Notes Appleby Big Bopper Return to Kapalua

By Associated PressJanuary 8, 2006, 5:00 pm
04 Mercedes ChampionshipsKAPALUA, Hawaii -- Stuart Appleby hit the longest drive at the Mercedes Championships, a 426-yard tee shot that nearly went through the par-4 12th green.
 
No one should be surprised -- the wind was at his back, the final 150 yards are downhill and the grain of the grass feeds toward the green.
 
And no one should be surprised that it came from Appleby.
 
He has been ranked among the top 10 in driving distance only once in his 10 years on the PGA Tour, that coming in 2000 when he was eighth. A year ago, Appleby was 19th in distance and averaged 300.6 yards.
 
But one only had to look at the Presidents Cup, where Appleby often ripped it past his partner, Vijay Singh, and one of his opponents, Tiger Woods. And he overpowered Kapalua when he won last year.
 
So why doesn't his name roll off the tongue when talking about the big hitters on the PGA Tour?
 
Appleby is not among those who prefer to bash it and play a shorter shot to the green out of the rough. He likes to control his tee shot, even if that means giving up some length.
 
'I was a pretty long hitter when I was younger,' Appleby said. 'I was pretty wild, too. I had to learn to control the ball a bit more. Then last year, I decided to open up a bit more and I gained a good climb in distance. My length has grown due to some confidence in my swing, and some trusting. Once you get that, you can open it up a bit.'
 
Sure enough, he did give up some accuracy.
 
Appleby was 155th in driving accuracy last year. In 2004, he was 42nd in distance and 125th in accuracy. Then again, it is rare when a power hitter also ranks highly in distance.
 
'It's not likely there's going to be an amazingly straight driver that hits it a mile,' Appleby said. '(Greg) Norman in his day was probably the straightest and the longest. That's the best combination.'
 
RETURN TO KAPALUA:
The season-opening Mercedes Championships has been played at Kapalua since 1999. When the 28 winners arrived for this year's event, however, the future of the tournament was unclear .
 
Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Retief Goosen staying home did not help negotiations.
 
But during a gala dinner Friday night that featured Glenn Frey and Joe Walsh, tournament officials said they had reached an agreement with the PGA Tour to return to Kapalua for four to six years.
 
The tour is completing talks with TV partners, although one scenario is the new deal would be six years, not four. Meanwhile, negotiations continue with title sponsor Mercedes.
 
BART DOES AUGUSTA:
Bart Bryant had knee surgery to clean out some cartilage two days after winning the Tour Championship. He couldn't playing golf for a month, and then only sparingly.
 
But that didn't keep him from a trip to Augusta National.
 
The 43-year-old Bryant is eligible for the Masters for the first time in his career, and he brought a friend to play with a member the second week of December.
 
'I played about four or five holes each day, then just sat in the cart,' Bryant said. 'I putted on some of the greens, got to see the golf course and get a feel for what it's like.'
 
Bryant realizes it won't be the same Augusta National he sees in April. It was cold, the grass was in the process of its winter overseeding, and it was empty.
 
'It was neat just to drive down Magnolia Lane,' he said. 'You've seen it on TV. It was neat to walk out of the back of the clubhouse, you see 18, you see 9, across down the hill at No. 8 fairway. I'll remember just seeing that panoramic view. That will stick me. When I get there for the Masters, it's going to look totally different because you're going to have people and tents.'
 
Obviously, he's a newcomer to the Masters.
 
It's the only major that doesn't have corporate tents.
 
CHECKMATE:
Michael Campbell must have had dinner on his mind when using chess terms to discuss his strategy for the final round of the Mercedes Championships, where he trailed Stuart Appleby by two shots.
 
'I'm just going to pace myself, see what happens,' he said. 'Like a game of chess. Leave my prawns out first, my bishops and the queen can go out there later and go in for the attack.'
 
Prawns?
 
'Sorry, pawns,' he said with a laugh. 'Prawns on the barbie, mate.'
 
AN UPHILL WALK SPOILED:
For the last seven years, players have been given a ride in a cart from the fourth tee up a steep hill to the fourth fairway.
 
The reason given by the tour was to help pace of play, although the field rarely has more than 34 players, and this year has only 14 twosomes. And it was peculiar that the tour allowed the carts in 2000, the year the PGA Tour appealed the Casey Martin decision to the Supreme Court.
 
Martin successfully sued the tour to use a cart because of degenerative disease in his right leg.
 
On Friday, Brad Faxon hit his tee shot and kept walking, declining an offer to ride in the cart. This from a man coming off surgery to repair ligaments in his right knee.
 
'It's stupid,' Faxon said as he climbed the hill. 'We should be walking.'
 
Related links:
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    Kang 'going with the flow,' one back of A. Jutanugarn

    By Associated PressOctober 18, 2018, 9:43 am

    SHANGHAI – Ariya Jutanugarn shot a 6-under 66 to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Buick LPGA Shanghai tournament on Thursday.

    The Thai player had six birdies in a bogey-free round, including three straight on Nos. 4, 5, and 6.

    ''I always have so much fun when I play in Asia,'' said Jutanugarm, who added her key was ''just not to expect anything. Just go out have fun and enjoy everything.''

    Sei Young Kim and Danielle Kang (both 67) were one shot back, with six other players only two shots off the lead.


