Appleby Roars Back to Defend Mercedes Title

By Sports NetworkJanuary 9, 2005, 5:00 pm
04 Mercedes ChampionshipsKAPALUA, Hawaii -- Stuart Appleby shot a 6-under 67 on Sunday to win the season-opening Mercedes Championships for the second straight year. Appleby finished the event at 21-under-par 271 on the Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort for a one-shot victory over Jonathan Kaye.
Tiger Woods carded a 68 to join Ernie Els in a tie for third at 19-under-par 273. Vijay Singh, Adam Scott and Stewart Cink were one shot further back at 18-under-par 274.
Appleby was four strokes behind Singh to start the final round and moved his way up the leaderboard with a strong front nine. Appleby, who edged Singh to win this event last year, picked up his first birdie of the day at the par-4 third and reached 17 under with a birdie at the par-5 fifth.
The Australian drilled a perfect tee shot at the reachable par-4 sixth and watched as his ball rolled onto the front of the green, coming to rest 14 feet from the hole. Appleby converted the eagle try to go to minus-19.
While his challengers were struggling on the inward half of the saturated course that experienced a four-hour delay at the beginning of the day, Appleby was steady in the wind and drained a 15-foot putt for a birdie at the par-4 12th.
Appleby then parred his next four holes before running in a long birdie putt at the par-4 17th to secure his sixth career victory on the PGA Tour and a return trip to Kapalua next season.
Kaye matched Singh early with a birdie at the third but gave that stroke back with a bogey at the fifth. He holed out for an eagle at the par-5 ninth, however, to stay in the mix and took the outright lead with a birdie at the very next hole.
The 34-year-old stumbled to a bogey at the par-4 12th to fall back to 20 under and was unable to make a move down the stretch en route to the runner-up finish.
'It's a good way to start the year,' said Kaye. 'Obviously finishing second isn't too bad.'
Woods, whose lone tour victory in 2004 came at the WGC-Match Play Championship, found trouble early with a bogey at the par-4 third. He answered strongly, however, with three consecutive birdies starting at the par-5 fifth to move to 16 under.
He added a birdie at the 12th and rolled in an 8-foot putt for a birdie at the par-5 15th. Woods then birdied the closing hole to join Els in a tie for third.
'If I can just get the putter rolling a little bit more than I did obviously this week, the ball-striking is there,' said Woods. 'I'm really excited the way I was able to control my ball all week.'
Els, who shot a 71, was cruising along over the closing holes until an errant tee shot par-5 18th resulted in a late bogey.
Singh, who was in control of the tournament throughout the week, managed a triple-bogey at the par-4 13th and was never able to recover. The top-ranked player in the world countered with a birdie at the 14th for a round of 74.
David Toms and Vaughn Taylor shared eighth place at 16-under-par 276. Sergio Garcia and Craig Parry were seven shots off the pace at 14-under-par 278.
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.