Appleby begins new chapter with low round at AT&T

By Rex HoggardFebruary 7, 2014, 2:33 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – The 42-year-old father of three did what his instincts dictated – wait patiently.

Stuart Appleby had just birdied his second hole of the day – the 11th at Monterey Peninsula Country Club – when the weather horn sent players, caddies and fans scrambling for cover.

After weeks of drought, and a solid few years of fair weather for the PGA Tour’s northern California stop, Crosby weather returned for the opening round of this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

For nearly three hours Appleby waited out the tempest without a hint of anxiety or anxiousness.

AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Articles, videos and photos

That’s what more than two decades of Tour experience and a burgeoning family does to a man.

“It was fine, really. It was just a solid day all the way around,” Appleby said of his opening 65 that left him two strokes out of the lead held by rookie Andrew Loupe.

In its simplest terms, Appleby’s calm in the middle of Thursday’s storm comes honestly.

Once a perennial contender, the Australian is three years removed from his last Tour victory and hasn’t advanced to the Tour Championship, the ultimate litmus test for top players, since 2008.

Nagging injuries led to swing flaws that can at least partially explain Appleby’s malaise, but when he was asked to assess the last few years the easiest answer is life.

For all the right reasons, Appleby has been distracted by his growing family in recent years with three children under 8 years old.

“They definitely play a role. Your emotional energy changes a little bit towards your family. Your attention, your focus, your time. Sometimes that’s a struggle,” he said. “You have more family commitments, which I really purely love, as you get older. You focus all your time on your family.”

As his children have aged, however, Appleby’s focus and time have returned to golf. He refined his swing during this offseason and adjusted his putting stroke to more of a “downward hit,” which might explain his ability to navigate the normally bumpy coastal greens.

He rolled in a 20 footer for birdie on the 11th before the delay and followed that with a 15 footer at the 14th hole when play resumed. His bogey-free round was his lowest start on Tour since a 65 at the 2012 Canadian Open.

In fact, his 6 under card was his best ever at the Clambake, an event he once jettisoned from his schedule because of the habitually bad weather and five-hour-plus rounds.

But he returned to the Monterey Peninsula in 2010 and hasn’t missed the Pro-Am since, a nod to his growing maturity and an appreciation for the golf – if not the views.

“If it’s not raining everyday here it’s a good tournament,” Appleby said. “I normally avoided the amateur format a bit like the plague. But I’ve grown up a bit, matured a bit.”

If Appleby needs a blueprint to follow as he reinvents himself he should look no further than Steve Stricker, who didn’t find his way on Tour until he was well into his 40s and earned a spot on last year’s Presidents Cup team playing a limited schedule.

“Look at Steve, he’s won massively in his 40s. Really his whole career has been in his 40s,” he said. “He wants to spend more time with his family now. (But) I love playing out here, I want to compete, I want to play.”

After nine Tour victories and more than $22.5 million in career earnings, it would be easy for Appleby to go quietly through the next few years on his way to the Champions Tour.

But that doesn’t appear to be on the agenda.

After being understandably distracted by quality of life concerns the last few years, Appleby has been reinvigorated by the call of competition.

Following a long, wet day, Appleby was asked what motivates the middle aged, and for a moment he appeared to channel his 20-year-old self.

“The chase, the hunt, the elusive almost at your fingertips next level of golf that’s just at arm’s reach,” Appleby said. “It feels like it is always there, that next rung on the ladder to pull yourself up. Golf gives you so many opportunities like no other sport.”

For Appleby, it turns out the ultimate career mulligan is a mind unclouded by life’s concerns and the clarity of thought to win again.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm
Getty Images

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.