    Full-field scores from the Buick LPGA Shanghai


    The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

    Kang credited her improved play to new coach Butch Harmon.

    ''We just kind of simplify the game a lot,'' the American said. ''Just trying to calm it down and get back to how I used to play. Just more feel golf. Thinking less mechanics and going with the flow.''

    Kang tied for third last week at the KEB Hana Bank championship in Incheon, South Korea.

    ''Today's round went very smooth,'' Kang said. ''Coming off very good momentum after last week, and I've been hitting the ball really well, playing great. I've just been trusting my game and just keep giving myself birdie chances. They kept rolling in.''

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    Sharpshooting Reavie (68) leads tough CJ Cup

    By Associated PressOctober 18, 2018, 9:34 am

    JEJU ISLAND, South Korea – Chez Reavie overcame cool, windy conditions for a 4-under 68 and a one-stroke lead after the first round of the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges on Thursday.

    In the breezy conditions, the back nine of the course posed the most difficulty, but the 36-year-old American made two birdies and negotiated it in 35 after starting on the 10th tee, and then picked up three shots on his final nine.

    Danny Willett and Si Woo Kim shot 69 while the large group at 70, and tied for fourth, included Ian PoulterNick Watney and Michael Kim.

    Brooks Koepka, playing in his first tournament since being voted PGA Tour Player of the Year, shot 71 and was in a group three strokes behind and tied for 11th, which included Paul Casey and Hideki Matsuyama.

    Jason Dufner and Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Defending champion Justin Thomas had a 73, as did Jason Day, Ernie Els and J.B. Holmes.


    Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

    CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


    Marc Leishman, who won last week's CIMB Classic in Malaysia, and Adam Scott had 75s.

    Reavie's only PGA Tour win came at the 2008 Canadian Open, and he finished second in back-to-back starts last year in Phoenix and Pebble Beach, losing at Phoenix in a playoff.

    ''It was a great day, I hit the ball really well,'' Reavie said of Thursday's round. ''The wind was blowing really hard all day long so you had to really start the ball well and keep it out of the wind. Luckily, I was able to do that.''

    Despite the windy conditions, Reavie found all 14 fairways off the tee and hit 15 out of 18 greens in regulation, which he felt was the key to a good score.

    ''It's tough because once you get above the hole with this wind, it's really hard to chip it close,'' he said. ''The more greens you can hit, the better and that was key to my game.''

    Willett, who has struggled with injuries and form since winning the 2016 Masters and has dropped to No. 342 in the world, made five birdies and two bogeys in his 69. Willett has just one top-five finish since finishing second in the Italian Open in September 2016.

    Having committed to play on the PGA Tour by taking up membership this season, Willet said it was important to make a quick start to the season.

    ''I've done two tours for a couple of years, and it's very difficult,'' Willett said. ''We committed to play on the PGA Tour, to play predominantly over here this year and next. It's nice to kind of get in and get some points early if you can.''

    The second of three PGA Tour events in three weeks in Asia has a 78-player field and no cut. Only 19 players broke par on Thursday.

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    Koepka takes edge over Thomas in race for world No. 1

    By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 5:50 am

    Brooks Koepka got the inside track against Justin Thomas in their head-to-head battle this week for world No. 1.

    Koepka shot 1-under 71 on Thursday at the CJ Cup, while Thomas shot 1-over 73.

    Chez Reavie leads after 18 holes at Nine Bridges in Juju Island, South Korea, following a 4-under 68.

    Koepka, currently world No. 3, needs to win this week or finish solo second [without Thomas winning] in order to reach the top spot in the rankings for the first time in his career. Thomas, currently No. 4, must win to reclaim the position he surrendered in June.

    One week after 26 under par proved victorious in Malaysia, birdies weren’t as aplenty to begin the second leg of the PGA Tour’s Asian swing.


    Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

    CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


    In chilly, windy conditions, Koepka and Thomas set out alongside one another – with Sungjae Im (73) as the third – on the 10th hole. Koepka bogeyed his first hole of the day on his way to turning in even-par 36. Thomas was one worse, with two bogeys and a birdie.

    On their second nine, Koepka was steady with two birdies and a bogey to reach red figures for the day.

    "I felt like I played good. I hit some good shots, missed a couple putts early and kind put myself in a little bit of trouble on the back nine, my front, but rallied pretty nicely," Koepka said. "I felt like I found a bit of rhythm. But it's a difficult day, anything under par, level par is a good score out there today. I'm pleased with it."

    Thomas, however, had two birdies and a double bogey on his inward half. The double came at the par-4 fourth, where he four-putted. He nearly made up those two strokes on his final hole, the par-5 ninth, when a wild approach shot [as you can see below] traversed the contours of the green and settled 6 feet from the hole. But Thomas missed the short eagle putt and settled for birdie.

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    Watch: Thomas' approach takes wild ride on CJ Cup green

    By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 5:17 am

    Two over par with one hole to play in Round 1 of the CJ Cup, Justin Thomas eyed an eagle at the par-5 ninth [his 18th].

    And he nearly got it, thanks to his ball beautifully navigating the curves of the green.

    Thomas hit a big draw for his second shot and his ball raced up the green's surface, towards the back, where it caught the top of ridge and funneled down to within 6 feet of the hole.



    Unfortunately for Thomas, the defending champion, he missed the eagle putt and settled for birdie and a 1-over 73.