Appleby Wins Australian Open

By Sports NetworkNovember 25, 2001, 5:00 pm
Stuart Appleby captured the Australian Open Sunday, firing a final-round 65 to win by three shots over Scott Laycock at The Grand Golf Club on Australia's Gold Coast. The victory was Appleby's second Down Under and his fifth worldwide.
 
'That that was hard work is an understatement,' said Appleby, who started the day tied atop the leaderboard with Laycock at 7-under. 'I knew Scotty was going to push me all the way, he was swinging it so smooth, and we were really fighting it hard.'
 
Still knotted with Appleby after seven holes, Laycock failed to get up and down out of a bunker at the par-3 eighth and fell one shot off the pace.
 
After the pair finished an amazing four-hole run that saw them match birdies on the ninth through the 12th, Laycock sank a 12-foot birdie putt at the 14th to draw even to Appleby at 12-under-par.
 
Appleby, meanwhile, managed to walk off No. 14 with a share of the lead after rolling in a 10-footer to save par.
 
But Laycock found bunker trouble again at the 15th, then blasted out to four feet and lipped out his par putt. He went on to bogey No. 16 as well, this time missing a six-footer for par to drop to minus-10.
 
Appleby moved three strokes ahead by making his six-foot birdie at the 16th. He hit the green in two at the par-5 17th and two-putted for his eighth birdie of the day, pushing four shots clear at 14-under.
 
Although a missed fairway and a bunkered approach at the 18th led to a closing bogey, the 30-year-old Aussie finished on top with a winning total of 13-under-par 271.
 
'To have Scotty stall at the end was fortunate on my behalf, I really thought it was going to go down to the last hole,' Appleby said. 'It was nerve-wracking all day. I was taking deep breaths from hole one.'
 
Four shots behind Laycock heading into Saturday's third round, Appleby charged into contention with a bogey-free 67 in difficult, windy conditions that had the rest of the field just trying to hang on.
 
His Sunday 65 was the best of the day and equaled the course record at The Grand.
 
Appleby has posted three victories on the PGA Tour in the U.S. - the 1997 Honda Classic, '98 Kemper Open and '99 Shell Houston Open. His first win on his home circuit came at the 1998 Coolum Classic.
 
Laycock, a regular in Japan and on the Asian PGA Tour the last few years, shot a 3-under 68 for sole possession of second place at 274.
 
Ernie Els, the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 4 in the world, made eight pars and a bogey on the front nine Sunday but played the inward half in 31 for a 67 and third place at 8-under 276. His back-side surge included three birdies and an eagle at the 17th.
 
Rod Pampling finished fourth at 6-under and Peter Lonard took fifth place at minus-four. They each had 67s.
 
Geoff Ogilvy, just one shot off the lead at the turn, staggered home with a 40 that featured a double bogey and a triple bogey. He carded an even-par 71 to tie for sixth with Brett Rumford at 3-under par.
 
American Charles Howell III tied for ninth at one-under, one stroke ahead of Adam Scott. Denmark's Thomas Bjorn finished at 2-over, while Robert Allenby, the winner of last week's Australian PGA Championship, finished alongside amateurs Chris Campbell and James Nitties at 3-over.
 
Full-Field Scores From the Holden Australian Open
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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.