Appleby begins new chapter with low round at AT&T

By Rex HoggardFebruary 7, 2014, 2:33 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – The 42-year-old father of three did what his instincts dictated – wait patiently.

Stuart Appleby had just birdied his second hole of the day – the 11th at Monterey Peninsula Country Club – when the weather horn sent players, caddies and fans scrambling for cover.

After weeks of drought, and a solid few years of fair weather for the PGA Tour’s northern California stop, Crosby weather returned for the opening round of this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

For nearly three hours Appleby waited out the tempest without a hint of anxiety or anxiousness.

AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Articles, videos and photos

That’s what more than two decades of Tour experience and a burgeoning family does to a man.

“It was fine, really. It was just a solid day all the way around,” Appleby said of his opening 65 that left him two strokes out of the lead held by rookie Andrew Loupe.

In its simplest terms, Appleby’s calm in the middle of Thursday’s storm comes honestly.

Once a perennial contender, the Australian is three years removed from his last Tour victory and hasn’t advanced to the Tour Championship, the ultimate litmus test for top players, since 2008.

Nagging injuries led to swing flaws that can at least partially explain Appleby’s malaise, but when he was asked to assess the last few years the easiest answer is life.

For all the right reasons, Appleby has been distracted by his growing family in recent years with three children under 8 years old.

“They definitely play a role. Your emotional energy changes a little bit towards your family. Your attention, your focus, your time. Sometimes that’s a struggle,” he said. “You have more family commitments, which I really purely love, as you get older. You focus all your time on your family.”

As his children have aged, however, Appleby’s focus and time have returned to golf. He refined his swing during this offseason and adjusted his putting stroke to more of a “downward hit,” which might explain his ability to navigate the normally bumpy coastal greens.

He rolled in a 20 footer for birdie on the 11th before the delay and followed that with a 15 footer at the 14th hole when play resumed. His bogey-free round was his lowest start on Tour since a 65 at the 2012 Canadian Open.

In fact, his 6 under card was his best ever at the Clambake, an event he once jettisoned from his schedule because of the habitually bad weather and five-hour-plus rounds.

But he returned to the Monterey Peninsula in 2010 and hasn’t missed the Pro-Am since, a nod to his growing maturity and an appreciation for the golf – if not the views.

“If it’s not raining everyday here it’s a good tournament,” Appleby said. “I normally avoided the amateur format a bit like the plague. But I’ve grown up a bit, matured a bit.”

If Appleby needs a blueprint to follow as he reinvents himself he should look no further than Steve Stricker, who didn’t find his way on Tour until he was well into his 40s and earned a spot on last year’s Presidents Cup team playing a limited schedule.

“Look at Steve, he’s won massively in his 40s. Really his whole career has been in his 40s,” he said. “He wants to spend more time with his family now. (But) I love playing out here, I want to compete, I want to play.”

After nine Tour victories and more than $22.5 million in career earnings, it would be easy for Appleby to go quietly through the next few years on his way to the Champions Tour.

But that doesn’t appear to be on the agenda.

After being understandably distracted by quality of life concerns the last few years, Appleby has been reinvigorated by the call of competition.

Following a long, wet day, Appleby was asked what motivates the middle aged, and for a moment he appeared to channel his 20-year-old self.

“The chase, the hunt, the elusive almost at your fingertips next level of golf that’s just at arm’s reach,” Appleby said. “It feels like it is always there, that next rung on the ladder to pull yourself up. Golf gives you so many opportunities like no other sport.”

For Appleby, it turns out the ultimate career mulligan is a mind unclouded by life’s concerns and the clarity of thought to win again.

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Phil rubs fan's Donald Duck hat seven times, signs it

By Nick MentaJune 18, 2018, 3:09 pm

There is a case to be made that what Phil Mickelson did on Saturday made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.

There is also a case to be made that the USGA's setup of Shinnecock Hills made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.

Whatever you think about what Mickelson did on Saturday - and how he attempted to justify it after the fact without even a hint of remorse - watch this video.

The next time you hear someone say, "If anybody else had putted a moving ball on purpose and not apologized for it, it would get a different reaction," you can point to this video and say, "Yeah, here's why."

Here's what happened once a still-strident Mickelson was done rubbing Donald Duck hats on Sunday, per Ryan Lavner:

If you’re wondering whether Mickelson would be defiant or contrite on Sunday, we don’t know the answer. He declined to stop and speak with the media, deciding instead to sign autographs for more than a half hour and then offering a few short answers before ducking into player hospitality.

