Trevor Immelman's exemption for winning the 2008 Masters ends this season. (Fiume/Getty Images)
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Stuart Appleby already has booked his accommodations for next week’s The Barclays, the first event of the FedExCup Playoffs. His spot in the field isn’t guaranteed, but he wants to believe that he'll secure it with good play at this week's Wyndham Championship.
Appleby arrived at the Wyndham ranked 123rd in FedExCup points; the top 125 at week’s end qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs. His Playoffs push got off to a good start in Thursday's first round. He shot a 4-under 66 at Sedgefield Country Club that left him just two shots off the lead and poised to make a big move up the standings.
Appleby isn’t just playing for a Playoffs berth, though. The nine-time TOUR winner is trying to keep his TOUR card. Appleby, who has just one top-10 in 22 starts this year, must finish in the top 125 to retain full playing privileges for the 2013-14 season.
“I want to get my way to next week,” Appleby said. “We all put ourselves in this situation. We’ve had a lot of weeks to get it right, and it comes down to the final putt of the year.”
He’s not the only successful TOUR player who got off to a good start Thursday as he seeks to keep his card. Trevor Immelman’s five-year exemption for winning the 2008 Masters expires this season. He started the week at No. 148 in the FedExCup standings, but shot 65 Thursday. Immelman also has just one top-10 season.
“I have nothing to lose, to be honest,” Immelman said. “At the end of the day, even if things don’t work out, I’m not going to quit, I’m going to keep going and keep fighting and keep working hard. (I’m) still only 33.”
ON THE BUBBLE: The projected FedExCup standings after the Wyndham Championship's first round.
|Projected rank||Name||Projected points||Rank at start of week|
NOTES: Ross Fisher, a member of Europe’s victorious 2010 Ryder Cup team, shot 64 to tie Chris Stroud for the lead; Fisher is projected to move from 162nd to 56th in the FedExCup. … Andrew Svoboda, No. 209 in the FedExCup, shot 5-under 65 and is one shot off the lead; he likely needs to finish solo second to have a chance to qualify for the Playoffs and keep his card. … Scott Langley, No. 121 in the FedExCup, shot 3-under 67. … Bud Cauley, No. 130 in the FedExCup, shot 2-over 72 and is projected to finish 135th in the FedExCup. He is currently three shots outside the cut line.
By PGATOUR.COM staff
The FedExCup Playoffs get under way in just three weeks, meaning the pressure to secure a spot in the top 125 is reaching its peak.
Two competitors in the Reno-Tahoe Open field -- Charlie Wi and Stuart Appleby -- are in position after 36 holes to turn themselves from Playoff hopefuls into Playoff locks.
Wi (FedExCup: 121st) and Appleby (124th) each have 19 points in the Modified Stableford format to sit in a third-place tie as second-round play winds down at Montreux.
Wi had five birdies and an eagle Friday to add 15 points to his total while Appleby carded four birdies against one bogey for seven points.
Appleby was asked if he thought he was safe inside the FedExCup top 125 after his round.
“I don't want to think like that,” he said. “And I don't believe that to be the case. That would be a terrible mistake to make … I really want to make inroads this week.”
After nine holes of his opening round, Wi was minus-3 -- which is not where he wanted to be in this scoring system. He rebounded to finish his day at plus-4 and added another 15 points Friday to move into contention.
“(This format is) a lot of fun,” Wi said. “Yesterday I got off to a rough start. It was minus 3 after nine holes. And I just told myself, couple birdies I'm on the plus side. I just tried to chip it away one at a time. Here I am now.”
Not everyone on the FedExCup bubble has fared as well as Appleby and Wi this week. No. 123 Padraig Harrington and No. 127 Chad Campbell finished 36 holes with just two points and will both miss the cut. No. 128 Greg Owen has two points through 14 holes today and is also on the verge of missing out on the weekend -- and any FedExCup points.
Padraig Harrington enters the Reno-Tahoe Open at No. 123 in the FedExCup. (Halleran/Getty Images)
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
Here’s a look at some featured groupsfor the first two rounds of this week's Reno-Tahoe Open at Montreux Golf & Country Club:
J.J. Henry-Stuart Appleby-Padraig Harrington: The defending champion, J.J. Henry, is playing with nine-time PGA TOUR winner Stuart Appleby and three-time major winner Padraig Harrington. Harrington, the 2008 PGA Championship winner, also is in next week’s PGA, while Henry is the third alternate. A victory at the Reno-Tahoe Open also will earn a player an exemption to Oak Hill. Henry, at No. 91 in the FedExCup standings, appears to have clinched his spot in the FedExCup Playoffs. Appleby and Harrington could use a good week, though. Harrington is 123rd in the standings, while Appleby is 124th. The top 125 after the Wyndham Championship qualify for the Playoffs.
