Luck Be a Lady Tonight

By Mike RitzOctober 13, 2003, 4:00 pm
Millions come to Las Vegas with dreams of grandeur. Few leave as winners. Stuart Appleby is one of those lucky few. The 32-year-old Australian birdied the first hole of a playoff to defeat Scott McCarron and win the Las Vegas Invitational and its first-place prize of $720,000.

This was Applebys fourth career win on the PGA Tour; but it had been four years, five months and ten days since his last victory. Its a very fine line between winning and not, Stuart said. Anyone who wins out here needs a bit of good fortune.

In the song inspired by this town, the man who owned it, Frank Sinatra, crooned: They call you lady luck. But there is room for doubt. At times you have a very un-lady-like way of running out.

Applebys good luck almost ran out on the par-3 17th hole. He arrived there with a one-stroke lead over McCarron. The hole was cut close to the left side of a green that slopes severely to an adjacent, win-killing pond. Appleby pulled his tee-shot badly and as the ball bounded along the left side of the green and then rolled down that slippery slope towards the water, Stuart said Oh, &%^#$@. Wait, let me edit that. I said Oh gee, I cant believe I hit it there.

Back to Frank: Youre on this date with me. The pickins have been lush. And yet before the evening is over, you might give the brush.
Well, incredibly, Applebys ball hung up in the very light rough and stayed dry. Stuart did make bogey and lose his lead; but if the ball had ended up in the pond, he probably never would have made it into a playoff.

You might forget your manners. You might refuse to stay. And so the best that I can do is pray.

We couldnt see where the ball ended up, said Appleby. So we asked the TV cameraman and he told us it stayed up . Ssshwewww.
Luck be a lady tonight.
Appleby finished second in both of his previous starts on Tour. And, he finished second here in Vegas last year. So, he was due. Thats all we try to do out here, is get into the hunt, Appleby said. Coming down the stretch, I just thought back to those times I won, how I did it, and I never really got nervous. His putt of 14 feet, down the hill, was nerve-less.
It has been said many times in the world of sports that the harder you work, the luckier you get. Appleby is one of the hardest workers on tour. I never doubted Id win again, he said.
Applebys winners check moves his earnings for the year to $2.47 million, putting him in the top ten on the money list and assuring him a spot in the elite, season-ending Tour Championship. The win also returns him to Hawaii to start next years season at the Mercedes Championships. I love Kapalua, he said. Now that I think of it, I didnt realize I hadnt been there for four years.
I cant wait to go, said Stuarts wife, Ashley. We are so lucky.
Luck, let a gentleman see just now nice a dame you can be.
Early this past week, before tournament play began, Appleby said he never gambles in the casinos when hes here in Vegas. I walk through the casinos and see all of those people pulling on those slot machines, chasing a dream and I just shake my head, he said. I believe Im smart enough not to gamble Hey, playing golf for a living is a big enough gamble anyway.
A week in Las Vegas comes to an end and the biggest winner in town never rolled a die, never picked up a card. But he flies away with nearly three-quarters of a million.
A lady never leaves her escort. It isnt fair, it isnt nice. A lady doesnt wander all over the room and blow on some other guys dice.
Luck be a lady tonight.
Getty Images

Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

Getty Images

DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

Getty Images

Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

Getty Images

Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.