winner all year. He also was three behind Graeme McDowell at Pebble Beach in the U.S. Open.

Woods now gets two weeks at home – including Thanksgiving, where his troubles all began – before finishing out the year in California for his Chevron World Challenge.

“I can do this in streaks,” he said of his final six holes, and referring to his Ryder Cup singles match when he played the last seven holes in 7 under par. “Unfortunately, I haven’t done this for an entire round. It takes time. The streaks are now lasting longer. I still need to do it for an entire round. Obviously, I didn’t do it for 72 holes.”

Appleby finished his amazing day by signing dozens of flags, along with a couple of posters that featured Woods, Geoff Ogilvy, Robert Allenby, Sergio Garcia and Camilo Villegas.

“They could have put, ‘Mr. 59’ in capital letters down the bottom,” Appleby joked. “I don’t need a picture.”

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Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.

Full-field scores from the Joburg Open

Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Sharma among three Open qualifiers at Joburg Open

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:16 pm

Shubhankar Sharma earned his first career European Tour win at the rain-delayed Joburg Open and punched his ticket to The Open in the process.

Sharma returned to Randpark Golf Club Monday morning after storms washed out much of the scheduled final day of play. Beginning the re-start with a four-shot lead, he hung on to win by three over South Africa's Erik Van Rooyen.

Both men can make travel plans for Carnoustie next summer, as this was the second event in the Open Qualifying Series with three spots available for players not otherwise exempt who finished inside the top 10. The final spot went to Shaun Norris, who tied for third with Finland's Tapio Pulkkanen but had a higher world ranking (No. 192) than Pulkkanen (No. 197) entering the week.

The Joburg Open was the final official European Tour event of the year. The next tournament in the Open Qualifying Series will be the SMBC Singapore Open in January, where four spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 6, Dustin Johnson

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:00 pm

Only Dustin Johnson could win four times in 2017 and it still feels as though he underachieved.

That’s unfair, perhaps, but it’s a testament to Johnson’s awesome ability – and his incredible run of form last spring – that observers can’t help but shake the feeling that his year could have been even better.

In February, he rose to the top of the world rankings for the first time, the culmination of a long, bizarre journey in which he often battled himself (through major blunders and, reportedly, drug-related suspensions) as much as his peers. Johnson’s blowout victory at Riviera was his first of three consecutive titles (including two WGCs), as he achieved Tiger-like levels of dominance and rolled into the Masters as the prohibitive favorite.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Expectations for this star-crossed talent are always different, and so the surprise wasn’t that he blew that major but that he didn’t even give himself a chance. In one of the biggest stunners of the year, Johnson’s manager announced on the eve of the first round that his client had suffered a back injury while slipping on a set of stairs in his rental house. Just like that, the year’s first major was thrown into chaos, with Johnson unable to play – the line of demarcation in his good-but-not-great year.

Though he added a playoff victory at the end of the season, Johnson failed to factor in any of the remaining three majors and was surprisingly inconsistent, perhaps because of swing compensations after the injury.

Would DJ have denied Sergio Garcia a green jacket? Would he have created even more separation at the top of the world rankings? Would he have defended his Player of the Year title? Unfortunately, we’ll never know.

In typical DJ fashion, he left us to ponder what could have been.

Johnson becomes world No. 1, starts season with three straight wins

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DJ on reaching No. 1: 'It's been a long journey'

View from the top: How long will DJ stay at No. 1?

Article: DJ's star once again shines brightest at WGC-Mexico

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DJ breaks it down: How No. 1 won WGC-Mexico

Video: DJ withstands Rahm's rally to win WGC-Match Play final

DJ on beating Rahm: 'I didn't give him anything'

Johnson: 'I definitely didn't play my best today'

Johnson enters Masters as odds-on favorite, withdraws after falling down stairs

Article: After uneasy warmup, DJ withdraws from Masters

Article: Johnson installed as Masters betting favorite

Article: DJ injures back in fall, hopes to play Masters

DJ on Masters WD: 'Want to play ... it sucks'

DJ: 'I was playing the best golf of my career'

DJ welcomes second child with fiancée Paulina Gretzky

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It's a(nother) boy! DJ-Paulina's gender reveal

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Watch: Paulina shows off pretty swing at TopGolf

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DJ beats Spieth in playoff to earn fourth win of year

Burr: 'For a great win there is an epic collapse'