Woody Austin-Ben Crane-Davis Love III: This threesome features three former TOUR winners who could use a good week to ensure a spot in the FedExCup Playoffs. Austin won this year’s Sanderson Farms Championship, his first TOUR win since 2007, but ranks 134th in the FedExCup. The 300 points he earned for his Sanderson Farms win are the only points he’s earned this season. Crane, a four-time PGA TOUR winner, is 122nd in the standings. He’s posted just two top-10s in 18 starts this season, including a T-8 at THE PLAYERS Championship. Love, who missed several months because of neck surgery in February, is 162nd in the FedExCup after finishing in the top-10 once in 12 starts. Love and Austin are both in the field for next week’s PGA Championship.
Scott's Masters win was still being talked about Tuesday at Harbour Town. (How/Getty Images)
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- Australian Stuart Appleby still remembers the first time he met Adam Scott.
Scott, 15 years old at the time, was playing in a junior event run by Greg Norman. Another Australian, Aaron Baddeley, was 3 under and finished second to Scott -- 15 strokes behind him.
“I had no idea who (Scott) was,” recalled Appleby as he stood on the range at Harbour Town Golf Links for this week’s RBC Heritage. “I’m like, ‘What the (expeletive) is going on? So what’s this kid’s name?’ Ten years later he was a world-class player.”
And the first Masters champion from Down Under.
Eight times Australians had finished second at Augusta National, three times by Norman. Now the sporting nation with a population of just 22 million, had its first Green Jacket.
“In 1996, I think all of Australia went into mourning when (Norman) didn’t win,” Baddeley said. “because everyone thought he was going to win.”
Appleby called it the biggest injection of golf excitement in Australia since the 1990s, when Norman was No. 1 in the world for six straight years.
“It’s been very quiet since; sounds of crickets compared to Greg brought to the game for a while,” Appleby said. “All of us could say we had our initial roots of love for the game through Greg.”
Now Appleby hopes Scott will have the same impact.
So far, he’s off to a good start.
Just how big was Scott's win to Australia? The Prime Minister’s national address was interrupted on Monday with the news that Scott had won the Masters.
“With what Adam did, I reckon we could get that,” Appleby continued. “He’s got a Hall-of-Fame career in front of him, he’s a world-class player, he’s a gentleman, a great guy and he’s handsome damn it.
“I would love to see if we could measure golf’s participation; if there’s a bit of kick, a bit of interest, a bit of ‘Mum, I want to go to the range.’”
Appleby added that Australia has “struggled to make golf work” economically in recent years and noted that prize money in Australian events has dropped, too.
“This is just what we needed,” he said. “I’d hate to put undue pressure on Adam, but I hope he can represent golf in Australia for many years to come.”
Whatever happens, Appleby is just happy for his fellow Aussie.
“I’m hugely proud it was his first and Australia’s first,” Appleby said. “I woke up the next morning and it was first thing I was thinking about. Good on him, that’s all we can say.”
Phil Mickelson nearly became the sixth player in PGA TOUR history to record a 59 in competition Thursday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open before his putt horseshoed around the hole and out on his final hole of the day, the par-4 ninth. Mickelson's 60 matches his career low, which he shot in this tournament in 2005.
Here's a look who has shot 59, complete with details:
||TPC Old White
|2010 Greenbrier Classic
||One eagle, nine birdies. Made 11-foot birdie putt on the 18th to win by one.|
||TPC Deere Run
|2010 John Deere Classic
||Twelve birdies. Made 7-foot putt birdie putt on the 18th hole.
||PGA West Palmer Course (Par 72)
||1999 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic||Final
||One eagle, 11 birdies. Made 6-foot eagle on 18th hole. Won by a stroke.|
|1991 Las Vegas Invitational
||13 birdies. Began on back nine, birdied last three, included 3-footer on last.|
|1977 Memphis Classic
||One eagle, 11 birdies. Began on back nine, made 8-foot birdie putt on ninth.|
Try this question on your golf partners: Who was the first player on the PGA TOUR to win with a Titleist Pro V1 ball?
We’ll answer that in a bit, while offering one hint – the win was in Las Vegas in 2000. At that year’s event, now the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, Titleist changed the game with a high-performance solid construction ball. Since then, many companies have followed with their own editions, but nothing has matched the popularity of the Pro V1 among pros or amateurs.
Every few years Titleist comes out with new versions of the ball, and last week in Las Vegas – symmetry, anyone? – was time for the 2013 model.
“It’s like Christmas, what are we gonna get?” said Charley Hoffman of the unmarked white boxes that were waiting for Titleist ball loyalists at TPC Summerlin.
A total of 18 players put the new balls in play at Shriners Hospitals, with 14 playing the Pro V1x and four playing the Pro V1. Bill Lunde was the highest finisher with the new ball, taking fifth with a Pro V1x. Ryan Moore won the tournament with the present-day Pro V1 that’s available in stores.
“It’s the best-feeling ball I’ve played, ever,” said Hoffman, who missed the cut with a new Pro V1.
When the Pro V1 first hit the PGA TOUR in 2000 at Las Vegas, 47 players used it immediately (the Pro V1x arrived a couple years later). Billy Andrade won the tournament with the ball, becoming the answer to a golf equipment trivia question.
NEW FLATSTICKS: Fredrik Jacobson, surprisingly 132nd this year in strokes gained-putting (he was sixth last year), switched from an Odyssey Black Series I No. 1 to an Odyssey ProType ix No. 4 HT (high toe) at Las Vegas.
The ProType ix, with a black PVD finish and a slightly firmer White Hot insert, is only available for purchase in Japan but has proved popular over here. J.B. Holmes, Matthew Goggin and Gavin Coles all put the putter in play at Shriners Hospitals.
FRESH APPLES: Stuart Appleby got new wedges with tungsten slugs from the Callaway trailer in Las Vegas. He uses 52- and 58-degree X-Forged wedges, with personalization unique to him. Check out the photo.
WINNER’S BAG: Ryan Moore at the Shriners
Hospitals for Children Open:
Driver: TaylorMade RocketBallz (Fujikura Motore, 8.5 degrees)
Fairway woods: TaylorMade RocketBallz (15, 19 degrees)
Hybrid: Adams Idea Pro a12 (20 degrees)
Irons: Ping S56 (4-PW)
Wedges: Cobra Trusty Rusty (55 degrees), Titleist Vokey Design (60 degrees)
Putter: Yes! Sandy 12
Ball: Titleist Pro V1
This week’s Wyndham Championship marks the final opportunity for players to move inside the top 125 in FedExCup points and reserve their spot in the FedExCup Playoffs, which begin next week at The Barclays.
Starting with the No. 126 player in points (Brendan Steele) going into this week, 44 of the next 55 players in points are playing at Sedgefield. Notables such as Retief Goosen (127th) and Stewart Cink (135th) are not in the field, meaning they will not make the Playoffs this year.
Here’s a look at some of the notables currently outside the top 125 who are playing this week. Which one do you think has the best chance of having a good week and moving inside the top 125?
Click here for latest FedExCup standings
||Y.E. Yang||129th||Made the Playoffs the previous three years, finishing 30th last year. But he hasn’t had a top-10 finish in 19 starts this year.|
||Gary Woodland||130th||A year ago, he was ninth in FedExCup points, which essentially clinched his spot for the TOUR Championship. But like Yang, he doesn’t have a top-10 finish (18 starts) this year, has battled injuries and has just two sub-par rounds in his last 21 rounds.|
||John Daly||137th||Has never made the Playoffs, but he’s making a late charge this year. He’s move up 26 spots in the last two weeks thanks to a T5 (at Reno-Tahoe) and a T18 (at PGA Championship).|
||Stuart Appleby||142nd||Has made the Playoffs in four of the first five years but has just one top-10 finish on TOUR since shooting that 59 in the final round to win The Greenbrier Classic in 2010.|
||Camilo Villegas||146th||Villegas has always come up big in the Playoffs – he’s had at least one top-10 finish in every year, and has 10 top-10s (in 18 starts) overall, including two wins in 2008. But his best finish this year has been a T18 in New Orleans.|
||Justin Leonard||157th||Last year was the first time Leonard had missed the Playoffs and he’s in danger again. But he comes off a T5 at Reno-Tahoe, his best finish of the year.|
Five players -- Troy Matteson, Bo Van Pelt, Jhonattan Vegas, Stuart Appleby and Charl Schwartzel -- currently share the clubhouse lead at 5-under 65 in the opening round of the RBC Canadian Open, where they’re playing lift, clean and place after an overnight storm swept through the area and soaked the golf course.
Here’s what some of the leaders had to say about the opening round:
Vegas on the course conditions: “It is really soft. You can really throw anything at the pins and it's going to stop there.”
Vegas on how much of a difference there is between playing lift, clean and place and playing the ball down: “You take the doubt out of your mind. When you have your eye on the ball, you don't know which way the ball is going to go. So cleaning it takes it completely out of your mind. You can put a good spin on it, and usually you can get a result. It's huge.”
Appleby, who shot a 59 in the final round to win at The Greenbrier two years ago, on the similarities between that course and this one: “The greens, probably similar speed. The topography of this course is a lot hillier, a lot more demanding I think on the tee shots. The golf course now at Greenbrier is a lot more demanding than it was when I shot it.”
Schwartzel on being healthy again after missing a month between the U.S. and British Open due to a rib injury: “Before I had the injury, that second Masters before the British Open I thought that was the best I've hit the ball in my career. I hit it so good. Then the injury came and I was pretty upset about it because I thought I was really close to breaking through and winning again. I had to sit around for three weeks, three-and-a-half weeks without being able to hit a ball. I had sort of a rushed recuperation for the British Open, wasn't quite 100 percent. But at the British Open I didn't hit it as good as I did when I took off, but I kept practicing, and on Monday when I came here, things started falling into place.”
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
Titleist is debuting some new firepower this week at the AT&T National, namely its 913 series of drivers.
The company hasn’t introduced a new driver in two years, but the 913 is the next step in the “900” family (with “9” being its designation for metalwoods and “13” for the model year), with a few subtle differences from the 910 series.
Titleist loyalists will notice the striping on the sole and new markings on the face, as well as a weight cartridge at the rear of the club. The cartridges can be swapped out to optimize launch conditions, and like the 910 models the new 913 has the SureFit Tour hosel to adjust lie and loft.
Like the 910, the 913 has a D2 and D3 model, with the D2 being slightly bigger.
Bobby Gates took the first swings with the club on Monday at the range at Congressional Country Club, with Titleist players Seung-Yul Noh, Jimmy Walker and Brendan Steele also getting licks in. Rory McIlroy has one in Ireland this week, where he’ll play in the European Tour’s Irish Open.
The clubs will go on sale to the public sometime in the fall, retailing for around $399.
MR. 59: After dalliances with several flatsticks, Stuart Appleby returned to the Odyssey White Hot XG 330 mallet that he shot 59 with at The Greenbrier Classic in 2010.
“I really had to assess what was going on in my game and where I had to improve,” he said. “I was chasing around, moving putters. Didn’t know when I was going to hit the hole. It just started sapping the energy.”
Sure enough, he finished T18 at the Travelers for his first top-20 finish of the season.
COLORFUL: More of Callaway’s udesign-inspired Razr Fit drivers are making the rounds on the PGA TOUR. At the Travelers, J.J. Killeen used a purple one in honor of his TCU roots, while Danny Lee used a blue driver that was actually built for Fredrik Jacobson, but the Swede declined to use it in play so Callaway reps gave it to Lee.
WINNER’S BAG: Marc Leishman at the Travelers
Driver: Titleist 910D3 (UST Mamiya AXIVCore, 7.5 degrees)
Fairway wood: Titleist 910F (13.5 degrees)
Hybrid: Mizuno Fli-Hi (18 degrees)
Irons: Titleist AP2 (3-4), MB (5-9)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design Spin Milled (PW, 54, 58 degrees)
Putter: Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport 2 Mid-slant T10
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
CROMWELL, Conn. -- It’s been a while since Stuart Appleby has been in contention -- so much so that Golf Channel’s Mike Ritz and Appleby had a funny little exchange about it.
“What have you found, because this has not been the most stellar year for Stuart Appleby,” Ritz said to Appleby following Appleby’s second-round 65 Friday.
“No, I almost forgot your name,” Appleby shot back. “I couldn't think who you were.”
Appleby has, however, had a forgettable year. The Aussie has just one finish in the top 25 and he’s missed more cuts -- eight -- than he’s made -- five.
Entering this week, Appleby missed two of his last three cuts and three of his last four.
“I really had to assess what was going on in my game and where I had to improve,” he said. “I was chasing around, moving putters. Didn't know when I was going to hit the hole. It just started sapping the energy.”
Appleby went back to the putter he shot 59 with in the final round of the 2010 Greenbrier Classic, which also happens to be the last time he won.
He’s also healthy after battling through a back injury early in the year and mentally in a better place, too.
It certainly showed with seven birdies on Friday for what was his best round of the year by three strokes.
“I'm thinking better. I'm getting better,” Appleby said. “I wasn't hitting it any good and I wasn't thinking any good and I was just really finding it very hard. My body and mind is a lot better, and if you get those two right, you play better golf.”