The leader by one shot after 36 holes at Torrey Pines South Course, the Australian began to fall apart on the 37th hole. By the time he finished his bogey-strewn round of 8-over 79, he was an also-ran at 5-over 218. That was eight shots behind Tiger Woods, who had a 1-under 70 on a painful left knee to take the lead at 3-under 210.
The final damage for Appleby: seven bogeys and one double bogey. His only birdie came way, way too late, on the 18th.
Teeing off with Rocco Mediate in the final group, Appleby set the tone for his awful afternoon by making bogey from the bunker on the first hole by missing a 5-foot putt.
This is the first Open played on a city-owned course, and at the worst possible time Appleby looked like a muni-course player.
He four-putted No. 5 for his double bogey. On No. 9, he turned a three-foot birdie chance into a three-putt bogey.
After rolling in a 10-foot birdie putt on 18, he raised his arms'yes, he can make one, and yes, it was finally over. He had 34 putts, tied for 68th in the 80-man field.
A day earlier on 18, Appleby sank a 45-foot birdie putt to take his first lead in a major since he was one shot ahead of Woods going into the final round of the 2007 Masters.
He and Woods played together that day at Augusta. Woods finished second to Zach Johnson while Appleby made a 6 on the first hole, trudged through a cold, windy day and wound up shooting 75 to finish seventh.
Imagine where Sergio Garcia would be if he hadnt made such a mess of his first seven holes at the U.S. Open.
The tournament had barely started Thursday and Garcia already was in danger of missing the cut. Two double bogeys put him 6 over before hed even made his first turn.
Sergio has been surging ever since, going 3 under on his last 47 holes, including consecutive rounds of 1-under 70 on Friday and Saturday at Torrey Pines South Course.
Garcia was tied with Mike Weir, Ernie Els and John Merrick at 3-over 216 going into Sundays final round. That was six shots behind Tiger Woods, who had a 70 on a sore left knee Saturday to take the lead at 3-under 210. A lot of ground to make up, for sure, especially considering Woods has never lost a major from the lead.
Recovering from his early mistakes has been nice. Garcia wishes theyd never happened.
That definitely wasnt the plan, I can tell you that, said the Spaniard, who just flat-out missed fairways and greens in his first seven holes. But, yeah, you know, when youre comfortable with your game, when you have confidence in your game, you know you can come back.
Garcias only bogeys Saturday were on Nos. 6 and 8, sandwiched around the first of three birdies.
I would love to be a couple better, just to make sure that I was a little closer, he said. But, you know, every time you shoot under par here you shouldnt be too greedy, I guess. So its not too bad, and thats what I did the last few days. Unfortunately I just had a bad start on Thursday. But Im slowly coming back.
Garcia had a nice birdie on the par-5 13th, the hole where Phil Mickelson imploded with a quadruple-bogey 9 and Woods wowed the crowd with an eagle.
Garcia hit a strong drive just down the right side of the fairway, a 5-iron that landed short of the pin and ran about 25 feet beyond, then two-putted for birdie.
Its getting there, Garcia said. Like I said, I played very nicely yesterday. I felt very, very good yesterday. Today I felt like I hit a lot of good shots, maybe not as many as yesterday, but its not easy. Its a U.S. Open. Thats why its a major. But Im pretty happy and looking forward to hopefully having a good finish tomorrow.
THERES ALWAYS NEXT YEAR
San Diego native Phil Mickelson looked like hed just seen a ghost when he walked off Torrey Pines South Course on Saturday, his 5-over 76 having dropped him to 9-over 222.
Yeah, his quadruple-bogey 9 on the 13th hole was supernatural, all right, something he hadnt done at city-owned Torrey Pines since he was kid.
He had waited six years to play for the national championship on a course he had grown up playing, and now the chance to win it was gone.
After cooling down for about 15 minutes, that sly Mickelson grin had partially returned.
I think its an exciting Open, Lefty said. Im certainly disappointed that Im not in the mix right now. That was the goal. So Im going to come out tomorrow, enjoy my final round. And Bethpage is one of the best places ever' one of the best memories in the game of golf Ive ever had. I get to go back there next year for the U.S. Open. So Im excited about the chance to try to break through and win my first U.S. Open there.
In 2002, Mickelson finished second to Tiger Woods at Bethpage Black, which is owned by the state of New York and became the first truly public course to host an Open. Torrey Pines is the second.
The USGA decided there was no need to beef up security around the Phil Mickelson-Adam Scott pairing Saturday, one day after Scotts caddie went into the gallery to confront a heckler at the U.S. Open.
That group has had extra security the whole time as it is, said Dan Hoban, the USGAs director of security. We have 50,000 people and we just had two drunks that got out of control. As far as were concerned, its over.
It might not be over for caddie Tony Navarro, who could face disciplinary action for leaving the field of play and striking a fan.
On the final hole of play for the threesome of Tiger Woods, Mickelson and Scott on Friday, two fans, a father and a son, were arrested by San Diego police for investigation of public intoxication. Thomas W. Campbell, 62, of Upland, Calif., and Thomas J. Campbell, 37, of Apple Valley, Calif., spent the night in detox, Hoban said.
After hearing a fan verbally abuse him and his golfer, Scotts caddie went under the ropes that separate the fans from the field of play on the ninth hole and head-butted the younger Campbell, according to witnesses. The two wrestled to the ground and Mickelsons caddie, Jim Mackay, went through the ropes to assist Navarro and summon police.
The Campbells were handcuffed and taken away, and the 7-year-old son of the younger Campbell was placed in the care of an aunt, Hoban said.
America, the 139-foot replica of the schooner that gave the Americas Cup its name, was sailing on the Pacific Ocean just off Torrey Pines on Saturday, flying a giant American flag from its mainmast. Operated by businessman Troy Sears, America is berthed at a downtown marina on San Diego Bay.
The U.S. Open is the first major played in San Diego. The city has previously been host to three Super Bowls, the Americas Cup three times, two World Series and one Final Four.