“The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’” he said. “I don’t know.”

The 2024 Ryder Cup at Bethpage is going to be a three-ring circus, and Mickelson, a likely choice to captain the U.S. team, will be the ringmaster.

Separately, shoutout to 2017 Latin Am champ Toto Gana, who does a terrific Donald Duck (skip to end).

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Ryder Cup race: Mickelson out, Simpson in

By Will GrayJune 18, 2018, 2:34 pm

There's a new man at the top of the U.S. Ryder Cup race following the U.S. Open, and there's also a familiar name now on the outside looking in.

Brooks Koepka's successful title defense vaulted him to the top of the American points race, up four spots and ensuring he'll be on the team Jim Furyk takes to Paris in September. Dustin Johnson's third-place finish moved him past Patrick Reed at No. 2, while Webb Simpson entered the top eight after a a tie for 10th.

While Bryson DeChambeau remained at No. 9, Phil Mickelson dropped two spots to No. 10. Tony Finau, who finished alone in fifth, went from 16th to 13th, while Tiger Woods fell two spots to No. 37.

Here's a look at the latest U.S. standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically:

1. Brooks Koepka

2. Dustin Johnson

3. Patrick Reed

4. Justin Thomas

5. Jordan Spieth

6. Rickie Fowler

7. Bubba Watson

8. Webb Simpson


9. Bryson DeChambeau

10. Phil Mickelson

11. Matt Kuchar

12. Brian Harman

On the European side, England's Tommy Fleetwood took a big stride toward securing his first Ryder Cup appearance with a runner-up finish that included a Sunday 63 while countryman Matthew Fitzpatrick snuck into a qualifying spot after tying for 12th.

Here's a look at the updated Euro standings, with the top four from both points lists joining four picks from captain Thomas Bjorn at Le Golf National:

European Points

1. Tyrrell Hatton

2. Justin Rose

3. Tommy Fleetwood

4. Francesco Molinari


5. Thorbjorn Olesen

6. Ross Fisher

World Points

1. Jon Rahm

2. Rory McIlroy

3. Alex Noren

4. Matthew Fitzpatrick


5. Ian Poulter

6. Rafael Cabrera-Bello

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Koepka autographs local kids' 'Go Brooks' sign after win

By Grill Room TeamJune 18, 2018, 2:30 pm

Brooks Koepka is a two-time U.S. Open winner, but that doesn't mean he's now too big to go sign a couple pieces of cardboard in somebody's front yard in the middle of the night.

Koepka's girlfriend, Jena Sims, posted two pictures to her Instagram story on Sunday of "Go Brooks" signs she says were put up by some local kids in the area where Koepka was staying for the week.

The first is dated prior to Koepka's final-round tee time.

The second is from Sunday night.

And here, separately, for no reason in particular (other than the fact that she posted it) is a video of Sims running over a parking cone at last year's U.S. Open at Erin Hills.

Speaking of kids, just feels those two are gonna make it.

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Koepka moves to No. 4 in world with U.S. Open win

By Will GrayJune 18, 2018, 2:05 pm

After successfully defending his U.S. Open title, Brooks Koepka reached a new career high in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Koepka held off Tommy Fleetwood to win by a shot Sunday at Shinnecock Hills, becoming the first player to go back-to-back in nearly 30 years. As a result, he jumped five spots in the latest rankings to No. 4, six spots higher than he reached with last year's U.S. Open victory at Erin Hills.

Fleetwood finished alone in second place and moved up two spots to No. 10, tying his career-best placement. Patrick Reed moved up two spots to No. 11 by finishing fourth, while fifth-place Tony Finau went from No. 37 to No. 31.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

It was a largely quiet week in the rankings despite the fact that a major championship was contested. Outside of Koepka and Finau, the only other player inside the top 50 to move up or down more than three spots was Jason Dufner, who went from 53rd to 48th with a T-25 finish.

Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1 for the second consecutive week, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Koepka and Jordan Spieth. Jon Rahm dropped one spot to No. 6, with Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day and Fleetwood rounding out the top 10. Hideki Matsuyama fell two spots to No. 12, dropping out of the top 10 for the first time since October 2016.

Despite a missed cut at Shinnecock, Tiger Woods actually moved up one spot to No. 79 in the latest rankings. He plans to play the Quicken Loans National and The Open in the coming weeks, which will be his final two chances to move into the top 50 in time to qualify for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. The event is being held for the final time this summer at Firestone Country Club, where Woods has won eight times.