Victory Wave

By Brian HewittJanuary 12, 2004, 5:00 pm
MAUI, Hawaii -- All it would have taken was one rogue wave. The swells were up, the rocks were hidden beneath the surface. And Stuart Appleby was surfing with his good Aussie mate, Adam Scott, just down the road from the Plantation Course where the Mercedes Championships would begin two days later.
They were in fast company on this brilliant Tuesday. Kelly Slater, the six-time world surfing champion, was showing them the sometimes violent ebbs and flows of his sport. It was Appleby's first time on a board. And he didn't know enough to be scared. Didn't know enough to understand how really bad he was at surfing. That was left for Scott to quantify, using a golf analogy.
'We were double bogeying every wave,' Scott said. And if one of those waves had crashed the wrong way or broken at the wrong moment, Appleby might never have made it to the first tee of a tournament he would dominate, even though the final count said he only beat the inexorable Vijay Singh by one shot.
'Appleby ate a lot of sand,' was the way another source would put it. But he lived to play another day.
The victory would mark the fourth time in his last six PGA Tour events the 32-year-old Appleby would finish in the top two. It would mark the third time in three tries he had won on the PGA Tour after sleeping on the lead Saturday night. The $1.06 million he received for shooting 22 under par at the Plantation Course would move him into the top 30 on the all-time money list.
And it would identify Appleby, after just one 2004 event, as the leading candidate for breakthrough player of the year. His swing is strong. It is simple. And at the Mercedes, he putted like he invented grain. He had also worked, he said, on his 'brain.' He had convinced himself that if he was hitting the ball well on the range, there was no reason he shouldn't be able to take that form to the golf course.
'Stuie's got the mindset now,' Scott said. 'He wants to go right to the top.'
Appleby can take a number on that goal. Singh will threaten Woods' stranglehold on the top spot in the world rankings before Appleby does. So will Ernie Els and Davis Love III. But it won't keep Appleby from trying. He entered the tournament ranked No. 14 in the official world golf rankings. He is rising with a bullet.
In 1997 Appleby played in his first major, The Masters. He hasn't missed a major since. His best finish was a T2 at the 02 Open Championship, losing to Ernie Els in a playoff at Muirfield. But he had failed to advance to the weekend in 15 of the other 27 majors he entered. He lost his wife, Renay, in a tragic car accident in 1998. And he suffered very publicly.
Now he is remarried. Time has helped the healing process. There is an angel on his shoulder. And the waves of bad fortune that threaten all golfers are wiping out somebody else's ride right now.
Weeks and months from now, much of what happened in this golf tournament will be forgotten. But Adam Scott and Kelly Slater won't any time soon. Scott's task will be to win a tournament between now and next year's event here. Then three of them can surf Maui again. The two Aussies might even par a wave. Or at least catch one.
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Van Rooyen holes putt after ball-marker ruling

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Erik van Rooyen was surveying his 10-footer for par, trying to get a feel for the putt, when his putter slipped out of his hand and dropped onto his ball marker.

The question, then, was whether that accident caused his coin to move.

The rules official looked at various camera angles but none showed definitively whether his coin moved. The ruling was made to continue from where his coin was now positioned, with no penalty.

This was part of the recent rules changes, ensuring there is no penalty if the ball or ball maker is accidently moved by the player. The little-used rule drew attention in 2010, when Ian Poulter accidentally dropped his ball on his marker in Dubai and wound up losing more than $400,000 in bonus and prize money.

After the delay to sort out his ruling Friday, van Rooyen steadied himself and made the putt for par, capping a day in which he shot even-par 71 and kept himself in the mix at The Open. He was at 4-under 138, just two shots off the clubhouse lead.

“I wanted to get going and get this 10-footer to save par, but I think having maybe just a couple minutes to calm me down, and then I actually got a different read when I sat down and looked at it again,” he said. “Good putt. Happy to finish that way.”

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Lyle birdies last hole in likely his final Open start

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:32 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – If this was Sandy Lyle’s final Open appearance, he went out in style.

Playing on the final year of his automatic age exemption, the 60-year-old Scot buried a 30-foot birdie on the last hole. He missed the cut after shooting 9-over 151 over two rounds.

“I was very light-footed,” he said. “I was on cloud nine walking down the 18th. To make birdie was extra special.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Lyle, who also won the 1988 Masters, has missed the cut in his last eight majors, dating to 2014. He hasn’t been competitive in The Open since 1998, when he tied for 19th.

To continue playing in The Open, Lyle needed to finish in the top 10 here at Carnoustie. He’d earn a future exemption by winning the Senior British Open.

“More punishment,” he said.

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DJ, Thomas miss cut at Open; No. 1 up for grabs

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 3:35 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The top two players in the world both missed the cut at The Open, creating the possibility of a shakeup at the top of the rankings by the end of the weekend.

Dustin Johnson became the first world No. 1 since Luke Donald in 2011 to miss the cut at the year’s third major.

Johnson played solidly for all but the closing stretch. Over two rounds, he was 6 over par on the last three holes. He finished at 6-over 148.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Thomas added to what’s been a surprisingly poor Open record. Just like last year, when he struggled in the second round in the rain at Royal Birkdale, Thomas slumped to a 77 on Friday at Carnoustie, a round that included three consecutive double bogeys on Nos. 6-8. He finished at 4-over 146.

It’s Thomas' first missed cut since The Open last year. Indeed, in three Open appearances, he has two missed cuts and a tie for 53rd.  

With Johnson and Thomas out of the mix, the No. 1 spot in the rankings is up for grabs this weekend.

Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm all can reach No. 1 with a victory this week.

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TT Postscript: Woods (71) makes cut, has work to do

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 3:32 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Here are a few things I think I think after Tiger Woods shot a second consecutive even-par 71 Friday in the second round. And yes, he made the cut:

• Tiger said all 71s are not created equal. On Thursday, he made three birdies and three bogeys. On Friday, he made four birdie and four bogeys. Which round was better? The first. His theory is that, despite the rain, conditions were easier in the second round and there were more scoring opportunities. He didn't take advantage.

• This is the first time since the 2013 Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes that Tiger shot par or better in each of the first two rounds of a major. That’s quite a long time ago.

• Stat line for the day: 11 of 15 fairways, 13 of 18 greens, 32 total putts. Tiger hit one driver and two 3-woods on Thursday and four drivers on Friday, only one which found the fairway. An errant drive at the second led to him sniping his next shot into the gallery


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

• In his own words: “I could have cleaned up the round just a little bit. I got off to not exactly the best start, being 2 over through three, but got it back. The golf course was a little bit softer today, obviously. It rains, and we were able to get the ball down a little bit further, control the ball on the ground a little bit easier today, which was nice.”

• At some point Tiger is going to have to be more aggressive. He will be quite a few shots off the lead by day’s end and he'll have a lot of ground to make up. Hitting irons off the tee is great for position golf, but it’s often leaving him more than 200 yards into the green. Not exactly a range for easy birdies.

• Sure, it’s too soon to say Tiger can’t win a fourth claret jug, but with so many big names ahead of him on the leaderboard, it’s unlikely. Keep in mind that a top-six finish would guarantee him a spot in the WGC: Bridgestone Invitational in two weeks. At The Players, he stated that this was a big goal.

• My Twitter account got suspended momentarily when Tiger was standing over a birdie putt on the 17th green. That was the most panicked I’ve been since Tiger was in contention at the Valspar.