Appleby Grabs Share of Aussie Open Lead

By Sports NetworkNovember 24, 2001, 5:00 pm
Stuart Appleby shot the day's best round of 4-under 67 to join Scott Laycock atop the leaderboard after Saturday's windy third round of the Australian Open. The Aussie duo finished at 7-under-par 206, three shots ahead of South Africa's Ernie Els.
 
Els, the fourth-ranked golfer in the world, carded a 2-over 73 in difficult conditions at The Grand Golf Club, where only eight of the 60 players in the field broke par Saturday and just five were under par after 54 holes.
 
'My start didn't help,' said Els, who had two of his four bogeys on the front nine. 'I didn't quite hit my iron shots the way I wanted to, and then when you start missing you've got to get it up and down and I felt like I had to do that all day.'
 
The two-time U.S. Open champion hit only half the fairways and 12 of 18 greens in round three. He also stroked 32 putts, six more than he needed over each of the first two days.
 
Els did finish on an up note, however, sinking a 10-foot birdie putt at the 17th hole before parring the last to finish alone in third place.
 
Geoff Ogilvy (74) was solo fourth at 3-under-par while Rod Pampling (75) finished alone in fifth place at minus-two.
 
Appleby managed to negotiate the tricky winds in bogey-free fashion, posting birdies at the fourth, 10th, 13th and 17th to earn a share of the top spot.
 
'You can get hit pretty hard here, I was pretty nervous all day,' said Appleby, who missed the cut at last week's Australian PGA Championship. 'To win here would be a great way to end the year, but the year's not ended yet. I've got one more round to go.'
 
Laycock, the overnight leader at 7-under, couldn't budge off that number after an even-par 71. He did push three shots clear of the field with birdies on the first and fourth holes but fell back to the pack after bogeying the ninth and 11th.
 
'It's one of the hardest rounds I've played,' he said.
 
Ogilvy was just one shot off Laycock's pace through two rounds but experienced a nightmare start Saturday with three bogeys, a double and a triple after 10 holes, dropping him to 2-over-par.
 
He battled back by picking up five strokes over the final seven holes, closing with a 30-foot eagle putt at the 17th and a 20-footer for birdie at No. 18.
 
Pampling, also one back at the start, was able to hold steady with 10 straight pars but suffered four bogeys in the way in.
 
Denmark's Thomas Bjorn rebounded from an opening 76 with rounds of 67-70 on Friday and Saturday. He was tied for sixth place at even-par 213 with Brett Rumford, Peter Lonard and amateur James Nitties.
 
Greg Chalmers, the winner of the 1998 Australian Open, rounded out the top 10 with Adam Scott and New Zealand's Richard Lee at 1-over par.
 
Full-Field Scores From the Holden Australian Open
Getty Images

McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

Getty Images

Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

Getty Images

Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

Getty Images

Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.