Appleby Progressing Towards Major Win

By Mercer BaggsJuly 13, 2004, 4:00 pm
Stuart Appleby paused for just a second. He thought about the question. And then he answered honestly.
Yeah, I think theres some merit to that, he said. I think thats a fair and reasonable call.
Appleby had just been asked if he felt that he needed to win a major championship to validate his career.
It was, in a way, like asking him if he considers himself to be among todays best players not to have won a major. But the question was phrased differently. It almost had the tone of: Do you feel you should have won a major championship by now?
Appleby answered that implied question as well.
'I dont have a problem waiting one or two or three more years winning a major,' he said. 'What Ill be wanting to do in the meantime is winning tournaments, to give you that confidence to win majors.
Applebys name often fails to get a mention when the debate arises as to who is todays best player without a major victory.
Maybe its a good thing. Maybe that lessens the pressure a little, leaving him to apply as much as he wants on himself.
His numbers arent startling; hes won five times in nine years on the PGA Tour. But, at 33, hes aging well. He broke a four-year winless drought at last years Las Vegas Invitational, and then kick-started this season with an impressive victory in the Mercedes Championships.
He should have won at Bay Hill as well, but wasted a four-stroke lead in the final round and finished second to Chad Campbell.
Still, he has four top-5s on the year and currently resides in the top 10 on the money list. Hes never finished a season in the top 10 in earnings. Yet he hasnt finished outside the top 55 since his rookie season in 1996.
Appleby is a consistent performer, having banked nearly $13 million on the PGA Tour alone.
Its good to be Stuart Appleby.
Hes got the beautiful wife; the rugged, good looks; the charming accent; the yellow Lamborghini; the home in Tigers neighborhood.
Hes got it all ' except a major championship.
And that might be in his very near future.
But hes not all-consumed with winning a major. Hes not the type of player who would trade 20 regular tournament victories for one major. He wouldnt even trade Stuart Appleby for Orville Moody.
Theres no point in being a one-tournament, one-major wonder, and not ever doing anything again, he said.
Nick Price said something interesting. He said look at the ratio as 6 to 1 ' six regular tournaments (wins) to one major. I think thats about right.'
Of course, that would be the perfect winning ratio for Price; he won 18 PGA Tour events and three majors ' you do the math.
That ratio could be perfect for Appleby, too. A win this week would be his sixth on tour ' six wins, one major.
Should Appleby win a major, he wont have to worry about falling into the One-Hit Wonder category. Hes already an accomplished player, which makes his record in the majors a little surprising, suspect even.

Appleby has never played particularly well in the majors. That could be why hes not always lumped in with the likes of Sergio Garcia or Padraig Harrington or the countless other borderline great players who are still seeking their maiden major title.
Appleby has competed in 30 major championships; he has 14 missed cuts compared to three top-10s. His best finish came in the 2002 British Open, where he, Steve Elkington and Thomas Levet lost a four-way playoff to Ernie Els.
Appleby tied for the lowest final-round score that Sunday at Muirfield, a 6-under 65, to sneak into the playoff. A birdie on the final hole of the four-hole cumulative session would have won him the Claret Jug, but he made bogey instead and missed out on sudden death by a stroke.
He didnt linger too long on that defeat, disappointing as it was. Instead he tried to wring out all of the positives and use them as building blocks towards a future major title.
Appleby believes in progression. Each week he plays he is trying to progress as a player. And every win and every defeat are more building blocks, until eventually he will be standing on firm ground, face-to-face with a major trophy.
In Applebys mind, there arent four major weeks on tour; there are 28 or 29, or however many he decides to play.
Each week is a big week because it is another chance to win. And each win is another one of those building blocks that will help him become a major champion.
You win tournaments, whether its at a $2,000 level or a million-dollar level. Winning is a feeling. Thats the beauty of winning over and over ' you just keep taking that, and it turns into a major (victory), he said.
Appleby believes the British Open may be his best chance. The conditions are similar to where I grew up: windy, dry, linksy-style golf, he said.
Its also the one he most wants to win.
Its probably the major Im most excited about. It just really holds a very strong feeling in all Australians mind and heart, he said. Its the tournament that I remember getting up as a kid the most ' 2, 3 in the morning, to watch it.
Its an emotional week.
Appleby, like many other foreigners in the field, made his way over to Europe a little early to prepare. He acclimatized himself in Ireland over the weekend just to get the feeling of the British Open.
He said he doesnt remember too much about his last tournament experience at Troon, when he tied for 20th in 1997. He does, however, recall hitting a whole lot of 1-irons on the back nine, which plays into the wind.
He tied for fifth in his most recent start, at the Cialis Western Open two weeks ago, so his game is about where he wants it to be ' not too high and definitely not too low.
It's ready to peak, and peak at just the right time.
Ive certainly got the game to play major courses and win the tournaments, he said. Im capable of winning a major; I dont have any doubt about that. Ive got to learn how to grab that confidence, take that, and go play golf.
If it doesnt happen this week, hell just move on to the next. And hell try and win that tournament and the next tournament and the tournament thereafter. Until one of those wins is at a major championship.
Email your thoughts to Mercer Baggs
Related Links:
  • TV Airtimes

  • British Open Photo Gallery

  • Full Coverage - 133rd Open Championship
  • Getty Images

    Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

    By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

    Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

    Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

    Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

    Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

    12/1: Dustin Johnson

    16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

    20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

    25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

    30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

    40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

    50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

    60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

    80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

    100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

    Getty Images

    Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

    By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

    If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

    Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

    Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.

    Updated Official World Golf Ranking

    There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

    There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

    Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

    John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

    Getty Images

    Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

    By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

    Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

    Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

    Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

    “I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

    But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

    “I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”

    Getty Images

    Harrington: Fiery Carnoustie evokes Hoylake in '06

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 16, 2018, 3:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – One course came to mind when Padraig Harrington arrived on property and saw a firm, fast and yellow Carnoustie.

    Hoylake in 2006.

    That's when Tiger Woods avoided every bunker, bludgeoned the links with mid-irons and captured the last of his three Open titles.

    So Harrington was asked: Given the similarity in firmness between Carnoustie and Hoylake, can Tiger stir the ghosts this week?

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “I really don’t know,” Harrington said Monday. “He’s good enough to win this championship, no doubt about it. I don’t think he could play golf like the way he did in 2006. Nobody else could have tried to play the golf course the way he did, and nobody else could have played the way he did. I suspect he couldn’t play that way now, either. But I don’t know if that’s the strategy this week, to lay up that far back.”

    With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?

    “The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”