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.
 
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    By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

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

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