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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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry