Appleby Back in the Drivers Seat

By Sports NetworkJanuary 6, 2006, 5:00 pm
04 Mercedes ChampionshipsKAPALUA, Hawaii -- Stuart Appleby, the two-time defending champion, posted a 1-under 72 on Friday to grab a one-shot lead after two rounds of the season-opening Mercedes Championships. Appleby completed 36 holes at 3-under-par 143.
 
Stuart Appleby
Stuart Appleby is trying to win his third straight event at Kapalua.
A pair of U.S. Open champions -- Michael Campbell and Jim Furyk -- each posted their second straight rounds of 1-under 72 to share second place at 2-under-par 144. They were joined there by 2001 PGA champion David Toms (73) and 2000 Masters champion Vijay Singh (74).
 
First-round leader Olin Browne (76) and 2002 champion Sergio Garcia (74) shared sixth place at minus-1 on the Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort.
 
This event is reserved for PGA Tour winners from the 2005 season. Four of those winners -- Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Retief Goosen and Padraig Harrington -- qualified, but elected to skip the week.
 
Like Thursday, players faced high winds on Friday. Winds gusted well over 30 m.p.h., which pushed scores well over par. The field compiled an average score of 75.51, the highest single round average for this tournament since it moved to Kapalua.
 
'I hit driver down No. 9. I didn't have the best lie and I didn't have maybe the best swing at it, but I hit it pretty good. I hit it like 150 yards and that was a 2-iron,' said Appleby about the strong winds. 'Sometimes you're just guessing how many clubs you think you need to add to the shot versus the yardage. That's really what it is, guessing the right amount of wind and hoping that you pull it off. It's not a science when it gets like that out there.'
 
Browne was never able to get anything going. After a birdie on the par-5 fifth, he bogeyed four of the next five holes to drop off the pace. He played the final eight holes at even par with two birdies and two bogeys.
 
Appleby, who had never previously led this event after the second round, was steady over his opening nine holes. He tripped to a bogey on the second to slip to minus-1, but settled in with seven straight pars to remain there.
 
The Australian collected a birdie on the par-4 10th to grab a share of the lead at minus-2. Appleby parred his next three holes and then sank a 15-foot birdie putt at the 14th to grab a one-shot lead.
 
Appleby stretched that lead to two strokes as his pitch to the par-5 15th rolled within 2 feet of the cup to set up a birdie that moved him to 4 under.
 
At the last, Appleby's drive found a hazard to the left of the fairway. After a drop, his third shot came up short and right of the green. He chipped to about 12 feet, but two-putted for bogey and his lead dropped to one.
 
'I like the wind. Australia is a pretty windy place, but certainly nothing like this,' said Appleby. 'I haven't seen the weekend forecast, but I'd say if anyone got to double figures (under par) that would be excellent golf.'
 
Campbell opened with four pars, then dropped two shots in his next three holes to tumble to plus-1. He got those strokes back with birdies on nine and 11.
 
The New Zealander sank an 8-foot birdie putt on the 15th and got to 3 under with a birdie at 17. However, he also bogeyed the last to end at minus-2.
 
Furyk dropped shots on the second and seventh to fall to plus-1. He picked up birdies on eight, 12 and 14 to get within two of Appleby.
 
'Its a tough wind, but at Kapalua and here in Hawaii you're going to see a lot of strong winds. I wouldn't call it a normal day, but its not out of the ordinary,' Furyk said. 'I didn't have a lot of putts that went in today, but overall it was a good solid day and hopefully they'll go in on the weekend.'
 
Toms bogeyed each of his first two holes, before getting a shot back at the fourth. He faltered to another bogey on the ninth. Around the turn, Toms collected consecutive birdies from the 14th to finish at minus-2.
 
Singh was 3 over on his opening nine with a double bogey on the fifth and a bogey on No. 8. The world's No. 2 player birdied the 15th and 18th to get back within two of Appleby.
 
Jason Bohn carded the low round of the day as he shot a 3-under 70, which included four birdies over his final five holes. He stands at even-par 146 and shares eighth place with Bart Bryant (72) and Wes Short (73).
 
Mark Calcavecchia, Lucas Glover, Geoff Ogilvy and Vaughn Taylor are one stroke further back at plus-1.
 
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    Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

    Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

    Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

    Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

    McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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    Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

    By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

    Memo to the golf gods:

    If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

    Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

    It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

    With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

    It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

    We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

    We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

    Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


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    Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

    We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

    In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

    While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

    Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

    Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

    Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

    While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

    Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

    So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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    McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

    By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

    With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

    The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

    Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

    "I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

    McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

    But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

    "I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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    What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

    Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

    Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

    Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

    Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

    Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

    Ball: Titleist Pro V1x